Created By: Wheezy on May 2, 2010 Last Edited By: Wheezy on May 3, 2010
Troped

Broken Ace

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Tall, charming, and strikingly good looking - well-spoken in 5 different languages, and classically trained in even more instruments. Big Man on Campus, former president of the Absurdly Powerful Student Council, valedictorian, and working on their doctorate in a scientific field that most peons out there can't even pronounce. Always wears a suit, until the eventual Shirtless Scene during their (strenuous, of course) excersise routine, that is. They have a lovely smile.

However, inside, they're an ugly, writhing pile of Mommy Issues and self-hatred.

This guy takes two forms:
  1. The one who happens to be great at everything, and is loved and respected by the people around him - but he's using his charm and talents to disguise his true nature. Basically, a Villain with Good Publicity who lives their lie every day.
  2. The guy who tried so hard to be great at everything that he eventually suceeded... But broke himself in the process.

Expect them to have at least one bizarre trait that should not be overlooked, as well as a completely unhealthy attitude about love, life, and humanity in general. They most likely don't have anyone that loves or respects them for what they really are - this may be justified.

In the most cynical works on the sliding scale, they'll be a serial killer, or at least a future one.

This character is usually male, but not always. Also, they're not always evil - maybe just a well-hidden Jerk Ass.

Examples

Anime & Manga

Literature / Film

Comics

Western Animation

  • Rotorstorm from Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers is one of these - I put him as an example of "Stepford Smiler" on that page, feeling it was the closest trope to his character type. This would fit much better.
Community Feedback Replies: 37
  • January 31, 2010
    animeg3282
    They are Stepford Smiler
  • January 31, 2010
    Wheezy
    Edit: Never mind.
  • January 31, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    I get why the narrator of Fight Club is sometimes called Jack, but out of curiosity, where did Joe come from?
  • January 31, 2010
    Wheezy
    In the book, he calls himself Joe.
  • February 1, 2010
    MartineBrooke
    I agree we need this need this trope. Related to Stepford Smiler but, instead of being though as doormat/purity/stay-at-home-and-be-happy/almost always female, we have The Ace who is putting it on. Can't think of examples yet.
  • February 1, 2010
    MartineBrooke
    Ooh, Ozymandias from Watchmen.
  • February 1, 2010
    Idler2.0
    The whole point of the poem "Richard Cory" by Edwin Arlington Robinson.
  • February 16, 2010
    Wheezy
  • February 16, 2010
    Chabal2
    I dunno about Light... Sure, he has a massive god complex, but he wouldn't have it had he not gotten the Death Note in the first place.

  • February 17, 2010
    BlackDragon
    I'd say Light is an example regardless. Yes, we know that without the Death Note fueling his complex, he would've been an okay dude - but that's irrelevant. He DID find it, and he DID turn into a mass-murderer, and he DID take advantage of his power over women at least twice...
  • February 17, 2010
    JackButler
    Patrick Bateman from American Psycho
  • February 28, 2010
    Earnest
    Just to see if I'm getting the difference between this guy and the Stepford Smiler right. The SS wants to appear normal at all costs, or even perfectly normal and exemplary, often to the point of hurting themselves emotionally (or because they're sociopathic). This guy has the same set up as the SS, but is more talented and wants to be the best, loved by all, and accepted. Except their inhabilitating personal issues which they're hiding are only getting worse because of being repressed and the stress of their efforts to excel.

    If I haven't mistaken this, then I think it's a valid subtrope.

    • Apt Pupil has an A student get fascinated with the local hidden Nazi's old war stories. This eventually causes him (and the Nazi) to snap.
  • March 23, 2010
    Wheezy
    Earnest, your explanation is just one reason for this.

    Sometimes, as is Ozymandias and Johan Leibert's case, they're just plain crazy, psychopathic, or evil at heart, and use their success and charm to hide their true nature.

    Or, sometimes people who have everything - looks, money, power, women, etc. - just get bored with it all and start messing around with hedonism, sociopathic behaviors, and general dickery for the lulz. This happens in Real Life quite often.
  • March 23, 2010
    JurassicMosquito
    Wait, this sort of seems like an Anti-Villain to me.
  • March 23, 2010
    solfieri
    But it can be applied to heroic characters, like Yukino, so it's not just a villain thing. They just have to be "awesome" in typical Ace fashion, but not as much beneath the surface. I know I've Seen It A Million Times, but I can't remember any right now...
  • March 23, 2010
    TheEvilDr.Bolty
    Rotorstorm from Transformers Last Stand Of The Wreckers is one of these - I put him as an example of "Stepford Smiler" on that page, feeling it was the closest trope to his character type. This would fit much better.
  • May 2, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Die Another Day villain Gustav Graves is charming, talented, and insanely rich (from blood diamonds). However, he is really a North Korean with plastic surgery building a Kill Sat to help his faction finally win the war. He has daddy issues too, and really really hates anything Western.
  • May 2, 2010
    Jordan
    Maxim from the first Night Watch novel is good-looking, fairly intelligent, and a very successful businessman, and he looks down at the less successful. While some of his murdering of Dark Others isn't his fault (he had Detect Evil ability and wasn't in on The Masquerade), it's noted that he has no real comprehension of love- pretty much, when given a choice between punishing evil and doing good, he chose the former.
  • May 3, 2010
    MeganPhntmGrl
    Re: Ozymandias: I think this only applies to the movie version, who shows approximately three times the guilt, self-loathing and painful isolation of his comic book counterpart. Comic!Ozy is a smug bastard who shows only a brief moment of possible doubt. Movie!Ozy says he "often [feels] stupid at being unable to relate to anybody" and spends his last few minutes of screentime in some kind of anti-heroic BSOD, staring into space and looking about ready to fall over as the camera zooms out on him.

