Created By: surgoshan on April 22, 2012 Last Edited By: bwburke94 on January 22, 2013

The Wizard From Ordinaryville

A schmo from Ordinaryville is The Ace in fantasyland.

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"I don't mean to rain on your parade, but we both know that an expert is someone from off-planet with a briefcase." -- Colonel Battleaxe

Meet Mike Johnson. He's an ordinary kid from an ordinary town with a paper route and trouble talking to the girl he likes. He has a dog and a bedroom and a haircut. He seems destined to grow up, go to refrigerator repair school, get married, and never leave the humble town of Everyburg.

Then Mike gets magically whisked off to Magical Land! He meets elves and fights ogres. He has no frickin' clue how magic works and the social rules and local government are a complete mystery, but thanks to his ability ride a bike and an understanding of how a ground rule double works, he can solve every single problem that has plagued these unwashed heathens for the last five thousand years and rule over them like unto a god. He is... The Wizard From Ordinaryville.

The original Trope Namer was The Wizard of Oz. A travelling carny from Omaha with a penchant for fake magic gets whisked away in his hot air balloon to a land of real magic and ends up ruling there as an unquestioned tyrant, the Great and Powerful Oz.

Unlike a Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond, where the protagonist possesses a power that makes him unique in Magical Land, The Wizard didn't stand out in Ordinaryville and stands out even less in Fantasyland.

Compare to Summon Everyman Hero, where it's explicitly stated that The Everyman is exactly what Magical Land needs, and Down the Rabbit Hole. May have Unfortunate Implications of the Mighty Whitey type.


Examples:

Comics
  • Adam Strange of DC Comics. Here, he's just a scientist. On Rann, he's the greatest superhero on the planet.

Film
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • Josh Kirby Time Warrior. The title character is just an ordinary kid (or so he thinks) until he gets caught up in a journey to save time from some evil maniac in a robotic suit. He saves the day numerous times, despite having virtually no experience wielding a sword, not being particularly intelligent, powerful, or skilled. Subverted later, since it turns out he has time manipulation powers.
  • In Mom and Dad Save the World, the title characters prove to be this because the invading aliens' hat is Too Stupid To Live.
  • Ash from Army Of Darkness was a department store clerk in our era, yet took this trope Up to Eleven after his encounters with the supernatural and unintended trip though time.

Literature
  • The Wizard of Oz: See above. The titular character was considered as the Trope Namer, but the trope was ultimately given a generic name.
  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court: A nineteenth-century man with an inexplicably encyclopedic knowledge of all technology takes advantage of Clarke's Third Law to remake 6th century England as a modern paradise.
  • In the Wiz Biz series, "Wiz" Zumwalt is an ordinary computer programmer, who becomes the mightiest wizard in Fantasyland by analyzing the magic.
  • In The Chronicles of Narnia, the Pevensee children become kings and queens because of pre-existing prophesy.
  • The protagonist of the Cross-Time Engineer novels is another example in the Connecticut Yankee vein.
  • In the Spellsinger series, Jon-Tom's knowledge of such Real World trivia as aerobics, socialist political science, and TV commercials wind up saving the party just as often as his emerging magical talent.
  • Simon Hawke's Reluctant Sorcerer trilogy deconstructs the "inexplicably knowing things" part by having the "ordinary man" be a genius Absent-Minded Professor and Omnidisciplinary Scientist.

Live Action TV
  • A very-nearly real life version in The West Wing, when a reporter ends up worshiped as a god by a tribe of cannibals because of his palm pilot's ability to predict the next day's weather.

Music
  • The concept album Eldorado by Electric Light Orchestra follows a man on a mission to escape the real world and take up permanent residence in his dream world so he can be this.

Western Animation
  • In The Simpsons episode "Lisa The Drama Queen", Lisa and her friend create a fantasy land where they're the rulers.
  • Ned Frischman was Dave the Barbarian, who is able to dominate the past with video games and a joke book from 1940.
Community Feedback Replies: 35
  • April 22, 2012
    reub2000
    • In The Simpsons episode "Lisa The Drama Queen", Lisa and her friend create a fantasy land where they're the rulers.

    I have to ask, are examples where geeks are represented by much more powerful avatars in video games count as examples?
  • April 22, 2012
    Catbert
  • April 22, 2012
    bulmabriefs144
    Josh Kirby Time Warrior. The title character is just an ordinary kid (or so he thinks) until he gets caught up in a journey to save time from some evil maniac in a robotic suit. He saves the day numerous times, despite having virtually no experience wielding a sword, not being particularly intelligent, powerful, or skilled. Subverted later, since it turns out he has time manipulation powers.
  • April 22, 2012
    elwoz
    Closely related to Normal Fish In A Tiny Pond. May have Unfortunate Implications of the Mighty Whitey type.

    Literature: in the Wiz Biz series, "Wiz" Zumwalt is an ordinary computer programmer, who becomes the mightiest wizard in Fantasyland by analyzing the magic.

    The book, not the movie, of The Wizard Of Oz should get the Trope Namer tag.
  • April 23, 2012
    surgoshan
    ^^^^ I wouldn't think so, reub.
  • April 23, 2012
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    Film:

    Literature:
  • April 23, 2012
    SharleeD
    • In the Spellsinger series, Jon-Tom's knowledge of such Real World trivia as aerobics, socialist political science, and TV commercials wind up saving the party just as often as his emerging magical talent.

    • The protagonist of the Cross-Time Engineer novels is another example in the Connecticut Yankee vein.

