"If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."
When The Leader
makes an unpopular move to further the team's goals, at least one character will disagree and blame them for any and all negative effects, regardless of whether they were known as effects by the leader beforehand. This isn't limited to life or death situations where the leader justifiably did what was necessary
and someone had to die. This criticism can be anywhere from a justifiable "What the hell, leader?"
to whiny and ungrateful
snarking over something petty.
It bears mentioning that Tropes Are Not Bad
, and this trope can serve to turn a bland Standardized Leader
into a more tragic, Rounded Character
. However, this trope can be poorly handled if the criticisms are unfounded, immature or excessive. In extreme cases this snarking can be leveled at the leader for things that might
have happened, or for things they had no control over
and no reasonable way of foreseeing/predicting. If the snarker acknowledges the leader's accomplishment(s) at all, it will be followed by an "But at what cost?"
The leader's attitude towards these criticisms can be any of the following: silently bearing it without getting more than a quick interjection in, angrily demanding what they'd have done differently (most Commander Contrarians
blank at this), or jadedly admiting that they'd do it again in order to get the mission done. One especially poignant rejoinder is for the leader to explain, in detail, how The Chains of Commanding
means every mistake is remembered and no ammount of outside recrimination can compare. Their own conscience is a harsher judge.
There's also constructive criticism, which is neither What the Hell, Hero?
nor mindless rebellion. In this case, expect the protagonist to act conceited, reject the criticism (on the grounds of, well... "Not Now, Kiddo
") and end up screwing things up. So he learns the hard way
that he should listen to his teammates once in a while
This is commonly a prerogative of the Sarcastic Devotee
and the Servile Snarker
This is frequently the response to democratically elected leaders by their opponents, so this trope is very much Truth in Television
. Do we want. Real Life section?
- X-Men leader Scot Summers and team founder Charles Xavier are frequent targets of this.
- Jake got flack in Animorphs for his endgame decisions on the Pool Ship.
- Disney's old Swamp Fox series had an episode where Marion got flack for forgetting about the war and hunting down the man who killed his nephew. He was smart enough to realise his mistake and get his focus back.
- Aqualad in Young Justice was on the receiving end of this for not telling his team that he suspected there was a mole. While his reasons for not telling them were perfectly well founded, no one was really interested in hearing them in preference of teenage drama. (Though in their defence, they are teens and Aqualad is new to leading).
- In a WWE arc, Vince Macmahon deliberately tried to execute this trope on Bret Hart (who had held a perpetual grudge over Vince due to the Montreal Screwjob), appointing him as General Manager to show him how being a good businessman means making decisions that aren't always popular. Indeed Bret very quickly upsets the younger Harts with his decisions. However Vince couldn't resist gleefully firing him before this trope reached any further.
- In Mass Effect 1, Commander Shepard has to make a Sadistic Choice of leaving one of two squadmates stranded on Virmire to die by nuke. Afterwards, the other one will call out Shepard on making the wrong choice, regardless of what you actually choose.
- Mass Effect 2 sees Shepard be criticized by some squadmates if s/he chooses to give the Collector base to Cerberus.