Created By: Euan2000October 10, 2012 Last Edited By: Euan2000January 8, 2013

Cape Decay

When the ultimate paragon is broken, morally or emotionally over time.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
The Classic Hero: Strong, intelligent, Determined and really boring to write.

To spice things up the hero is one way or the other broken.

Done well it can give some depth to the character and their mythos. Done poorly it can lead to a Wangst fueled Dork Age


  • Many Elseworld stories Superman becomes disillusioned with humanity due to either a close one's death or Luther getting off free one too many times. The results are rarely pretty ranging from Clark giving up his life as a hero to Superman becoming a Knight Templar.
  • Before the New52 Billy Batson aka Captain Marvel aka Shazam! was an even bigger boy scout than Superman. After the switch he became a selfish jerkass.
  • In the early days of the X Men Cyclops was a competent leader but as Wolverine took the spotlight writers tried to make him more interesting by making him more like Wolverine and giving angst to work with by killing his wife.
  • While Reed Richards was always a bit overly focused on science this has been exagurated to the point that he's a massive jerkass that can barely keep the team together and even become Dr Doom in Ultimate Marvel.
  • Tiger And Bunny: Mr. Legend, one of the original and most famous heroes, started losing his powers as he got older. Hero TV started staging his rescues, and he descended into alcoholism and domestic abuse.
  • In Justice League Unlimited, Superman (and the entire League for that matter) goes through a lot of decay during the Cadmus Arc, when confronted by the mistrust of the people they protect (or rather, their government). Captain Marvel even calls Superman out on it--which helps to slow down his decay somewhat.
Community Feedback Replies: 16
  • October 10, 2012
    nitrokitty
    • Tiger And Bunny: Mr. Legend, one of the original and most famous heroes, started losing his powers as he got older. Hero TV started staging his rescues, and he descended into alcoholism and domestic abuse.
  • October 11, 2012
    Telcontar
    This Needs A Better Name; I thought it was about Clothing Damage at first.
  • October 11, 2012
    Arivne
  • October 11, 2012
    Euan2000
    It's called Cape Decay because it's about The Cape becoming much less idealistic and old school. A better name could be used though.
  • October 15, 2012
    Chabal2
    Superman At Earths End has Superman kill people with guns.
  • October 15, 2012
    TonyG
  • October 15, 2012
    saintdane05
    Ooh, let's try The Dark Knight Strikes Again and/or All Star Batman And Robin! Where Batman becomes a psychopath!
  • October 31, 2012
    TheHandle
    He always was a psychopath, and always was remarkably reckless for someone attemting to be a Technical Pacifist. If anything, those two versions are more psychologically realistic. I especially loved seeing Luthor get murdered.
  • December 21, 2012
    MorningStar1337
    My recommendation for the name would be Messianic Breakdown
  • December 21, 2012
    thewriter
    ^Heroic Breakdown would be more spt, since not all heroes are messiah and vice versa

    edit: nevermind, apparently that's taken lol
  • December 22, 2012
    Euan2000
    • In Justice League Unlimited, Superman (and the entire League for that matter) goes through a lot of decay during the Cadmus Arc, when confronted by the mistrust of the people they protect (or rather, their government). Captain Marvel even calls Superman out on it--which helps to slow down his decay somewhat.
  • December 22, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
    • In this Captain America story, he becomes disillusioned upon finding a supervillain plot was headed by a figure heavily implied to be the US President. He gives up his role as Captain America, and decides to become a vigilante named Nomad. But it ends up not working out for him, and when he remembers his oath called him to protect from threats both foreign and domestic, he decides he won't let his idealism in his country blind him again and resumes his title.
  • December 22, 2012
    CarrieVS
    I think Cape Decay is an ok name, if it linked to The Cape somewhere in the description.
  • December 22, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Captain Marvel's civilian identity is Billy Batson not Batterson.
  • December 22, 2012
    StarSword
    @thewriter: Currently it's a redirect to Heroic BSOD, and re-purposing redirects is allowed by the wiki (reference the YKTTW discussion for No Such Agency, which used to redirect to NSA).

    But as it stands, what's the difference between HBSOD and this?
  • December 23, 2012
    Koveras
    ^ HBSOD is a sudden, traumatic event. "Decay" implies slow, often unnoticed at first transition from "goodie good" to "not so good".

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