Created By: KJMackley on September 17, 2011 Last Edited By: KJMackley on October 12, 2011

Here For A Reason

At some point their purpose will be revealed

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"When you first came to us, we thought people would come and take you away because, when they found out, you know, the things you could do... and that worried us a lot. But then a man gets older, and he starts thinking differently and things get very clear. And one thing I do know, son, and that is you are here for a reason. I don't know whose reason, or whatever the reason is... Maybe it's because... uh... I don't know. But I do know one thing. It's not to score touchdowns, huh?"
Jonathan Kent- Superman: The Movie

Some characters get The Call, others are Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life. But there are instances where a character is stagnant in their progression, they aren't doing anything of value or contributing to society. In the same way they might not be contributing to the story at all, and you may wonder why they are around to begin with.

Well, they are likely here for a reason nonetheless. If the story is bothering to include them at some point they will demonstrate why they are a part of the narrative. They may even be The Load or a Distressed Damsel for the good deal of the time, but in the end they will have something to contribute.

The key to this trope is where a question is posed on why a person is there (either within the story or by the audience) and the response comes later with a triumphant answer.

  • In Superman teenaged Clark is talking with his adoptive father about the fantastic abilities he has and is actively wondering why he can't stretch out his legs and show everyone, as he would easily dominate in a football game. Jonathan replied that Clark had a greater purpose than scoring touchdowns, even though he wasn't sure what it is yet...
  • Wheelie and Brains in Transformers: Dark of the Moon are basically two comic-relief Cybertronians who are hanging around Sam as political refugees, too small to be of any real threat to anyone unlike the larger robots. They stick around for most of the movie and while they don't get in the way they aren't really contributing to the battle. Until the climax, where they managed to get inside the Decepticon mothership and acted as gremlins from the inside, managing to take the ship down and providing a distraction to let the Autobots get the upper hand and allowing the military to send some support.
  • Gollum in The Lord of the Rings was a pitiable character who was corrupted by the ring and whose presense caused significant problems for the main heroes. When it was suggested they kill him and continue on their way, Gandalf expressly stated that he felt Gollum would play a vital role in the coming conflict. As Frodo and Sam approach Mt. Doom, Frodo became corrupted by the ring and refused to destroy it. Gollum was so determined to recover the ring he attacked Frodo, with Gollum and the ring falling into the lava and both were destroyed. Being protective of the ring was a trait of anyone who held it, so without Gollum there to fight over it the ring would not have been destroyed in such a timely manner.
Community Feedback Replies: 12
  • September 17, 2011
    Basically Chekhovs Gun as a character
  • September 17, 2011
    Basically, yeah. But it's a slightly bigger idea and I didn't want to snowclone it. Plus I'm still working on how to improve the description, as it doesn't necessarily have to be about supposedly worthless characters as the Superman example shows.

    Another example would be Green Arrow from Justice League, who actively wondered why Batman was so adament he join the league even when he didn't want to be a part of it. Batman's response was that they needed someone who would be willing to argue against any iron-fisted decisions the League might make, keeping them honest. After a series of events Superman was about to disband the league and Green Arrow was the first to step up and demand they stay together, fulfilling his purpose as Batman anticipated.
  • September 17, 2011
    Deconstructed in the most nasty way by the Angtoria song God Has A Plan For Us All.
  • September 17, 2011
    Isn't this really similar to Chekhovs Gunman?
  • October 10, 2011
    Again, yeah. Chekhovs Gunman is a character who shows up briefly and then disappears for a time, only to show up later with some importance. This is broader in scope, where every character should be there for a narrative purpose and anyone who begs the question "Why are they there?" falls under this trope.
  • October 10, 2011
    Third Rock From The Sun: For a while nobody is sure why Harry is on the mission, including Harry. Then the discover that he's got a brain implant that receives messages from the Big Giant Head - basically, he's their radio.
  • October 10, 2011
    Checkov's Son?
  • October 10, 2011
    A Chekhovs Gunman doesn't have to "disappear", they just have to appear unimportant when first introduced. Take Eric The Viking, where one of the minor crewmates is a Christian. He's mostly Plucky Comic Relief, but he's ultimately the one who saves them all from being trapped in Valhalla by the Norse gods because he's unable to perceive the Viking afterlife. He was with the cast every step of the way, but he's still a Chekhovs Gunman.
  • October 10, 2011
    Kaho Mizuki from Card Captor Sakura shows up unexpectedly and quickly makes an enemy of a suspicious Xiaolang Li. Kaho reassures him using this trope, and it turns out her role is to assist Sakura during the final test toward the end of Volume 6.
  • October 10, 2011
    All Chekhovs Gun tropes follow the pattern that "Something is introduced or seen only to be forgotten by the narrative until it becomes important." If the character is hanging out with the characters and has regular screen time, even as the Plucky Comic Relief, then they don't count as the gunman. On the other hand, if they clearly have some importance when introduced (maybe giving the heroes some supplies) and return later then that wouldn't be Here For A Reason as they already fill an important role, while it would be the gunman.

    In the Harry Potter series, Neville Longbottom plays this role in several instances, most notably in the first and last stories. In the first, his actions are what allows Gryffindor to win the yearly house competition. In the last, he ends up using the Sword of Gryffindor to destroy the last Horcrux, defeating Voldemort.
  • October 11, 2011
    "if they clearly have some importance when introduced..." is not a requirement of a Chekhovs Gunman to begin with, in fact it's almost a violation of the term.

    The definition of a Chekhovs Gun (and all Sub Tropes that follow) is that it is introduced despite having no apparent importance at the time. You don't need a gigantic neon sign pointing to that gun on the wall saying "USE IN CASE OF EMERGENCIES", all you have to do is tell the reader that "there's a gun on the wall" and leave it at that.
  • October 12, 2011
    Conservation Of Detail applied to characters?