Created By: BokhuraBurnes on June 14, 2012 Last Edited By: BokhuraBurnes on July 4, 2012
Troped

Go-Getter Girl

A young woman who is driven to achieve at all costs

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She gets straight A's in her classes, while also taking charge of multiple school clubs and volunteering at a homeless shelter in her spare time. She's unfailingly polite to her peers, older adults, and younger children alike. She might not be a fashion plate, but she never steps outside her home without looking perfectly presentable. Nobody doubts that big things are expected of her.

They are, right? Otherwise, it would be so frustrating for all that effort to go to waste!

The Go-Getter Girl is a young woman who devotes herself to achievement above everything else. The reasons for this might vary: she may have some personal goal she feels she needs to accomplish, she may be desperately seeking the approval of others, or she may simply enjoy competing against her peers and taking the number one rank. In any case, she's well aware of the effort that her path requires, but she's more than up to the challenge. She finds it easy, or at least manageable, to discipline herself to avoid distractions, and while others might complain about the expectations of superiors, she will do whatever she can to meet and exceed them.

Despite all appearences, things aren't always as easy for the Go-Getter Girl as they may seem. All the discipline that goes into creating her persona of perfection may crowd out the possibility for sponteneity, fun, and other pleasures of youth. It's not that she doesn't want these things deep down; it's just that she feels that she doesn't have the luxury of acting on them. For this reason, while she might always seem completely put-together in public, in the few moments she has to herself in private, she's liable to let herself go and act like a slob and a slacker...or at least fantasize about doing so. At extremes, the pressure of maintaining her image can get to her, causing her to snap and turn evil or insane.

That being said, Tropes Are Not Bad. Although the Go-Getter Girl must deal with a certain amount of pressure, her personality also allows her to accomplish things others of her peers cannot. If she is able to find balance in her life, she has the potential to become a true leader.

Romance is often a secondary concern in such a character's life; she's more focused on her future for the time being. If her mind does turn to love, she's liable to look for someone of a status befitting her own perceived value. In the case where she is secretly attracted to someone she sees as beneath her, expect a lot of furious denials and put-downs as she (generally unsuccessfully) tries to distance herself from her feelings.

If the Go-Getter Girl is in high school, she is very often a Class Representative or Student Council President, as well as focused on entering the Ivy League, Oxbridge, or Tokyo University. College Go-Getter Girls will be racking up internships and academic distinctions as they position themselves for an appealing job when they graduate. The oldest a Go-Getter Girl is likely to be is her late 20s or early 30s; by this time, if they have continued to stay on the path to success, they will have begun to take on real responsibilities and grown into a different trope.

Go-Getter Boys can exist, but they are much rarer. This may be due to the historical legacies of sexism, as discrimination has forced women to prove themselves in order to get the same rewards as men. For this reason, a boy with academic talents or personal charisma is more likely to focus on developing those traits alone, without the need to appear perfect in other areas.

Compare and contrast with Plucky Girl, a similarly strong and determined character type, but one that shows more comfort with breaking rules and flouting social conventions, as well as The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask, who has these pressures thrust upon her as a member of royalty rather than freely choosing them.

Examples:

[[folder: Anime and Manga]]

  • A good example is Yukina Miyazawa from Kare Kano, who maintains a facade of outward perfection in order to obtain praise from others. Her classmate's accidental discovery of the girl behind the mask kicks off both the plot and her own path to self-discovery.
  • Utena Tenjou from Revolutionary Girl Utena painfully learns the difference between holding an ideal of achievement and managing actual leadership.
  • Lafiel from Crest of the Stars does not coast on her status as a Princess, but instead desires to prove herself as a commander in her own right.
  • Asuka Langley Soryu from Neon Genesis Evangelion wants to be this but, due to her traumatic background, does not have the mental health to do so. Her unprovoked rudeness to perceived inferior Shinji is an early sign of the desperation behind her driven personality.
  • Naru Narusegawa from Love Hina, as demonstrated by her obsession with entering into Tokyo University.
  • Nana from Nana to Kaoru is so wrapped up in her quest for achievement, the only thing that can help her relax is a good session of BDSM.
  • Sumire in Kimi Wa Petto is an interesting case. As a woman in her late 20s, she represents the older age limit of this type. While she is well on the way to achieving professional success, she finds herself facing multiple personal anxieties due to the compromises and life decisions she had made along the way. The epilogue shows a happy ending, where she has managed to combine a fulfilling career with a loving relationship, albeit with the very last type of man she would have expected.
  • Ayaka Machida in Stellvia of the Universe is extremely ambitious, to the point where she is ready to commit amoral and outright criminal acts to come out on top.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Film]]

  • Tracy Flick from Election epitomizes the negative aspects of this trope, as her need for achievement is shown to get in the way of her forming meaningful personal relationships.
  • In Legally Blonde, Vivian Kensington is the prototypical hard-working, serious Harvard Law School student, which is why the ditzy yet competent Elle Woods annoys her to no end.

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[[folder: Literature]]

  • Hermione Granger, full stop. A good example of how someone can navigate through the pitfalls of this trope and end up a mature, balanced woman.
  • Eilonway from The Chronicles of Prydain is very devoted to achieving excellence as an enchantress, and, like Hermione, can be somewhat snotty to those she sees as slacking off.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Live Action TV]]

  • Rory Gilmore from Gilmore Girls.
  • Sabrina from Sabrina the Teenage Witch becomes this. She is something of a nerd in high school and devotes herself to her ambitions of becoming a journalist.
  • Laura Palmer from Twin Peaks is a subversion of this. She does well at school, has a part time job, a boyfriend, and regularly volunteers with a local Meals on Wheels... But the deeper the investigation into her death probes, the darker her life seems.
  • Topanga Lawerance from Boy Meets World starts off as a weird Granola Girl, but develops into this trope as the series goes on.

