Created By: PTTGx2 on April 8, 2012

Stagehand Slave Labor

Following a cut, the heroes "complete" a task obviously done by non-actors

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The hero says, "Well, let's set up camp here for the night." A quick scene change later, and we see him ineffectually hammering one last tent-spike into the ground, finishing up what is an otherwise fully constructed tent, complete with roaring campfire, a cord of firewood, a crude fence, and all this in a level clearing that did not exist before.

Yet the hero shows no signs of fatigue- he obviously had a little help. As in, it was built like any other set and he's walked up and taken credit for it with his little tent-spike driving hammer.

This is distinct from tropes about scenery since it can apply to anything where the results of the character's physical labors are clearly not his own- a cool sword the hero just forged, or some other physical prop, is just as valid. What makes this trope is the fact that although we are given signs to accept the work as the character's own, we only see them at work in the very final stages, if at all.
Community Feedback Replies: 10
  • April 8, 2012
    IE: Cases where it wasn't worth doing a whole montage of its construction.
  • April 9, 2012
    ^ Which, if it was shown, would be a Hard Work Montage.
  • April 9, 2012
    Maybe it could be named something like Just Finished, because it seems like the final moment of the task (showing off the sword, hammering in the tent peg, taking a cake out of the oven and smelling it) is the most important part?

    It's not like it's a bad idea, I just feel like maybe misleading to focus on the fact that the crew did the task "for" the characters. For one thing, I don't think the term "stagehand" is used outside of the theatre and also that seems to discount animated shows where, obviously, you just draw the stuff you need. Also, the idea of anyone "taking credit" for this stuff is confusing, because the character isn't taking credit (within the world of the story, they did do the work) and the actor isn't taking credit for anything (the set designer, runner, researcher, etc will all be paid and get their names in the credits. Even if you don't watch the credits, you don't really believe the actor does the stuff their character does).

    Sorry if all that is a bit mean or just confusing, I guess it's just that saying "actors are not characters" is a bit People Sit On Chairs and fuzzes the lines between the story and the production of the story. BUT, like, there could still be a trope about people having finished doing something and not being tired at all? That's recognisable and even has a few particularly egregious examples, like if someone's "finished" digging a hole?
  • April 9, 2012
    A rugged knight errant isn't going to look as tired after setting up camp as a desk jockey on vacation. When you take that away, all that's left is the last step standing in for the whole, which isn't really splittable from the broader concept of synecdoche.
  • April 9, 2012
    I'm cool with the "final touches" version of this.

    If you need to distinguish this from the broader concept of synecdoche, it's specifically representing a whole task with the final completion of that task. There are non-task things that this couldn't apply to but would still be synecdoches. That it's a synecdoche means it fits the traditional definition of "trope" and that makes me very happy, so I'm reluctant to be too stringent about lumping.
  • April 9, 2012
    Maybe it could be called Final Touches or Finished Product?

    Oh! Or Heres One I Made Earlier, after cookery programs and children's shows like Blue Peter that always have premade versions of the thing they're making?
  • April 9, 2012
    ^We've already got One I Prepared Earlier for shows using that very trope, it'd be confusing (which is one reason In Medias Res was renamed from One We Prepared Earlier). Plus the "no new trope names that sound like dialog" rule.

    Averted on The Brady Bunch. The producers felt strongly that any prop which was supposed to look like a kid made it, the kid in question had to make it.
  • April 10, 2012
    I second Final Touches. It's a significant subtrope of In Medias Res.
  • April 10, 2012
    Lampshaded in Grailblasers by Tom Holt: all heros ar followed around by a dwarf who does all the work, and follows them around in a little jeep.
  • April 11, 2012
    In an episode of Season Five of The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon is working on building his Lego Death Star. Every time Leonard and Sheldon's living room is shown, Sheldon is either building the model or it is shown sitting on the table, more completed than the previous time it was shown. Chuck Lorre's Vanity Card at the end thanks the crew for building it.