Created By: Bisected8 on January 11, 2014 Last Edited By: Bisected8 on February 9, 2014
Troped

Seriously Scruffy - Preparing For Launch!

A dishevelled appearence which serves as shorthand for being busy or stressed.

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With the long hours at a hospital, you don't have a lot of time to worry about your appearance.
JD, Scrubs "My Clean Break"

[[caption-width-right:350:The project was only 9 days in.]]

This trope is about characters who, for various reasons, don't have time for the usual grooming rituals or to keep their personal space tidy. It can be a one time thing (to show a given character is under pressure or has become obsessed with something) or part of their normal characterisation. Either way, they have something other than their appearance on their mind.

The reasons for this can be external; events out of the character's control are keeping them from a nice warm shower. Or they can be internal; the person in question's let their appearance slide because they're more interested in what they're doing. The former can either emphasise the significance of what they're doing (i.e. their job's hard) or suggest the character's having difficulty dealing with it (i.e. they're bad at their job). The latter tends to simply mark the character out as devoted to their job (or whatever it is they're doing) and is far more likely to be Played for Laughs. Although it can still be Played for Drama, especially when it's motivated by guilt.

Characters who frequently show this trait include the Defective Detective (and their more well adjusted colleagues when the situation's really serious), the Salaryman/White Collar Worker, The Atoner, Workaholics and the Absent-Minded Professor. The Panicky Expectant Father is an example of the "one time" variation (although looking after their new offspring might make the trope stick). It can also be a sign of a Bunny-Ears Lawyer, Sanity Slippage and the reason somebody's a Genius Slob. Someone who Must Have Caffeine will often display this trope with or without the two being connected (in the former case, it might be cleared up after they've had their fix). Plot-Powered Stamina tends to have this as a side effect when it's being played more realistically.

This is, obviously, Truth in Television; Your personal appearance needs daily maintenance (clean clothes, washing, combing hair, shaving, etc.), so it's usually the first thing to slip when someone's pressed for time.

Supertrope to Messy Hair and Einstein Hair (which specifically marks someone as a Mad Scientist). Compare Fashionable Asymmetry and Rummage Sale Reject for other wardrobe problems, Beard of Sorrow and Mess of Woe for depression induced deterioration and Forgets to Eat. Contrast The Pigpen (who's a mess because they're lazy rather than busy) and the more positive Adrenaline Makeover.

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • L from Death Note is a genius detective who rarely seems to even sleep (let alone do something about his hair or put on something other than a baggy white shirt and trousers) when he's working on a case.
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex often shows this trope when the team are burning the midnight oil (along with many empty or half empty boxes of pizza and cigarette stubs). Mainly Ishikawa (and whoever ends up helping him), since he does most of the research related work. Togusa also falls into this when he's investigating the death of a former colleague in "Interceptor".
  • Inverted by Dr. Stein in Soul Eater. When his appearance is going downhill, it's usually a sign he's in no fit state to work. In the anime, after the Kisin is released, Soul drags Maka away from her studies to play basketball in order to avert this trope.

Film
  • Discussed in Spider-Man; Aunt May remarks that Peter is so busy that he often leaves his room untidy.

Literature
  • The "Work" edition of the Worst Case Scenario Handbook series of Faux To Guides suggests invoking this (messing up your hair and clothes) as a tactic to avoid being made redundant.
  • Combined with Mess of Woe in The Count of Monte Cristo when Villefort works several days nonstop to keep his mind off the death of his in-laws and his daughter, looking dishevelled and unshaved (though he shapes up in time for the trial).
  • The Discworld's unshaven and scruffy cop Samuel Vimes prefers to conform to this trope, although his wife is quite insistent that he maintain appearances after he marries her. One of his monologues even notes his disgust at a palace guard's sword, since it didn't show any nicks and dents and clearly never saw any use (as opposed to a well maintained sword which still showed wear and tear).