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[[folder: Newspaper Comics]]

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[[folder: Video Games]]

  • Mitsuru Kiritsugu from Persona 3 may have originally have taken on this role because of her family responsibilities, but she certainly pulls it off (even if she sometimes thinks about what it would be like otherwise).

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[[folder: Visual Novels]]

  • Rin Tohsaka from Fate/stay night could be a Most Triumphant Example. Drive to excel? Check. Need to present a perfect front to her peers? Check. Secret impolite, slacker side? Check. Willingness to put personal relationships aside in order to attain her goals? Check (sorry, Sakura). Luckily for her, she has a good heart and a resiliant personality which sees her through even after running into setbacks.
  • Shizune from Katawa Shoujo has this personality, while at the same time needing to deal with her deafness. Perhaps because of this, she often comes off as more abrasive than others of this type.
  • Young Eva from Umineko no Naku Koro ni started out like this in high school. Then her father told her she could never become family head because she was a woman. Things got worse from there...

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Western Animation]]

  • Lisa Simpson from The Simpsons often will behave like this, although she is still young enough to balance it out with moments of acting like a normal girl.
  • Azula from Avatar: The Last Airbender is a good example of why this is a bad thing to be if you grow up in a ruthless family and culture environment. Not only does meeting people's expectations in this case mean turning terrifyingly evil, but the need to throw love and kindness to the wayside is enough to turn one insane at the first hint of a setback.
    • Katara also has some of these traits.

[[/folder]]
Community Feedback Replies: 11
  • June 14, 2012
    Duncan
    In Victorian era, this was the Spirited Young Lady.
  • June 14, 2012
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    Laura Palmer from Twin Peaks is a subversion of this. She does well at school, has a part time job, a boyfriend, and regularly volunteers with a local Meals on Wheels... But the deeper the investigation into her death probes, the darker her life seems.

    Also, Rory Gilmore from Gilmore Girls.

    Sabrina from Sabrina The Teenage Witch becomes this. She is something of a nerd in high school and devotes herself to her ambitions of becoming a journalist.

    I would try to lose a lot of the negativity around this trope though. It doesn't seem like a bad thing at all and characters like Hermione, Lisa Simpson, and Rory Gilmore are ambitious but not emotionally unbalanced. Some parts of this trope read like a Genki Girl and I feel like the Iron Lady reference at the end is misguided?

    I'm not trying to tear it down, but maybe you could make clearer between the good examples of this trope (young girls who are clever and driven and put a great deal of energy into acheiving their goals) and the bad (young girls who become ruthless, manipulative or an Ice Princess in pursuit of their goals, or who come from a bad background and lack good role models).
  • June 14, 2012
    BokhuraBurnes
    Thanks for the feedback. I don't see this as a bad trope at all, and I didn't mean for it to come off as negative. (I did some minor editing to reduce any such perceived bias).

    However, I might not have gotten the emphasis correct. Although they are both strong, determined character types, the way a Go-Getter Girl differs from a Genki Girl, Plucky Girl, or Spirited Young Lady is that she pays great attention to maintaining discipline, following the rules, and gaining the approval of others. Whereas the three other types might be comfortable doing 'shocking' things in the eye of society (within reason, of course), the Go-Getter Girl would be very averse to acting this way. Not that she won't, if it's an important enough cause, but it still won't be her inclination. (Think, for example, of Hermione; while she will break school rules to fight Voldemort, she never shows the same comfort in doing so that Harry and Ron do.)

    And I still like the Iron Lady reference; if you practice getting ahead when you're young, and then manage to gain a certain amount of power, you'll most likely end up acting like one.
  • June 14, 2012
    Prime_of_Perfection
    Really love the creation of this trope! Mainly since I've seen examples of it around so much & own protagonist I write is first person example of this.

    Another addition I can think to add is Topanga Lawerance from Boy Meets World as the series goes on. She starts as a weird Granola Girl, but develops into this trope as the series goes on.
  • June 14, 2012
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    Oh no, I totally get what you mean. It's obvious that you had a clear idea of what the trope is and I'm sorry if my comment came off as rude. I guess the negativity just struck me as weird. I also thought we had some kind of Career Woman trope that might fit better but I was wrong.
  • June 14, 2012
    BokhuraBurnes
    Well, I don't want this to be a primarily negative trope -- let me know if it comes off that way! However, I do see it as somewhat double-edged -- the same ambition and drive that can lead to success can also blind one to more important things in life. My ideal for this trope is one where both positive and negative facets are mixed together.

    And no, you didn't come off as rude at all -- don't worry about it!
  • June 15, 2012
    BokhuraBurnes
    bump
  • June 15, 2012
    Koveras
    • Ayaka Machida in Stellvia Of The Universe is extremely ambitious, to the point where she is ready to commit amoral and outright criminal acts to come out on top.
  • June 28, 2012
    BokhuraBurnes
    Bump. Let me know if this is launchable, or if there needs to be further revisions. I would like to move on this either way, so feedback is really helpful.
  • June 29, 2012
    BokhuraBurnes
    Bumping again -- still would like feedback (either way) on this. I don't really want to launch without hats, but if no one has any more comments/criticisms about areas for improvement, I would be prepared to do so.
  • July 4, 2012
    BokhuraBurnes
    Ok, I'm launching this -- would have preferred to wait for more hats, but with no feedback either way, it's not clear anything else needs to be done. It can easily be edited once launched.
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