The Backbone
A character who tries to make his/her shy friend to be more Assertive
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(permanent link) added: 2011-04-22 22:14:24 sponsor: Damr1990 (last reply: 2012-09-29 18:07:57)

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"Listen, Simon, never forget. Just believe in yourself! Not in the Simon that I believe in, not in the Kamina that you believe in, believe in the Simon... that believes in you!"
You've got to learn to be Assertive Fluttershy, Don't be afraid of speak off

You known when There this person, he/she (let's say a she) is very timid, and doesn't want to call too much atention, she doesn't have many friends, often acts in a clumsy way and Apologises a Lot , she probably has some hidden skills, but she doesn't want to be a showoff, may even be The Chosen One but also has a low image of herself and she let her feelings be hurted without complaining

and when it comes to take a desition or confront some problem , she doesn't respond very well to preasure, may just do as other people tells her to do in order to avoid fights, panics, or just plain is unable to give a straight answer

Then it Comes the Backbone The backbone is a character whose role is precisely to help the Shrinking Violet to come out of the shell, they can have a wide vatiety of personalities: a sarcastic friend who while sarcastic, will always give her the best suggestion, a stoic person, blunt and too direct in his/her speaking, who, while can hurt her feelings from time to time, will alwyas tell her the honest truth, and also will not have any problem pointing the defects of those who mess with her friend, makit it Imnune to The Libby's atacks , a member of the popular group people, who somehow is friend of the Shrinking violet and thinks she needs to be more social, a older student/proffesor who sees the potentian of the shrinking violet and wants them to develop it to it's fullest, and even a bully who somehow befriended the Shrinking Violet and doesn't want other people to mess with her, acting as her bodygyard

the backbone has a more outgoing person thatn the violet, and how they ended being friends varies, maybe the were childhood friends, who despite the fact they growed up in diferent ways, never stoped being friends, perhaps the shrinking violet helped the backbone in a hard situation the past and now they try to return the favor or even is possible the backbone was similar to the violet in the past and wants him/her to come out of the shell so he/she can have a better life. In the end, it's not how they became friends, but the fact that this character will help the violet no matter what, always showing a strong sensce of loyalty to his/her friend.

it must be noted that most of the time, the backbone doesn't have any personal motives to want the violet to come out, he/she does't win anything for this, except maybe the satisfaction to know they helped a friend, hoewever, if the Karma dictates he/she must win something,hey! thats a plus! but it must be winned out of generosity, not as a wanted reward, however cases when someone did wanted something to but ended up genuinely worryng for her also count

However, the role of this character will not to be "the sword" of the shrinking violet, THE BACKBONE WILL NOT FIGHTS THE VIOLET'S FIGHTS, while them will stand up from his/her friend if needed (and in fact, if they are the violent kind and/or they have little time being friends, the bakcbone may acually start as a sword), the main concern of the backbone will be that the violet can develop some guts of their own, so they can deffend by themselves, however, if things get bad and the violet needs a somewhere to cry they always will be ther to cheer them up and motivate them to try again

It also must be noted, that while they want the violet to come out of the shell, THEY DON'T FORCE THE VIOLET TO CHANGE , while depending on the type of character has this role, the more agresive types may try to make him/her confront the situation directly, while the tamer characters will try to conveince her with a talk first, but in most cases the backbone will know how much they can pressure they can apply without breaking the violet and will stop when if they have to, and even in the case they have to take a more firm position when it takes to conveince the violet, they will always do it with the best intention, and maybe apologize after that

however, this doesn't mean they are just there to make their egos grow, they want them to become a secure, they don't whant them bo become the kind of person that the violets were afraid in the first place, if by any chances the violet changes their character and turns into a pretentios person, gets in the wrong group, or just changes for worse , expect the backbone to confront them and remind them their mistakes and limitations, and try to return them into the right way again

If Done correctly, it helps as a great tool for the character development of the violet, it can show a contrast from both characters and how their relationship changes as the violet becomes more secure, and depending of the type of character it may also show how this character has aquired some of the good things of the violet (for example, at the beginning the backbone was a jerk, but after being the violet's friend they become more considerate on their own), done badly it could become a character whose entire life revolves around the violet and no traits on their own or even made the violet seem as an useless character who always needs to be helped by the backbone