Live Action Television
  • A recurring theme in Scrubs is the difficulty of looking good while working at a hospital;
    • "My Clean Break"'s B-Plot is about Elliot's habit of averting this (by getting up early), making the rest of the staff resent her.
    • Another episode features Elliot herself trying to get around this trope while chatting up an attractive patient.
    • Ted the lawyer always looks a mess thanks to his status as Dr. Kelso's whipping boy (and constantly dealing with lawsuits).
  • An episode of Seinfeld has Jerry and Kramer swap apartments. Thanks to a "Kenny Roger's Roasters" sign which shines into Kramer's window, this happens to Jerry:
    Jerry: [imitating Kramer's body language] Oh,...I'm stressed!
  • In Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined)'s first "Real" episode (33), Adama and Tigh are both sporting very noticeable facial hair. As the characters have been attacked near constantly for a week, this is understandable.
  • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine this is used as shorthand to show that there's something physically wrong with a changeling. If Odo has gone too long without a regeneration cycle his usually immaculate uniform starts to darken and flake and his slicked-back hair gets crazy. Also seen with the female Founder in the last season, courtesy of Section 31's bioweapon.
  • Community: In one of the documentary episodes, the Dean gets Annie to work as a script supervisor while he directs a commercial. He suffers from a severe case of Sanity Slippage, and after several days of putting up with his increasingly bizarre demands, Annie is completely out of it and ungroomed. She rationalizes the Dean's behaviour because she doesn't want to admit that she's wasted several weeks of her life helping him.
  • The great detective Series/Columbo, the walking epitome of shabby-efficient. Like Sam Vimes, his wife appears to make sure he's better groomed off the job.

Music
  • The video for "Le Café" by Oldelaf features an office worker who slowly deteriorates thorough the day, thanks to the stress caused by work and too much coffee. The result is played for Black Comedy.

Web Animation

Western Animation
  • Stressed Eric plays this trope for laughs with the main character. As he gets more stressed, the vein on his temple throbs until it eventually bursts out and strangles him. Naturally, his environment tends to be rather cluttered, too.
  • Twilight Sparkle of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has a tendency to turn into a disheveled mess whenever stressed or preoccupied. She usually ends up turning her library inside out in the process. Exaggerated in "Lesson Zero" (where forgetting to write a letter causes her to almost go completely insane).
  • Inverted in Wander over Yonder: The titular character suffers stress from being prevented from helping, or from his curiosity being denied but doing so actually clears it up. The stress takes the form of his eyes changing color, pupils changing size, his fur getting frizzy and brittle, and patches appearing on his hat.
  • The 100th episode of The Simpsons introduces Principal Skinner with a dishevelled appearance from having a hectic day in his office.

Community Feedback Replies: 67
  • January 11, 2014
    KTera
    Also see Beard Of Sorrow, where a character becomes too depressed to maintain his facial hair.
  • January 11, 2014
    DAN004
    • Lampshaded in Spider Man; Aunt May remarks that Peter is so busy that he often leaves his room untidy.
  • January 11, 2014
    Bisected8
    Could you elaborate a bit on the context? This is more about how the character looks, not their surroundings.
  • January 11, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ Does it have to be the character's looks?
  • January 11, 2014
    Bisected8
    ...I suppose not.
  • January 12, 2014
    Arivne
    Compare the Mess Of Woe YKTTW, which is a more specific version of this caused by grief.
  • January 12, 2014
    Alvin
    On an episode of Seinfeld where Jerry and Kramer change apartments, with a Kenny Roger's Roasters sign shining in Kramer's window, this happens to Jerry: Jerry (imitating Kramer's body language):"Oh,...I'm stressed!"
  • January 13, 2014
    Bisected8
    So...is the description clear?

    Is the title OK?

    Any suggestions for a page image or quote?
  • January 14, 2014
    Bisected8
    I've added an image, but I think we can do better than that...
  • January 15, 2014
    Bisected8
    No suggestions for a better image at all?
  • January 15, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ It's good already.
  • January 15, 2014
    Bisected8
    Oh...

    Well, is the description clear?
  • January 16, 2014
    saintdane05
    • In Battlestar Galactica's first "Real" episode (33), Adama and Tigh are both sporting very noticeable facial hair. As the characters have been attacked near constantly for a week, this is Understandable.

  • January 17, 2014
    Psi001
    • Twilight Sparkle of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic has a tendency to turn into a disheveled mess whenever stressed or preoccupied. She usually ends up turning her library inside out in the process. Taken Up To Eleven in "Lesson Zero".
  • January 17, 2014
    Chabal2
    Noted in The Count Of Monte Cristo when Villefort works several days nonstop to keep his mind off the death of his in-laws and his daughter, looking dishevelled and unshaved (though he shapes up in time for the trial).
  • January 18, 2014
    Bisected8
    Well, that seems like enough examples.

    Any thoughts on the name? Hats, perhaps?
  • January 19, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    Second paragraph has a bad case of Para Bombing.

    also, not really keen on the current trope image, seems rather dull and muted. not really getting the "scruffiness" in him, hell, Dream of The Sandman easily beats him, and he doesn't seem to count.

    you no take my hat yet.
  • January 19, 2014
    Bisected8
    Para Bombing is multiple bracketed comments which go off on tangents unrelated to the paragraph, not simply having multiple bracketed comments in a paragraph. Well, I've rewritten it anyway.

