Created By: KingZeal on April 12, 2012 Last Edited By: KingZeal on December 24, 2013

Reputation Suspends Disbelief

Suspension of Disbelief because of reputation alone.

Name Space:
Page Type:
(Batman smirks starts drawing breath)
Superman: No, never mind, I already know what you're gonna s--
Batman: Because I'm Batman!
Superman: *sigh* I walked right into that one.
Batman: Yes, you did.

This trope describes a narrative event in which a character does something thought improbable, impossible, or suicidal by others and no explanation is offered as to how it happened.

If the character is sufficiently Badass, who they are is all that we need. How did he survive being shot by a minigun? How did she defeat those 1000 Mooks in that Offscreen Moment of Awesome? How did they get through that radiation-bathed deathtrap when there was clearly no way out?

Didn't we already say they were Badass? Why is this even a question?

This is a subtrope of the Rule of Cool and Law of Conservation of Detail. When well-executed, this trope becomes a self-perpetuating plot engine: a character is badass because they do the impossible, thus they do the impossible because they're badass. A failed attempt, however, will shatter the audience's Suspension of Disbelief.

Sister Trope to Memetic Badass, although the latter is more closely tied to fan reaction. Related to Batman Can Breathe in Space, because...well...He's Batman.

Compare Popularity Power.

This is NOT a character trope. Do not list characters this trope applies to. Examples must be invoked or lampshaded.


  • Batman wouldn't be a Memetic Badass without this trope. Regardless of how outlandish his accomplishment is, "I'm Batman" is all the reason you need for it. This is the reason he can get away with being both a billionaire playboy and successfully fund his crime-fighting career. Pointing it out is pointless, because being Batman is all the explanation you're getting.
  • Superman as well, especially when it comes to always doing the right thing. Where did he get the ability to pull it off? He's Superman. How did he even know what "the right thing" to do was? Didn't we just tell you he's Superman? People count on Superman to save the day, and that's what he'll do.

  • In Pirates of the Caribbean, Jack Sparrow justifies a lot of his more insane accomplishments this way, especially his escape from the island of Tortuga.
    "You forgot one very important thing, mate. I'm Captain Jack Sparrow!"

  • Chuck Norris facts run on this logic. Many of the jokes are tautological; i.e., Chuck Norris is Badass because Chuck Norris.


Live-Action TV
  • The Master in Doctor Who, "The Mark of the Rani" has this to say about his Unexplained Recovery:
    "I'm indestructible. The whole universe knows that."

Web Comics
  • Sparks in Girl Genius are accustomed to surviving impossible situations because of their mad science, but Othar Tryggvassen, Gentleman Adventurer, can get out of any scrape on badassery alone. He's been dropped out of airships, into deathtraps, and subjected to unspeakable experiments, and he's always fine a few panels later. And if he attaches himself to someone, there's no getting away. Most characters have stopped asking how he does it.
  • Shortpacked! provides the Trope Namer for Batman Can Breathe in Space:
    "I'm Batman! And I can breathe in space!"

Web Original
  • Constantly parodied in How It Should Have Ended.
    • Shown in the page quote, an example of their segments with Batman.
    • Also, occasionally with Superman.
    Batman: "So you actually...saved all of them!"
    Superman: "Well, yeah. I mean that's what I do. Save the day."

Web Video
Community Feedback Replies: 26
  • April 12, 2012
    Kamina? Repairs giant robot by just being badass?
  • April 12, 2012
    ^ F**k yes. Although we'll have to write it like a scene rather than being about the character in general.
  • April 12, 2012
    Comment Deleted
  • April 12, 2012
    I don't know that Kamina's an actual example, but I've seen this all over the place.
  • April 19, 2012
    See also Impossible Task Instantly Accomplished, when the character succeeds because they're just that smart.

    Sorry I still haven't thought of any examples.
  • April 20, 2012
    The bit in Pirates Of The Caribbean where Captain Jack talks about being marooned and making his way off the island. Worshipful members of his crew believe he escaped by lashing sea turtles together and using them as a raft.

