Created By: TheKingsRaven on December 27, 2013 Last Edited By: TheKingsRaven on December 29, 2013
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Sliding Scale of Muggle Involvement

How much do muggles affect the plot?

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The sliding scale of muggle involvement measures how much impact ordinary people have on the plot of an urban fantasy story.

The lowest levels of muggle involvement is when there are no muggles in an important role at all, or just one or two token muggles. Instead, every character with a large impact upon the plot is part of the supernatural underworld, however more important muggles may show up in the first few chapters before the protagonist's Call to Adventure.

The middle ground for muggle involvement is when the plot is clearly about the supernatural but muggles and muggle institutions clearly impact the plot. The police might unaware of magic and thus be unable to solve the murder of a high profile wizard, but their investigation still has an important effect on the plot. An attempt to gather a set of McGuffins might be hindered by the fact several have already found their way into museums or private collections.

At the high level muggles drive the plot. They frequently cause plot significant events for reasons entirely unrelated to the supernatural and even supernatural beings spend a lot of time worrying about purely mundane things.

For the purposes of this trope Occult Detectives, Monster Hunters and other characters who have no supernatural abilities but are considered unusual because they have seen through The Masquerade are considered to be honorary supernaturals.

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Dragon Ball and later Z had this happen in conjunction with Can't Catch Up. By the later arcs of Z your impact to the plot became radically lower if you weren't: an alien, part alien, a god, an alien god, or a robot.

Film
  • Ghostbusters features high muggle involvement. While the Ghostbusters themselves are defined by their interest in the paranormal the majority of characters are regular humans and an investigation of the firehouse by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is a major plot event.

Literature
  • In Rivers of London the protagonists are all police-employed magicians investigating supernatural crimes but the cast consists of many ordinary people such as police officers, jazz musicians or Peter's family. When they are aware of the supernatural it is never portrayed as character defining trait, or rarely a trait at all.
  • The Dresden Files varies by book but has at times gone entire books without including a single character not in the know.
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is firmly rooted in muggledom. The first two books revolves around the magicians interaction with high society and the Napoleonic War. Even when the plot shifts to focus on Strange's conflict with The Gentleman With Thistledown Hair the vast majority of characters are still ordinary people.
  • Paul Cornell's novel London Falling manages to include a high level of muggle involvement in a world with a strong Extra-Strength Masquerade. While the villain is a witch and the protagonists possess The Sight the vast majority of the characters are regular people. The protagonists job as police officers is given as much importance as their modest supernatural abilities and their motivation is simply to arrest a criminal, supernatural or not.
  • The Harry Potter series has very low muggle involvement, with the only ones regularly appearing are Harry's Uncle, Aunt, and Cousin.

Western Animation
  • Ugly Americans has high muggle involvement. Zombies, wizards, demons and such are treated as ethnic minorities, and the main characters work for an agency charged with integrating them into mainstream society.
Community Feedback Replies: 12
  • December 27, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Please remove the type labels. They encourage people to add examples in the form "work X is type Y", which violates our Type Labels Are Not Examples policy.
  • December 27, 2013
    TheKingsRaven
    Done.
  • December 27, 2013
    randomtroper89
    • The Harry Potter series has very low muggle involvement, with the only ones regularly appearing are Harry's Uncle, Aunt, and Cousin.
  • December 27, 2013
    TonyG
    Ugly Americans has high muggle involvement. Zombies, wizards, demons and such are treated as ethnic minorities, and the main characters work for an agency charged with integrating them into mainstream society.
  • December 27, 2013
    Earnest
    Good trope.

    • Dragon Ball and later Z had this happen in conjunction with Cant Catch Up. By the later arcs of Z your impact to the plot became radically lower if you weren't: an alien, part alien, a god, an alien god, or a robot.
  • December 27, 2013
    Mauri
    Maybe you could put it like: at 1 it is almost null involvement while at 2 there is some invovlement... until 5 which means muggles have plenty of involvement.

    Just a thought.
  • December 28, 2013
    Koveras
    This is tied intrinsically to the Superhero Prevalence Stages: the later the stage, the less relevant muggles are to the plots.
  • December 28, 2013
    Arivne
    Namespaced and italicized work titles, Blue Linked McGuffin, formatted the Examples section, sorted the examples by media and corrected some spelling errors.
  • December 28, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    so in the end, this is just a list of works where muggles have differing amounts of involvement in a fantasy plot? seems more like a Trivia than a trope.

    by the way, fix the Example As A Thesis, it's unnecessary and just serves as useless filler since there'll be examples at the end of the article anyway,
  • December 28, 2013
    DAN004
    Maybe change the laconic into "how much do muggles affect the plot?"
  • December 28, 2013
    TheKingsRaven
    Updated it with proposed examples and changes.
  • December 29, 2013
    abateman
    Lost Girl - The side kick is the only human with a real impact on the plot, but she might not count under your definition due to being an "honorary supernatural". She even gets temporary powers a couple times.

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http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=amk495ocoieb35zv0ev79yke&trope=SlidingScaleOfMuggleInvolvement