    Personally, I chose the page image because it made it clear that the mess and the general chaos was because he was under pressure (my first idea was to find a frame from "Le Cafe"'s music video, but I couldn't really see one that fit).
  • January 20, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    ^ "parabombing" OIC.

    that's a good reason but i reiterate that the image is rather muted due to the clean artstyle.
  • January 20, 2014
    Bisected8
    I'm not sure I understand? Surely a drawing of a mess is a drawing of a mess....

    What would you suggest as an alternative?
  • January 23, 2014
    StarSword
    TV:
    • In Star Trek Deep Space Nine this is used as shorthand to show that there's something physically wrong with a changeling. If Odo has gone too long without a regeneration cycle his usually immaculate uniform starts to darken and flake and his slicked-back hair gets crazy. Also seen with the female Founder in the last season, courtesy of Section 31's bioweapon.
  • January 23, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    Bisected8

    well, maybe something from a TV Series or Film? that ought to look damn messy.
  • January 24, 2014
    Bisected8
    I still don't understand what you mean by the art style being "clean"....

    Also, do you have any suggestions (open question; if anyone can think of a good example, I'm all ears)?
  • January 24, 2014
    frosty
    In regards to the art style being clean: The background is definitely messy, and he's definitely stressed, but he doesn't look dishevelled. The following isn't a great example, but it's the only one I could come up with to illustrate it: http://sarahunfiltered.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/annie-edison-community.jpg%3Fw%3D228%26h%3D355

    vs

    http://ib4.huluim.com/video/60005195?region=US&size=220x124
  • January 24, 2014
    Bisected8
    Ah, that makes sense.

    Those two pictures are too different in size, but something along those lines as a before & after (ideally with something providing context for the cause of the "after") would be perfect!
  • January 24, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    ^ he explained it better than i did.
  • January 28, 2014
    Bisected8
    I just tried looking on the Ghost In The Shell example to see if it could provide a page image, but it has the same problem as the current one (you can infer that Togusa's a mess, but the art style doesn't really show it).

    Any other ideas?
  • January 28, 2014
    frosty
    I went ahead and GIM Ped together my example. Here. Suggested caption: The project was only 9 days in.
  • January 28, 2014
    Bisected8
    Ooo, I'll start a list!

    What show's she from, BTW?
  • January 28, 2014
    frosty
    Community. The specific episode is Advanced Documentary Filmmaking: Redux. I'll write up an example.

    Live-Action TV
    • Community: In one of the documentary episodes, the Dean gets Annie to work as a script supervisor while he directs a commercial. He suffers from a severe case of Sanity Slippage, and after several days of putting up with his increasingly bizarre demands, Annie is completely out of it and ungroomed. She rationalizes the Dean's behaviour because she doesn't want to admit that she's wasted several weeks of her life helping him.
  • January 29, 2014
    Bisected8
    Good, good.

    So, has anyone got any other suggestions/support for suggestions?

    Or thoughts on the description, page quote and title, for that matter.
  • January 29, 2014
    Larkmarn
    Compare Adrenaline Makeover, where someone's disheveled look is seen as a good thing.

    I like the Community image better, while Stressed Eric's workspace looks messy, the simplistic art style doesn't seem that scruffy to me.

    • In the second season of Darker Than Black, Hei (having lost his companion in the interquel) spends the first half of the season half-drunk and completely disheveled. It's a major Hes Back moment when he finally gets clean clothes and returns to his clean cut look.
  • January 29, 2014
    Bisected8
    The Darker Than Black example sounds more like a Mess Of Woe/Beard Of Sorrow (maybe Heroic BSOD), since he was just not functioning because he was upset, rather than not looking after himself because he was busy.
  • January 29, 2014
    Larkmarn
    Good call. My bad.
  • January 29, 2014
    DAN004
    I preferred the Stressed Eric better... or maybe the RWBY one. :P
  • January 30, 2014
    Bisected8
    Feel free to grab an image of Oobleck (I thought about getting a picture of him, but I got lazy and decided it would be easier to grab an existing picture of Eric than try and get a screenprint of a YT video or something).

    ...it might be worth starting a crowner to pick the image.
  • January 31, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ Is the crowner there? :D
  • February 1, 2014
    Bisected8
    Sorry, TR:DE arrived yesterday and distracted me. Gimme a sec...

    EDIT: HERE WE GO

    I was planning on finding an image of Oobleck later today, but go ahead and add one before then if you have a particular one in mind.

