Created By: Syrika on October 14, 2015 Last Edited By: Syrika on February 24, 2017
Troped

Temporarily Exaggerated Trait

An individual trait in an episode is highlighted.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
"Question: Are you two acting even more infantile than usual this morning?"
Squidward, S9EP03 "Squid Baby"

This is a trope to describe when a single trait in a character is exaggerated to make a specific episode plot work. This can happen to several different aspects of the same character, though in different episodes (for example, Alice is a flighty valley girl; however, one episode will have her being such a Dumb Blonde that she must retake a class, while another ups her love of fashion and turns her into an extreme know-it-all regarding the subject).

Tropes Are Not Bad - this can be used to give us more character development rather than less, as it can flesh out an aspect that we didn't know anything about. If used poorly, it can feel contrived, or force a character into a role that we've never seen them in before.

Compare with Flanderization, where a single character trait is exaggerated over a long period of time. Also see Compressed Vice and Depending on the Writer.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Happens often in Sailor Moon.
    • The first anime relied on its massive amounts of filler to display characterization, and this often means that characters' traits are exaggerated. For instance, in an episode where the Dark Kingdom wanted to discover the true identity of Princess Serenity, they opened some Princess Classes and in them, Usagi was shown to be extremely impolite and clumsy, even more than the usual, and in Makoto's introductory episode, she fell in love at first sight and also punched a villain in the face UNTRANSFORMED.
    • The manga, while more compressed and plot oriented, used special companion stories to display this. For example, in a special dealing with Minako's and Rei's friendship, Minako appeared to be even more extroverted and unmannered than in a typical episode, while Rei was trying too hard to act graceful and proper.
  • The seventh episode of Yuri!!! on Ice is the one where Yuri's anxiety and pre-performance fears really come into play.

    Literature 
  • Harry Potter's Ron Weasley ends up saving the day in the first book thanks to his recurrent affinity for Chess. Outside of that first book, his Chess skill is only hinted at by an offhand Chess reference he makes in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

    Live Action TV 
  • In The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon's ornithophobia (fear of birds) is mentioned a few times but never elaborated until the episode "The Ornithophobia Diffusion", where it becomes central to the plot as a bird flies in his apartment through a window.
  • Murdoch Mysteries: One of Inspector Brackenreid's Hidden Depths is painting. It gets a passing reference in the third season when he testily tells Murdoch he knows what a pigment is, but it becomes a subplot when Murdoch and Dr. Ogden see one of his finished pictures, which Julia later enters in a contest at an art gallery. Brackenreid considers taking it back, but is persuaded to leave it in the contest, only to have the painting stolen for its frame. After it is recovered, a young artist who expressed interest in it visits his office and buys it from the inspector.
  • Chandler from Friends was always a doofus, but even still he could be quite charming and rarely lost his nerve around women. In one of the final seasons, Chandler ends up trying to talk to a woman Ross is trying to date and can't figure out how to form a single word around her because of how nervous he is.

