Created By: Earnest on May 15, 2011 Last Edited By: Earnest on June 13, 2011

Swordfish Out Of Water

It's not that Heart/Aquaman suck, they're just in the wrong show

Name Space:
Page Type:
Formerly Out of Context Character Element. Do We Have This?

The problem that makes Heart a lame power and requires an Eigen Plot that specifically showcases Aquaman isn't perception, but that the show centers on things that make a character's theme and abilities less useful by comparison.

For example: if a show focuses on hand to hand combat means characters should Never Bring A Knife To A Fistfight, so the one squadie that specializes in Dual Wielding Absurdly Sharp Blades is never ever going to land a hit. Or lets say the story is about pirates who each have a Cool Boat; if a character comes along who only travels by car, it won't matter how cool it is, the story will always have to bend over backwards to make them relevant.

The circumstances will vary but the basic situation will be the same: character's who are thematically at odds with the show's setting and premise will be hard to include in the action. It doesn't matter that Heart Is an Awesome Power if the show's premise never gives them a chance to showcase said power or trait. This can lead to viewers to consider them The Scrappy through no fault of their own.

See also Wrong Genre Savvy.

  • The various Transformers shows have run into this problem whenever a water based Autobot or Decepticon is introduced. Past their initial episode they'll rarely reappear unless This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman.
    • The Transformers examples has an interesting subversion. In Beast Wars, Depth Charges transforms into a ray. To avoid limiting his useability he also has the ability to become a spaceship.
  • Aquaman suffered from this in the Super Friends cartoon.
  • In Dragon Ball Z no one fights with a weapon, it's all hand to hand. When Trunks shows up he and his cool sword make a good impression... and it promptly proves less than useful against the Androids and Cell, after which point he only uses it sporadically.
Community Feedback Replies: 17
  • May 15, 2011
    The Transformers examples has an interesting subversion. In Beast Wars, Depth Charges transforms into a ray. To avoid limiting his useability he also has the ability to become a spaceship.
  • May 15, 2011
    Compare Wrong Genre Savvy, when it's more about intelligence than ability.
  • May 16, 2011
    This is quite close to Heart Is An Awesome Power.
  • May 26, 2011
    Swordfish Out Of Water?
  • May 26, 2011
    ^ I vote for that name
  • May 27, 2011
    I, uh... don't get the swordfish title.

    Furthermore, I'm not sure this is a trope. This is not an intentional act on the behalf of the creators (that'd be Heart Is An Awesome Power). This article is more of an observation as to why What Kind Of Lame Power Is Heart Anyway gets invoked.
  • May 27, 2011
    ^ I don't get the swordfish title either

    But I do think there is room for this on the wiki, even if it is just that observation. A Just For Fun page would be perfect for this.
  • May 27, 2011
    The Swordfish title refers to the phrase "Fish out of Water," which describes someone not in his or her own ideal environment for success, and the use of "Swordfish" implies weaponization, or other offensive capability.
  • May 28, 2011
    I get the "fish out of water" reference, the swordfish part on the other hand I didn't get when I saw it and even with the explanation it seems a bit forced or vague.
  • May 28, 2011
    Yeah, I expected it to refer to The Password Is Always Swordfish. Aquaman Out Of Water?
  • May 28, 2011
    Shark Out Of Water? To imply some degree of competance in water while maintaining the fish pun?
  • June 8, 2011
    also, look at Power Creep Power Seep
  • June 10, 2011
    So make this in the Just For Fun namespace?

    Taking a step back from the fish and sharks, maybe name this Awesome In Another Context? As in: Aquaman and Heart would be Awesome In Another Context.
  • June 12, 2011
    An Eigen Plot cannot specifically showcase Aquaman. Eigen Plot is about making all the characters equally useful even though one has a weak power, and This Looks Like A Job For Aquaman is about showcasing one character. They can't both happen at the same time (unless you consider a series of episodes showcasing individual weak characters to be a single overarching plot that showcases them all.)
  • June 12, 2011
    Hong Meiling is one of the greatest physical fighters in Gensokyo. Unfortunately, she happens to be in a magic and danmaku based series, and unfortunately, her danmaku skills are a little lacking.

    So would this be a subtrope of Overshadowed By Awesome?
  • June 12, 2011
  • June 13, 2011
    This kind of reminds me of the subplot in The Sarah Connor Chronicles about the school counselor who suspected Cameron knew he had an affair with the girl who committed suicide. The last time we hear from him is when he called Sarah to try to convince her there is something odd in her daughter behavior. In a high school drama somebody like him would have been very dangerous since he could theoretically ruin the life of the girl he was trying to discredit, but since Cameron was a killer cyborg and since nobody cared about what was going on in school anyway his plot just dropped