Created By: bill777 on July 18, 2012 Last Edited By: bill777 on July 19, 2012

Fake underdog

This is a character who tries to appeal to us the same way an under dog would despite what holding them back not being unfair

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Trope
Real under dog characters are held back by in their efforts by unfair things that could “easily” be fixed if the other characters in their story where more caring and/or less close minded. These imposters are people who are failing at something but when you step back and take a more objective view of the situation it’s clear that what’s holding them back is both fair and often their own fault

For example a Fake underdog could be a rock rand who are failing because they sit around smoking dope all day, or a sick child who isn’t been seen to because the doctors have people in much worse conditions to attend to

Presumably the reason we root for Fake underdogs is because they appeal to a human desire to see you’re self or those you care about as unfairly singled every time something bad happens


Examples

Film
  • in Schoolof Rock we’re meant to feel sorry for Dewey Finn (Jack Black) as his career as a musician is failing…. Even though this is obviously his fault for being too over the top and silly on stage


LiveActionTV
  • in one early episode of Law&Order Special Victims Unit Benson fights tooth and nail for a little girl being emotionality abused by her parents to be seen to by the authorities. When the social worker tells her that emotional abuse is hard to prove and that her physical abuse cases are more urgent she's hard to argue with


Community Feedback Replies: 13
  • July 18, 2012
    abk0100
    I guess this would be similar to Strawman Has A Point
  • July 18, 2012
    LordGro
    The way it is written, this is only "the Underdog trope, if the audience doesn't buy it". Not enough substance for a trope.
  • July 18, 2012
    bill777
    @abk0100

    no, not really, it just so happens that second example is that also

    @Lord Gro

    this trope is "the Underdog trope, if the character is'nt really hard done by" and like most tropes it's in effect whether a viewer thinks so or not
  • July 18, 2012
    NimmerStill
    If you mean that the persons circumstances are objectively not unfair to the supposed underdog, then the Law And Order Special Victims Unit example doesn't qualify. Just because other people's circumstances are worse doesn't mean hers are ok.

    I'm not so sure I agree about the School Of Rock example either, because there could in theory be a market for that kind of show. He's just having trouble finding it.

    I also don't think you're quite right about what a "real" underdog is. Rudy is the classic underdog, but there's nothing the other characters could have done to make him succeed.
  • July 18, 2012
    RossN
    I think there might be a Trope here - something like Informed Underdog Status where the hero is supposedly very much in the weaker position compared with the villain but an actual look at their resources shows that not to be true.
  • July 18, 2012
    LordGro
    If the creators of a story present as a character who perceives himself as an "underdog" (and maybe uses that perceived status to make demands on, or fish for sympathy from other characters), but it's obvious to the viewer that this self-assessment is not true and (s)he's actually not treated unfair, then it's a trope.

    However, your first example says "we're meant to feel sorry for Dewey Finn", implying that the creators wanted to make him seem unfairly judged, and that you personally don't react in the way the writers wanted you to.

    I can't actually make out what the second example is saying. Who is hard to argue with, and how is the episode resolved by the writers? But as NimmerStill wrote, it doesn't sound like an example.

    In short, for now it's written as an audience reaction, and whether an audience reaction is "in effect" is always purely subjective.
  • July 18, 2012
    bill777
    @Nimmer Still

    it was fair treatment relative to the other kids

    he wasn't looking for it though, he was just doing his thing where ever?

    I've never seen Rudy so I can't speak to that. I will say however the a true under dog can be at a fair disadvantage because often it's other character's unwillingness to give them a chance that's holding them back rather then that

    @Lord Gro

    "If the creators of a story present as a character who perceives himself as an "underdog" (and maybe uses that perceived status to make demands on, or fish for sympathy from other characters), but it's obvious to the viewer that this self-assessment is not true and (s)he's actually not treated unfair, then it's a trope.

    However, your first example says "we're meant to feel sorry for Dewey Finn", implying that the creators wanted to make him seem unfairly judged, and that you personally don't react in the way the writers wanted you to."

    it's not that I don't react that way, it's that HE WAS'NT EVEN IF THE WRITER THINKS OTHERWISE

    like Strawman Has A Point this trope is present whether the writer intended it to be or not
  • July 18, 2012
    NimmerStill
    ^But it was not fair treatment, or any fault of hers, that led to her abuse. She is abused, and that's bad and not fair, so she's an underdog. The fact that she can't get treatment because it's hard to prove is also not fair. The fact that other kids take priority just shows that the situation with a lot of kids isn't fair. It still doesn't mean she's not being treated unfairly.

    As for Dewey, the movie didn't really have time to go into exactly how he chose his gigs and what research he may or may not have done to see who would like his music. It just shows him putting on a show that he worked hard on and honestly believes is good entertainment, and failing to build a career. That sounds like true underdog status to me.

    I'm not saying there aren't real examples. But I don't think these are them.

    I also think it would be better to focus on cases where the creators agree that the person is not an underdog; only the person presents himself or herself as if they are.
  • July 18, 2012
    Waterlily
    I always felt that way about Winston Egbert from the Sweet Valley High universe. He's written as a goofy, dorky underdog but he gets at least two hot girlfriends (Maria and Denise) who love him.

    I that might happen a lot in fiction. A character in a series is an underdog but then has success. However they are still treated as an underdog.

    I agree that the Law and Order example doesn't fit.
  • July 18, 2012
    LordGro
    @Bill 777: Strawman Has A Point is YMMV. Not objective. Duh. And please, refrain from all caps.
  • July 18, 2012
    Waterlily
    "I also think it would be better to focus on cases where the creators agree that the person is not an underdog; only the person presents himself or herself as if they are."

    I think Salieri from Amadeus is one. He drives himself mad thinking that God hates him because he's not as talented as Mozart, one of the greatest composers of all time. However, he is fairly talented in his own right, is liked and respected by important people such as the emperor of Austria and has a lot of money. The lack of women in his life is by his own choosing.

    I think Wheels from Degrassi High and the reunion movie could qualify too. He constantly whines and bitches about how hard his life is because his parents died. This is admitedly sad but he also has loving grandparents who take him in and supportive friends. However, he shuns their help to wallow in self pity. He even says once about his friend "Everything he had, he got handed to him. Everything I had, I had to work for." We never see any real reason that this is true.
  • July 19, 2012
    bill777
    @Nimmer Still

    the abuse was unfair, the lack of attention was not

    he was a member of a band not looking for that scene and since when do why try and contrive away tropes?

    "I also think it would be better to focus on cases where the creators agree that the person is not an underdog; only the person presents himself or herself as if they are" that's not what this trope is, the audience is suppose to fooled

    @Waterlily

    this isn't when somebody thinks their failing and really aren't, this is when character's failing is not unfair but the situation is treated as if it is

    @Lord Gro

    ok point taken bad example
  • July 19, 2012
    NimmerStill
    ^Making honest mistakes or errors in judgment doesn't disqualify you from being an underdog. That's the issue with School Of Rock. The hypothetical you gave in the description, of a band that just sits around smoking dope, is totally different.
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