Admits He Has a Problem
After avoiding the truth, a character finally realizes he has a problem.


(permanent link) added: 2011-02-23 14:52:22 sponsor: DannyVElAcme (last reply: 2013-02-14 07:46:26)

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Up for Grabs, Needs a Better Title

Alternate title: I Need Help

There's something wrong with Bob. This is not speculation or hearsay, it is objective truth. However, it's not objective truth to him, he doesn't see a problem at all with what he is or what he's doing.

However, something happens that shatters Bob's illusion, and he takes a long, hard stare in the mirror and goes "Holy shit, maybe something IS wrong with me!"

This is a trope about someone with a character flaw, deviant behavior or vice who refuses to believe he has a problem, but certain circumstances force him to come to terms that he's been fooling himself all along, and now needs to look for someone to help him out of it. However, it should be noted that this is basically two tropes in one: a serious version and a comedic version.

In the serious version of this trope, it is a very important moment in a character's development, since it's the one moment he finally starts tackling his issues head on. It can also be cathartic to the audience: the fact he just recognized he needs to change is easily the moment in which a(so far) flawed and unapproachable character finally starts earning the audience's sympathy. It's also human nature to root for someone to overcome adversity, so this realization is never treated negatively or trivially. It is often the result of one of the character's friends or loved ones(or even a villain!) asking him an Armor-Piercing Question, or the character does something that he would have never done otherwise, making him say "My God, What Have I Done??"

Keep in mind this is not about a character being physically sick or with some kind of change happening in his body, this is about behavior or addiction that the character refuses to admit he has, but something finally snaps him out of denial.

Examples: serious:
  • In one issue of the comic based on Batman: The Animated Series, The Riddler, subconsciously, leaves riddles that lead Batman to catching him. Upon realizing that even though he REALLY tried to not leave any evidence behind he did anyway, he resignedly pleads to Batman to take him to Arkham, since apparently he really is insane.
  • In House, M.D., House finally realized that he had an addiction and needed rehab when he hallucinated that Cuddy came to his House, stopped him from taking the last Vicodin he'd hidden away in his house and they got together as a result that night. In reality, none of that happened and he took the Vicodin.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: A more dramatic version appears in the season six episode Wrecked when Willow, high on Black Magic, almost gets Dawn killed. After the Monster of the Week dies Willow falls apart, finally admitting that she has been using way too much magic for anyone's good. The next few episodes have Willow quitting magic as a major plot point and set the stage for her change to Dark Willow for maximum dramatic effect.
  • In Madagascar, Alex says this after realizing that he wants to eat his best friend. While the movie is comedic, the moment itself is most definitely not.
  • In all versions of the Black Suit Saga, Spider-Man does something that makes him realize he's addicted to the symbiote and it's taking too much control of him.
  • This happened to Harry Dresden when Michael asked, " Where is your blasting rod?" in Small Favor.
  • GLaDOS says this in Portal2 when she realizes she's developing a conscience of her own, rather than being forced to behave differently via a personality core.
  • In A Beautiful Mind, Nash finally admits he's shizophrenic when he realizes one of his hallucinations doesn't age.

Examples: funny:
  • In the first nostalgic TV commercial special, The Nostalgia Critic notes in horror that he just dedicated a whole show to lampooning TV commercials, which makes him remark that there must be something wrong with him.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    Willow: Personal question?
    Xander: Yeah, shoot.
    Willow: When Buffy was a vampire, you weren't still, like, attracted to her, were you?
    Xander: Willow, how can you--I mean, that's really bent! She was...grotesque!
    Xander: I'm sick. I need help.
    Willow: Don't I know it.
  • In one Big Bang Theory episode, Penny becomes addicted to the MMO Age of Conan. Sheldon starts trying to get her off of the game (because her pestering him for advice is annoying him, not because her obsession is ruining her life). After an episode of failed attempts to do so, it seems nothing can break Penny's addiction. At the end, Howard Wolowitz appears in-game and asks Penny on a virtual date, and Penny accepts. A moment later, Penny realizes what she just did, hides her laptop under a couch cushion and declares "I need help."
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