    (@Wheezy: Seeing Ozymandias and Johan Liebert in the same sentence makes me glee; I have a WMG that they're father and son.)

    • Tybalt in Gerard Presgurvic's musical version of Romeo And Juliet, especially in the Hungarian production (where he's self-loathing and epileptic).
    • Glinda by Act II of Wicked.
  • May 3, 2010
    MeganPhntmGrl
    • Graf von Krolock from Tanz Der Vampire. Suave, unflappable vampire, seducer of the young and beautiful, dominating and powerful... and then, come The Eleven O Clock Number, we see him practically writhing in the dirt of the castle graveyard as he castigates himself for being driven to destroy what he loves and never rising to the true pinnacle he always wanted to achieve.
    • Jareth in the novelization of Labyrinth is revealed to be one of these, and is particularly sensitive to his own aging.

  • May 3, 2010
    MeganPhntmGrl
    • There's a definite trend of portraying Superman as this in popular music, too (Coldplay's "Superman", Three Doors Down's "Kryptonite").
    • The abovementioned "Richard Cory" example was expanded on in a song of the same title by Simon and Garfunkel, contrasting Cory's facade of happiness with the poverty of one of his envious employees. The song ends the same as the poem. The narrator still envies him.
    • Jay Gatsby, anyone?
    • Batman's civilian persona, Bruce Wayne, definitely falls into this.
  • May 3, 2010
    MeganPhntmGrl
    • Princess Azula from Avatar The Last Airbender, though she doesn't really bother with the good publicity part of Villain With Good Publicity, still sort of fits. She's a beautiful, extraordinarily talented young woman, even if she is Daddy's Little Villain, but most of her exterior aloofness and obsession with power stems from being desperate to ignore how utterly psychotic she is thanks to her delusion that her mother hated her. Same inside, same overcompensation, different shell.
    • Freddie Trumper in Chess, though his ace reputation is also notoriously short-tempered and cocky. Still, he drove himself to be a chess champion due to his rather hellish childhood, and doesn't want anyone seeing his weakness. The audience only finds out during "Pity the Child".
      • Anatoly Sergeievski counts too, if the lyrics of "Where I Want To Be" are any indication. Figures that in a show where the two female leads are broken birds, the men would be broken aces.
  • May 3, 2010
    MeganPhntmGrl
    • Anakin Skywalker circa the latter two Star Wars prequels.
  • May 3, 2010
    MeganPhntmGrl
    BTW, this picture of Ozymandias would actually make an excellent trope page illustration.
  • May 3, 2010
    MartineBrooke
    Second the above picture.
  • May 3, 2010
    MeganPhntmGrl
    Bump so OP can find this easily.
  • May 3, 2010
    MeganPhntmGrl
    • Prince Charming in the Shrek movies is a parody of this type that acts like and actually thinks he is a standard heroic Ace, but really is a vain, juvenile Mama's boy once you scratch the surface.
  • May 3, 2010
    MeganPhntmGrl
  • May 3, 2010
    MeganPhntmGrl
    • Ultimate heroic example, without even a trace of Jerkass: Jesus Christ himself in Jesus Christ Superstar is deeply conflicted by his own messiah role and increasingly uncomfortable with his followers and fanbase, particularly because he doubts that anything he's done will even make an impact.
  • May 3, 2010
    Useful
    Hate to say this, but to a certain extent, we already have this, or at least the first version. It is called a Byronic Hero: good at everything including social pursuits but actually is self-hating and self-destructive. You could revise this to be just the second one, but a lot of it is going to need to be revised.
  • May 3, 2010
    MeganPhntmGrl
    @Useful: The difference here is that the Byronic Hero is openly perceived as hugely flawed. The Broken Ace puts up a huge front that makes him look infalliable and utterly perfect.
  • May 3, 2010
    MeganPhntmGrl
    bump!

    (Yeah, way too fond of this character type.)
  • May 3, 2010
    MeganPhntmGrl
  • May 3, 2010
    MeganPhntmGrl
    Would Crowley from Good Omens count? He's a Noble Demon, with a confident, attractive facade and a quick wit. He has a relentlessly stylish apartment full of fancy gadgets, he always seems to have the best of everything, and drives the coolest of Cool Cars. However, in spite of the book's ensemble cast, he stands out as pretty much the main viewpoint character, whose thoughts we hear the most, and behind the painfully cool exterior he's frightened, weary, and eventually very angry, which causes him to rebel against both Heaven and Hell. He's definitely not the slick bastard he appears to be on the outside, but unlike a lot of these characters it ends up making him stronger and extremely sympathetic.
  • May 3, 2010
    MeganPhntmGrl
    Also from the Batman universe, in its various incarnations:
    • Harvey Dent is often portrayed this way before he becomes Two-Face, particularly in the animated series. This is heavily and tragically averted in The Dark Knight, where Dent is a genuine, what-you-see-is-what-you-get crusading idealist until the Joker decides to have a little fun with him...

  • May 3, 2010
    MeganPhntmGrl
    Okay, seriously, you guys, is this just launchable now? There were already plenty of examples here, and then I dug up a load more. I think we're good to go.
  • May 3, 2010
    MeganPhntmGrl
    • Andrea Cavalcanti/Benedetto in Gankutsuou, an effortlessly charming fop who happens to also be a wild-eyed rapist with daddy issues.
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