    • Ash from Army Of Darkness was a department store clerk in our era, yet took this trope Up To Eleven after his encounters with the supernatural and unintended trip though time.
  • April 23, 2012
    foxley
    Ned Frischman was Dave The Barbarian, who is able to dominate the past with video games and a joke book from 1940.
  • April 23, 2012
    elwoz
    You know, you could change the lede to "Meet Oscar Zoroaster", and Everyburg to Omaha, and you'd have yourself a nice little Genius Bonus.
  • April 23, 2012
    dalek955
    I fail to see how this differs from Normal Fish In A Tiny Pond. The examples you have are fairly extreme, but they all fit into Normal Fish.
  • April 24, 2012
    surgoshan
    Except the normal fish is in some way extraordinary compared to the tinypondians, yes? The Wizard isn't, really.
  • April 24, 2012
    arromdee
    Spellsinger is another example.
  • April 24, 2012
    peccantis
    ...and we're supposed to know that Omaha = Ordinaryville? How about just calling it The Wizard From Plaintown / Ordinaryville / something like that?
  • April 25, 2012
    Arivne
    The only way someone will know about the significance of the Wizard-Omaha link is if they're either:
    • Such a fan of the 1939 movie that they remember that the Wizard's balloon had the word "Omaha" on it.
    • So familiar with L Frank Baum's novel that they remember that the Wizard was from Omaha.

    The title's obscurity means that it's a Bad Trope Namer, violates the first rule of Clear Concise Witty, and goes against our Naming A Trope policy which forbids new Trope Namers for this reason.
  • April 25, 2012
    Duncan
    Simon Hawke's Reluctant Sorcerer trilogy deconstructs the "inexplicably knowing things" part by having the "ordinary man" be a genius Absent Minded Professor and Omnidisciplinary Scientist.
  • April 26, 2012
    elwoz
    ^^ We've gotten too hung up on names lately. The joke is good enough that it's okay if not everyone gets it.
  • April 27, 2012
    peccantis
    ^ sorry to burst your bubble, but Clear Concise Witty, in that order, is pretty much an official rule these days.
  • April 27, 2012
    elwoz
    ^ I don't care who says it. That policy is wrong.
  • April 27, 2012
    Surenity
    Live Action TV:

    • In The Tenth Kingdom, it's eventually revealed that the evil Queen is none other than the protagonist's mother, who she thought abandoned her as a child but actually accidentally traveled through a portal from New York to a fairy tale universe.
  • April 27, 2012
    EddieValiantJr
  • April 28, 2012
    DracMonster
    ^^^ Fast Eddie, who owns the servers says it. You'll have to take it up with him...
  • May 2, 2012
    NateTheGreat
    Adam Strange of DC Comics. Here, he's just a scientist. On Rann, he's the greatest superhero on the planet.
  • May 12, 2012
    MorganWick
    I'm actually tempted to suggest Ordinary Man Turned Wizard.
  • May 13, 2012
    allthedumbthings
    I'm wondering of Howl from Howl'sMovingCastle (the book, not the Miyazaki film) counts as this? He is an exceptionally powerful wizard in the made up land of Ingary, but, as Sophie learns, back home in Wales he's just your ordinary schmuck.
  • May 13, 2012
    peccantis
    What is schmo?
  • May 13, 2012
    BlueIceTea
    What was wrong with Wizard From Omaha??? Was someone worried that the readers wouldn't know what "Omaha" was???

    "Ordinaryville" just sounds silly. Even ignoring the Wizard Of Oz reference bonus, the original name was still better.
  • May 13, 2012
    Jordan
    I think Howl would be a good example.

    Also, wondering if Captain Shakespeare of the film of Stardust would count. The backstory he gives is that of an American farmboy who liked to read, and he ends up becoming a feared Sky Pirate in a fantasy dimension that parallels the real world.
  • May 14, 2012
    peccantis
    ^^ No one was worried of people not knowing what Omaha is (a place in the USA), but there were concerns of no one knowing what Omaha would mean (a place where one wouldn't expect a wizard to come from).

    How about Wizard From Muggle Town?
  • May 18, 2012
    BlueIceTea
    Well at least Muggle-Town is better. Although if we're objecting to Wizard of Oz references, shouldn't Harry Potter references also be out?

    No offence to people from Omaha, but if you live outside of the U.S. I think your conception of the state is probably "one of the ones in the middle". In other words, a place that's obscure, unremarkable, ordinary.
  • May 19, 2012
    peccantis
    ^ as for HP references, we have Muggle for all non-magic, non-super, all-around mundane people
  • January 18, 2013
    elwoz
    I think there's a real trope in here somewhere, but the description is a mess and contradicts itself and/or the laconic in places. And I still think "The Wizard from Omaha" was a better title than what we have now, but I'm open to even better ideas.
  • January 21, 2013
    randomsurfer
  • January 21, 2013
    JonnyB
    Thomas Covenant in the Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant would probably count. In our world, he's an outcast leper; in The Land, he "wields the white gold ring."
  • January 21, 2013
    DRCEQ
    The titular character from Captain N The Game Master is an ordinary gamer/high school jock who gets sucked into the world of the games he enjoys playing. Using his knowledge of his own world combined with his gamer Genre Saavy-ness allows him to be the perfect choice to fight off the evil Mother Brain and her minions.
  • January 22, 2013
    NESBoy
    Inverted with Orko from He Man And The Masters Of The Universe, whose magical powers rarely worked outside of his home world of Trolla.
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