In Resume, the backbone is:
  • A extroverted person who is friend of a Shrinking violet
  • It's really loyal to his/her friend
  • they don't want to resolve all the problems the violet has
  • rather their main interest is that the violet can do it him/herself
  • doesn't have any personal benefict from the violet's growth (at least not one that they want, if they get any reward it will be as a side effect, not as a intended goal from the begginging)
  • don't force the violet's to change, but try to make him/her to confront their problems and become more assertive
  • wants the violet to still being good, if they made a mistake or made a wrong turn, they'll be ther to correct them and put them back on the right way

Compare/contrast with The Lancer, The Chick(is not uncommon for them to take this role, specially if they are the team's mom), The heart(shares many of their atributes), Students with Sempai/Kohai mechaninc can work this way, Stealth Mentor, Big Brother Complex (they both are very similar, and want their protegés to improve, eventhough they don't show it directly), both the Mysterious Protector and the Stealth Mentor share the "not so direct /let them do it for themselves" approach, Poisonous Friend(when they decide to become "the Sword" of the violet and do the fight for them... even if it has to be a dirty fight), Living Emotional Crutch For when the protected becomes too dependant of the backbone ,Yandere(when they become too obsesed or jealous with the character they want to protect),the corrupter(when this character actually incites them to turn to the Dark Side), both a Handsome Lech, a Bastard Boyfriend and a Manipulative Bastard may claim to be this, but they are probably using the violet to their own benefit

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Urd is constantly trying this for Keichi in Ah! My Goddess.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Kamina tries to get Simon to be more confident.
    • Also This is a very interesting example, Because Both Simon and Kamina are Both The Backbone and the Emontional Crutch of each other at the same time, Simon is competent, but too timid live up to it. Kamina, meanwhile, knows how to inspire confidence, but can't do much by himself other than boast. For these reasons both believe they need the other to go on. Simon's Ability to Get the job done inspire kamina, who in change, gives simon the confidence to continue through his speeches
    "Kamina: Hey, don't you remember you were the method to my madness? The one who made my big talk more than words? "
    • he is also conscious of Simon's low self-stern but gladly will share part of his confidence with him, this is easily showed through his initial speech to him
    "Listen up, Simon. Don't believe in yourself. Believe in me! Believe in me, who believes in you!"

  • However before Kamina dies he realizes the Unfortunate Implications of the above line, as it makes Simon too dependant on him, and changes it to fit better the attitude he wanted from simmon in the first place, to be more self-confidant:
"Listen, Simon, never forget. Just believe in yourself! Not in the Simon that I believe in, not in the Kamina that you believe in, believe in the Simon... that believes in you!"

Film

Literature
  • Shakespeare example: Shallow is his nephew Slender's backbone in The Merry Wives of Windsor.

Live Action-TV
  • Gilligan's Island: a Plain Jane named Eva Grubb gets stranded on the island. Ginger gives her a makeover and it turns out she looks just like Ginger. Grubb manages to steal a powerboat and leaves a note saying she's going to Hollywood to take over Ginger's career.
  • The Brady Bunch: Marcia takes a shy girl named Molly who has been mockingly nomiated for "Banquet Night Hostess" under her wing and gives her a makeover & self confidence. Marcia then finds out the she has been nominated as the other candidate - but she already gave Molly all her best notes for the debate speech, and everybody thinks Molly is so much cooler now. In the end Molly wins, but realizes that without Marcia's help she wouldn't've won so she proposes that they be "co-hostesses."
  • Jon Snow is this to Samwell Tarly in Game of Thrones.

Web Original
  • Homestuck. Vriska claims that she's trying to make Tavros tougher and more assertive. Considering that Vriska believes in the effects of ancestry and she knows that Tavros's ancestor was a great leader (and her own ancestor's one true love), it's likely that she really is trying to help Tavros on some level. However, her methods are outright abusive and tend to hurt his confidence more than they help. Eventually, Tavros fails to be assertive at one crucial moment, and Vriska gives up on him.

Western Animation

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