"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?"
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.