Created By: bitt3n on March 27, 2013 Last Edited By: Arivne on February 13, 2018

If You Cannot Join Them Beat Them

Hell hath no fury like a fan-club member scorned

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[I posted this a long, long time ago, but then I neglected to create the page. Not sure if something similar has been done since.]

You got all dressed up to fight for the causes of truth, justice, and a happy ending for all, but nobody invited you to the party, because you're incompetent, socially maladroit, unsightly, always in the way, or otherwise damaged merchandise. It's also possible that your over-the-top enthusiasm makes the heroes vaguely uneasy. Either you creep them out by trying to hard to fit in, or they suspect you might just be taking the piss. As a result, they blow you off, causing you to rechannel your irrepressible ardor and not-inconsiderable powers into demonstrating to them just how big a mistake this was.

Your motivation can add a sympathetic dimension to an otherwise irredeemable character, who started with the best intentions, and only wanted a bit of recognition. Meanwhile, your ill treatment can rub some of the gilt off an otherwise all-too-saintly protagonist, who could have headed off your rampage if he had only given you a pat on the head, and offered you a bit part in his parade of do-goodery and pithy one-liners.

A few examples (spoilers for The Incredibles, 300):

Syndrome of The Incredibles, the hunchback of 300, Darth Vader, the Greek god Eris, whose golden apple led to the Trojan War, and the snubbed fairy who, in retaliation, gifted Sleeping Beauty with a curse, rather than a blessing.

Real-life examples might include any number of social outcasts who show up at school one day and gun down the popular kids, as well as scorned suitors who take revenge upon the prior object of their affection.

The opposite of this trope would be Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, who demonstrates that his ostracism was a mistake by actually doing good, rather than making life more difficult.
Community Feedback Replies: 13
  • March 27, 2013
    See Example As Thesis. Avoid using hypothetical situations to explain your trope.
  • March 27, 2013
    A number of characters from the Legion Of Super-Heroes' various Terrible Interviewees Montages have joined the Legion of Super-Villains to get back at them.
  • March 27, 2013
    Spurned To A Life Of Crime? ("To Evil" might sound like the bad guys dislike him)
  • March 27, 2013
    @Drac Monster that's some of it, but I'm particularly interested in the fact that the heroes are themselves directly responsible for the creation of their own nemesis, which makes it possible partly to reverse the natural sympathies of the audience. For example, in the case of The Incredibles (spoiler), it's hard not to consider Mr. Incredible to be a bit of a heel, given that the villain he spurned ended up proving himself to be exceedingly capable despite his lack of superpowers.
  • March 28, 2013
    ^Well, see, it seems like this could be expanded to a more general "turned evil from being rejected by those they admire." The superhero thing seems like narrowing it too much.

    Also, I'd think it could include cases where the "spurner" didn't obviously snub them from an objective viewpoint, but simply didn't return the enthusiasm strongly enough -- in the villains mind, anyway. (Think of an obsessive fan of a singer that goes off the deep end and tries to shoot him.)

    This would encompass your idea but also be open to a lot more examples.

    From Hero Worship To Villainy, perhaps.
  • May 9, 2013
    I think the question concerns the appropriate level of granularity. My initial proposal is "villains who turned to villainy as a result of being spurned by the heroes." If I understand correctly, you are proposing this be expanded to "villains who are turned to villainy as a result of being spurned by those they admire."

    The reason I limited the scope to the heroes is the fact that what I find interesting about such villains is how the story of their origin develops not only their own character, but the characters of the heroes as well.

    By way of examples, what I find interesting about, say, Darth Vader's origin is the fact that the jedi sowed the seeds of their own destruction by spurning him, and thus arguably deserve some of the blame for the fallout. Likewise if Mr. Incredible hadn't blown off Buddy, he would have saved a lot of lives. If the rest of the gods hadn't spurned Eris, they could have prevented the Trojan War. If the king hadn't overlooked the wicked fairy, Sleeping Beauty never would have been cursed. If Leonidas hadn't scoffed at the hunchback, the 300 wouldn't have been surrounded. In each case, evildoer becomes an exaggerated reflection of some failing (however slight) in the hero.

    The fact that the broader category does not necessarily inform on the reflection of a hero's flaw in the villain is why I would propose the narrower category receive particular attention. The broader category doubtless constitutes a trope in its own right, such as "villains turned to villainy on account of social ostracism and alienation." However I don't think the number of additional examples this encompasses justifies the loss of focus from development of the hero-villain relationship.
  • May 9, 2013
    Hmm ok I understand your arguments. The only thing is, "the heroes created him" kind of gets into YMMV territory with this one. In every single example you site, It's a justification the villain is using that is very easy to call BS on (cursing a child because her parents didn't invite you to the christening?) It's really a variant of Never My Fault.

    If you structure this as "this is that characters opinion" it's an objective trope, but if you're framing it as an actual "outside the fourth wall" judgement I'm pretty sure it's going to be a YMMV page. (A potentially very nattery one too, but you could put in warnings against that.)
  • May 10, 2013
    Altered the title so all words start with a capital letter and eliminated the punctuation because it can cause problems.

  • May 10, 2013
    Syndrome in The Incredibles. "My name is not BUDDY! And it's not Incrediboy, either. That ship has sailed."
  • May 10, 2013
  • February 12, 2018
    I feel like we have something like this...
  • February 12, 2018
  • February 13, 2018