    EDIT 2: And done.
  • February 1, 2014
    Skylite
    • Wander Over Yonder: The titular character suffers stress from being prevented from helping, or from his curiosity being denied. The stress takes the form of his eyes changing color, pupils changing size, his fur getting frizzy and brittle, and patches appearing on his hat. All of which vanish when the source of stress is resolved or removed.
  • February 1, 2014
    HellKillUsAll
    The 100th episode of The Simpsons introduces Principal Skinner with a disheveled appearance having a hectic day in his office,
  • February 2, 2014
    Bisected8
    The image from Community has 3 votes in favour of and none opposed, which is enough for a consensus...however there's only 6 votes in total. Stand up and be counted, tropers! =P

    Also, are the description and title OK, or is there something that needs to be addressed?
  • February 2, 2014
    DAN004
    Pulling one hat until the image issue is resolved.
  • February 2, 2014
    Bisected8
    What issue? There's technically already enough of a consensus, I'm bothered that there haven't been more votes.
  • February 2, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    add this to crowner please.

    Disheveled hair, messy place, he clearly has been working on that model ship he's holding.
  • February 2, 2014
    Bisected8
    Added.

    For future reference; anyone can add entries to a crowner (use the text box at the bottom of the list), though. =P
  • February 4, 2014
    Bisected8
    Also: When this launches, I'll put any of the unused page images with a positive number of votes on an Image Links tab.
  • February 5, 2014
    TheHandle
    I suggest Season 5 Breaking Bad Walter White, contrasted with his Season 3 image.
  • February 5, 2014
    Bisected8
    I'm not familiar with Breaking Bad, do you have a link (and could you elaborate for an example)?
  • February 6, 2014
    Bisected8
    Well, we're up to 15 votes, and the Community image has 3(4^ 1v) votes (with most of the other options trailing with 2(2^ 0v).

    I'd still rather that there were more votes, but it's been a week, so if there hasn't been any significant upheaval by tomorrow, we'll go with that one and move on to the next topic.

    Speaking of which (and I know I keep asking, but) are the title and description OK?
  • February 6, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    Can't say i like the winning image. she still looks damn pretty to me.

    Maybe The Handle's example is better?
  • February 6, 2014
    Bisected8
    Well, that's what people seem to have voted for. And this trope is about tidiness, rather than attractiveness, so how pretty she looks is moot....
  • February 6, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
  • February 6, 2014
    Bisected8
    There's definitely enough untidiness for a contrast.

    TBH, I'd rather the image made it clearer that the character was busy with something (although the classroom environment does get that across adequately), but populus dixit and all that.
  • February 7, 2014
    frosty
    I wonder if we could consult Image Pickin for a YKTTW
  • February 7, 2014
    Bisected8
    I've only ever seen articles sent to IP after they've been launched.

    It seems kind of silly to start an IP thread after a crowner's been up for a week anyway, though....
  • February 7, 2014
    frosty
    Good point.
  • February 7, 2014
    Bisected8
    Well, it's been a full day without any change in the votes, so we'll stick with the Community image.

    Are there any problems with the name and description?
  • February 8, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    the description is good enough. The name is decent. but i wonder if we could have alternatives?

    maybe someone can come up with a cleverer one.

    hmm, Too Busy For Grooming?
  • February 8, 2014
    Bisected8
    Well...it's longer and doesn't have a joke in it.

    TBH if the name's clear, I'd rather not drag it into another discussion.
  • February 8, 2014
    Bisected8
    Well, if nobody thinks the name needs changing, I'll leave this up until Sunday evening (about 24 hours from this post), then launch it with the current title?
  • February 8, 2014
    AgProv
    Late entries:
    • (TV) Hugh Laurie as the unshaven and dishevelled House?
    • (TV) The great detective 'Columbo'', the walking epitome of shabby-efficient;
    • (Literature): the Discworld's unshaven and scruffy cop Samuel Vimes
  • February 8, 2014
    Bisected8
    I added Columbo and Vimes, I don't think House quite fits, since his appearance is more down to his own problems (drug addiction, the pain in his leg that caused it) than being busy. I could be wrong, since I don't watch it, though.
  • February 8, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
  • February 8, 2014
    Bisected8
    "Seriously" can act as an intensifier ("We seriously need to do this.") or just mean "in a manner which is serious" ("We need to take this seriously!").

    Thus Seriously Scruffy could mean "Very scruffy" or "Scruffy because things are serious".
  • February 8, 2014
    DAN004
    So a Just For Pun title? Like Dead Serious?
  • February 8, 2014
    Bisected8
    Exactly (except in this case "serious" is the word providing a double meaning based on the fact it can serve as an intensifier, as "dead" is in Dead Serious).
  • February 9, 2014
    Bisected8
    Well, in a few hours this YKTTW will be wedded to the wiki proper.

    If any among you has reason why these two entities should not be merged, speak now or forever hold your peace!
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=c7ygmcaglydkj99c7oyu202t&trope=SeriouslyScruffy