    Maybe it needs a name without "Badass" in the title though. Reputation Suspends Belief or something. Legendary Reputation?
  • April 20, 2012
    Legendary Reputation is not really what this trope is about.

    What you've got there seems more like Shrouded In Myth.
  • April 20, 2012
    There also tends to be an element of Noodle Incident involved. We know the badass survived, but we're not told how and no one is very surprised that he did.
  • April 20, 2012
    The Noodle Incident aspect seems to be a big part of it. Far more so that the badass part.

    How did he succeed? Because he's successful. But that's circular! Yes, that's the point.
  • April 21, 2012
    Reputation Suspends Disbelief does sound like a more appropriate title.
  • May 24, 2012
    Come on guys! Needs More Examples!
  • May 24, 2012
    Related to Pure Awesomeness.

    • Relevant to the Pirates Of The Caribbean example, above: "You forgot one very important thing, mate: I'm Captain Jack Sparrow."

    Would these count?
    • In Indiana Jones And The Kingdom OF The Crystal Skull. The baddies chase our hero into a military base where an atomic bomb is about to be tested. The audience is never in doubt as to whether or not he survives, it's just a question of how.
    • Chuck Norris jokes. For example: "If at first you don't succeed, you're not Chuck Norris."
  • June 12, 2012
    • Sparks in Girl Genius are accustomed to surviving impossible situations because of their mad science, but Othar Tryggvassen, Gentleman Adventurer, can get out of any scrape on badassery alone. He's been dropped out of airships, into deathtraps, and subjected to unspeakable experiments, and he's always fine a few panels later. And if he attaches himself to someone, there's no getting away. Most characters have stopped asking how he does it.
  • July 23, 2012
  • July 23, 2012
    In the second and fourth series of Blackadder Lord Flash-hart (help me spell this?) manages to charm everyone and win them over, despite talking about nothing but how amazing he is the whole time.
  • July 23, 2012
    ^ It's either "Flasheart" or "Flashheart" -- it's spelled differently from series to series.
  • July 24, 2012
    In an Abridged Series of Gundam Wing, Hiro gets asked fridge logic questions of how he does things, and he just says "Because I'm awesome".
  • July 24, 2012
  • August 25, 2013
  • August 27, 2013
  • August 27, 2013
    Not sure I like the title referencing "suspension of disbelief" because SOD is about the audience, not in-universe.
  • December 24, 2013
    Much, much work is still needed. See also The Ace.

    "A character defies Suspension of Disbelief constantly because of reputation alone." should be "A character provides Suspension of Disbelief constantly because of reputation alone."

    Tortuga (from Pirates of the Caribbean) is the name of the island of pirates and who—- women. Jack escaped from a deserted isle.

    "Chuck Norris facts run on this logic" is a Zero Context Example.

    Most of the current examples seem to be a fandom reaction rather than an in-universe lack of explaination.
  • December 24, 2013
    "Most" seems a bit hyperbolic. The only three that really fit that description: Batman, Superman and Chuck Norris. I'll try to fix what I can.
  • December 24, 2013
    All of the web examples (except Girl Genius) are fan-made works. That's five. Add the comic books and Chuck Norris, and that's 8 of 11 examples that are fandom reactions to the original works.

    Because of that, examples like Ciaphas Cain look like a fandom opinion rather than an In-Universe example.

    Maybe focusing on the Noodle Incident aspect more? "He did X, Y, and Z. None of which should have been possible, which has added to his mystique, instead of breaking the audience suspension of disbelief."

    Maybe. It's late. I'm maybe too tired to be sensible.
  • December 24, 2013
    That's not fair. Fan works are works, not just fan reactions. They are works in themselves.

    And I've changed the comic book examples as best I can at the moment. Those two characters are essentially the epitome of Seen It A Million Times, whereas it's hard for me to even pin down one example of it because I've seen it so much in those works that it starts bleeding together after a while. I did what I could to expound on the reputation in-universe for lack of specific examples.
  • December 24, 2013
    Dunno if this counts but -
    • In Oz The Great And Powerful, Oz did this several times, claiming everything great will come from him 'cuz he's "the great and powerful wizard". Not just that, he gives this mantra:
      "With belief, nothing is impossible."

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable