Created By: Astromatech on May 20, 2012 Last Edited By: BibsDibs on June 13, 2013

A New Character For A New Era

A character is introduced to a work, has a highly different theme to any character in that work

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So you have a franchise, and it’s going, shall we say, slightly downhill. In an effort to spice things up, you add extra details to the character models, shift around certain priorities, and add another character to help cement these changes. If done well, this can breathe new life into a much ailing work of fiction. If done poorly, this can lead to The Scrappy. Either way, you are introducing A New Character For A New Era.

Symptoms of A New Character For A New Era include:

  • using methods or techniques that other characters wouldn’t, wouldn’t need to, or wouldn’t even dream of. IE; weapons, unusual transport, superpowers, etc.
  • possible overlap with Mary Sue or God-Mode Sue.
  • Sometimes but not always being created in a period of the franchise’s history when sales (and respect) are low.
  • Will often have a backstory added later or subtly, to either excuse or explain how they are. Other times, may be retconned (or Ret-Gone’d) entirely.

A character that fits this trope could be seen as an embodiment (or instigator) of Tone Shift, but not necessarily in the same way as the similar Knight of Cerebus.

Note that whilst the name implies a grim attitude, an overly flowery character in a particularly Grim Dark setting would definitely count as well. Also, remember that Tropes Are Not Bad. It is entirely possible for a character to embody this trope whilst also adding further depth and character to the world.

As a further addendum, this is a trope ONLY for characters native to the series, or at least characters that are an integral part of that series. Guest Fighter characters need not apply.

Compare and contrast Knight of Cerebus, The Scrappy, The Wesley, and Characterisation Marches On.

Examples: Anime and Manga:
  • In Dragonball, Dragonball Z and Dragonball GT, there are several characters that could be considered to have the syndrome, but only GT would most likely qualify, as (to this troper’s knowledge), the series was still going strong during the original run and Dragonball Z.
    • One example from GT would possibly even be Goku himself, under the effects of the Super Saiyan 4 transformation. He becomes, to some fans, increasingly brutal and callous throughout. YMMV, of course.

Video Games:
  • Shadow the Hedgehog, when he was introduced, was intended to be a one-shot character (hence his apparent death at the end of the first game to feature him). Since then, he has gone on to utilise realistic firearms, vehicles, and to push the boundaries of the series in new ways. Most fans will agree that he is a successful utilisation of this trope, and is indeed the source for the original name of the trope.

Western Animation:

Community Feedback Replies: 23
  • May 20, 2012
    A direct trope namer is already a bit iffy, but adding in "syndrome" is bound to get under some troper's skin. There's got to be a better name out there.
  • May 20, 2012
    I'm failing to see the trope here. What, new character that doesn't fit the theme of a work? Dragon Ball GT may have sucked, but I don't see how anything in that series was inherently anti dragon ball. Especially since GT was arguably its own series.

    The Star Wars characters? Guests, nothing any different than what they were doing since 2.

    Meta Knight, a Waddling Head in a world made up of waddling heads, exactly how did he clash with anything? The forced weapon fight? Kaboola did that last game and Nightmare did it later in the same game.

    How exactly did Vaati clash with Zelda besides being not Ganon? There was no Ganon in Zelda 2, Link's Awakening or Majora's Mask either. He was a mage in a series where mages are common.

    And that brings us to Shadow. By the time Shadow was out in his own games riding bikes and shooting guns, maybe then he had distanced himself from Sonic but at the start, he was just another super fast Hedgehog who skated instead of running(as opposed to the hovering Metal Sonic?)

    Now if you're talking Tone Shift, maybe I can buy it but as is I'm not seeing the trope through the examples.
  • May 20, 2012
    ^ This and please read Trope Namer Syndrome.
  • May 20, 2012
  • May 21, 2012
    Tropes Are Not Bad though! So this is a character who represents a Tone Shift and wouldn't have fit with earlier incarnations of the work BUT fit the new version because Characterisation Marches On and stuff? The inverse of The Artifact, I guess. This could be interesting because it would deconstruct or at least justify some examples of The Scrappy, especially The Replacement Scrappy.

    • Billie from the final series of Charmed might qualify.
    • Various adult characters in later Harry Potter books, such as Tonks would have been a bit out of place in the earlier ones. The series undergoes a shift in focus from discovering the magical world and the adventures of the school kids, towards the big good versus evil battle later on. As the protagonists grow older they identify better with the grown up characters.

    Also, I only just got the name because I thought it meant Shadow as in... shadowing someone else... I don't know. Maybe something like New Rules New Characters? Something like that but less rubbish.
  • May 21, 2012
    Also sounds like Ensemble Darkhorse.
  • May 21, 2012
    @ WMP, The distinction between Ensemble Darkhorse and this would be the fact that this character is introduced late in the game, whereas an Ensemble Darkhorse could have been there from the start. And yeah, the name clearly needs work (that's why it's tagged as such).

    @ Cider, The star wars characters clearly don't fit in in the same way because they're from Sci-Fi and use technology as opposed to magic, in addition to the force. Meta-Knight, because he A, has his own ship, B, is somewhat of a darker Anti-Hero, AND uses weapons. It's kind of like if you added batman to my little pony, or something. Sure, there're already some freakish, fairly grimark things in that setting, but not in the same way. Vaati didn't necessarily clash, but he certainly did take the series in a slightly different direction, what with showing his rise to power, his transformation into the monster, et al. I guess he was kind of redundant to add, maybe. As for shadow, he certainly came into the franchise at the right time, and most definitely did start to take the whole thing in a new direction. I suppose you could think of the trope as pertaining to the instigator of a Tone Shift, in the same way a Scrappy character might result in a Broken Base.

    Honestly, I would say Silver the Hedgehog would be a better example, but I forgot about him while I was writing the examples. What with his not-entirely chaos-related powers, his entirely out-of-the-blue (Pun Intended) backstory, and the fact that in subsequent appearances he was either Retconned or just changed in some other way.

    Maybe another example might be The Ultimate Warrior from the pro-wrestling world?
  • May 21, 2012
    okay I just realised the tags didn't work for some reason. *re-adds a bunch*

    Also, @Heart Of An Astronaut, maybe just New Characters New Rules?
  • May 21, 2012
  • May 22, 2012
    It's yet another "Trope -Doer" clone, only slightly disguised. "The Shark Jump-er". =]
  • May 22, 2012
    No it's not. It's something that happens that is specifically linked to that one character. It's the character that gets added, not anything that the character specifically does.
  • May 22, 2012
    Meta Knight did not have a ship until Super Star, two games after his initial appearance, every boss was an anti hero in Kirby's Adventure except for Nightmare and Dedede used a weapon in the last game. Even then, did the Kirby games really change in tone because of him? Are Dream Land, Adventure and Super Star not as equally silly and whimsical? Maybe the non Sakurai games like Dream Land 2 and 3 or Mass Attack have a slight shift in tone but that would be good old fashion Knights Of Cerebus Dark Matter and Zero.

    Ocarina of Time had Ganondorf rise to power and become a monster, Wind Waker explained his motivations, Vaati wasn't anything radically new for Zelda.

    Heihachi and Spawn in Soul Caliber, a weapons/sword fighting game, was as odd as anything to come when they don't even fight with weapons, at least the Star Wars guys have glow sticks. Spawn's ax was basically created for the game and Heihachi taped some metal on his wrists.

    Ultimate Warrior debuted in the height of cartoony gimmicks in American Professional Wrestling. He was a longer winded, less comprehensible, more invincible Hulk Hogan. He even had a "power of the audience" comeback that involved lots of shaking and a drop finisher. The face paint wasn't even that strange considering Great Kabuki and Kamala before him. I suppose you're talking about after Ultimate Warrior went insane but that was long after his debut.
  • May 22, 2012
    or New Era Character?

    • Mike from Friends probably wouldn't have fit in within the earlier incarnations of the show when the focus was more on observational humour about being a twenty-something and kooky love interests of the week. By the time Mike was added in the second-to-last season the show was moving towards explaining how everyone "ends up".
    • The Pokemon games have a tendency to add specific species of Pokemon just to make the most of the latest game's new features. E.g. Sawsbuck showed off the use of seasons feature in Generation V, Chatot was designed to go with the microphone on the latest DS, and the introduction of Pokemon gender in Generation 2 led to Mons such as Miltank that were female only.
  • May 22, 2012
    Let's get this trope a more indicative name. I propose Tone Shifting Character. Better ideas?
  • May 22, 2012
    Oooh, I actually like the idea of "New Era New Character", maybe? What do people think?

    Also, @Cider, I did not know that about meta-knight. I guess he's not really an example after all, then. Also, thinking about it, I think I'll put in a clause about guest characters...
  • May 24, 2012
    well, this has been going for three days now. Hats?
  • May 25, 2012
    As several people have already said, Shadow The X Syndrome is a Bad Trope Namer.

    Even if the reader knows that it's a reference to Shadow the Hedgehog, there's no way they'll realize what the trope is actually about just from that, because Shadow has many possible qualities it could be referring to.

    Until it has a proper name it shouldn't receive any hats.
  • May 25, 2012
    Good point. I did ask about names, and it'd only be ready with five hats anyway, but sure.
  • May 25, 2012
    I think Scrappy himself would count in this trope. When he was introduced, Fred, Daphne and Velma were Put On A Bus. The general structure of new Scooby-Doo content was different, too. Once Fred and company came back, the old format returned as well.
  • May 25, 2012
    • The Love Boat: Vicki the Captain's Daughter somehow becomes a crewmember despite being well underage. Also the Mermaids & Ted McGinley as the Ship's Photographer in the final season.
  • June 12, 2013
    Does Gwen Raiden in Angel count? (Bonus points for having a Meaningful Name in addition to electrical powers.)
  • The title might need a little work: it might be confusing, say if the series in a Long Runner, and people might think this applies to a character who was added to the show much, much later in the show's run (ala Abby Cadabby or Murray on Sesame Street).
  • June 13, 2013
    The Yuuzhan Vong race in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. While the previous enemies of the galactic civilization, namely Sith and Imperials, were technology-loving, mostly-human and aided by the Dark Side, the Vong were technology-hating extragalactic aliens immune to the Force and incapable of using it. Introduction of the Vong gave a serious rehash to the Expanded Universe, including the death of Chewbacca.