    Western Animation 
  • This happens frequently to Mabel in Gravity Falls.
    • One major example is "The Last Mabelcorn," in which Mabel suddenly stresses how she has a "pure heart" and constant tries to be the best person she can be.
    • In "The Love God," her matchmaking tendencies are turned way up.
    • With Grunkle Stan: His shady tendencies are highlighted in "The Stanchurian Candidate" - he can't give a speech without revealing his amoral nature, and at the end, a reporter gleefully lists all his crimes.
  • Futurama does this fairly often; notably, Benderama exaggerates Bender's laziness, and The Duh-Vinci Code exaggerates Fry's stupidity.
  • Invoked by Wirt in Over the Garden Wall, episode 3. After Beatrice mocks Wirt for being an Extreme Doormat, he takes this Up to Eleven and follows Miss Langtree's instructions to not leave the schoolhouse. He even goes to the dunce corner when she tells him to. This makes the finale more poignant, as Wirt finally stands up to someone - the Beast himself.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Look Before You Sleep," Applejack and Rarity's messy and neat-freak tendencies become the focus when they're forced to spend the night together.
    • Several of the main ponies would have their elements only put on true display in their own limelight episodes. For example Applejack's Element of Honesty is harder to convey outside instances the plot requires a situation to lie, same for Rainbow Dash's Element of Loyalty (given most of the other main characters are equally heroic and loyal).
  • In the first episode of Danny Phantom, Sam is a vegetarian and Tucker is obsessed with meat. While these facts are referenced in later episodes, they're quite exaggerated here; Sam and Tucker even stage anti-meat and anti-veggie protests!
  • Rufus' tendency for daydreaming and lacking focus is pointed out several times in The Dreamstone, but because he is often a Hero Antagonist, it only becomes exceptionally apparent in a handful of limelight episodes such as the pilot and "Urpgor's Island".
  • The revived series of Danger Mouse:
    • it's a running gag that DM always ends up breaking Professor Squawkencluck's gadgets (as a parody of James Bond's similar treatment of Q's gadgets), but in the episode "Big Head Awakens", it's the entire basis of the plot.
    • In the episode "The Inventor Preventer", DM's occasional tendency to be a Last Second Showoff becomes something he does at every opportunity, leading to a climax where he saves the day by not leaving it to the last second.
  • Whenever an episode in Wander over Yonder wants to show Wander's negative traits; his tendencies to obsessively care for others or succumb to temptation become greatly exaggerated compared to other episodes. Examples include "The Helper," where he was driven crazy when he was unable to find someone to help.
    • "The Timebomb" is the only episode to really show off Sylvia's problem with competition.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil:
    • In the pilot episode, Marco is introduced as the "safe kid," and he spends several scenes in the episode protecting Star from perceived threats like open locker doors. This is toned down in all the other episodes.
    • In "Sleep Spells," Marco is both more focused on being a psychiatrist and more disturbed by the amount of times Star's saved his life compared to the other way around. These traits don't come up to such a degree outside of this episode.
Community Feedback Replies: 63
  • October 14, 2015
    GiorgioDaneri
    • Happens often in Sailor Moon.
      • The first anime relied on its massive amounts of filler to display characterization, and this often means that characters trats are exaggerated. For instance, in an episode were the Dark Kingdom wanted to discover the true identity of Princess Serenity, they opened some Princess Classes and in them, Usagi was shown to be extremely impolite and clumsy, even more than the usual, and in Makoto's introductory episode, she fell in love at first sight and also punched a villain in the face UNTRANSFORMED.
      • The Manga, while more compressed and plot oriented, used special companion stories to display this. For example, in a special dealing with Minako's and Rei's friendship, Minako appeared to be even more extroverted and unmannered than in a typical episode, while Rei was trying too hard to act graceful and proper.
  • October 14, 2015
    Psi001
    Compare Depending On The Writer, in which a character's personality will alter from episode to episode.
  • October 14, 2015
    DAN004
    Call it Compressed Virtue or Compressed Trait since this is related to Compressed Vice.
  • October 14, 2015
    PaulA
    ^ It seems to me there's an important difference, though.

    Compressed Vice is about a plot that's served by giving a character a trait they never had before and don't have afterward. This trope is about a plot that's served by placing an extreme emphasis on a trait the character had all along.
  • October 14, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ Still related though, right?
  • October 15, 2015
    Nazetrime
    This Looks Like A Job For Aquaman may be related also.
  • October 15, 2015
    Arivne
    The first two paragraphs are an Example As A Thesis and are completely unnecessary because the third paragraph is the trope description.

    It's generally a bad idea, for the reasons given in Example As A Thesis and SelfDemonstrating/ExampleAsAThesis.
  • October 15, 2015
    randomsurfer
    Is pull-n-peel an idiom of some kind?
  • October 15, 2015
    robinjohnson
    • This was frequently done with Chakotay on Star Trek Voyager, who'd suddenly be revealed to have always had an interest in boxing/archeology/anthropology/paleontology when it was relevant to the episode. Sci Fi Debris would highlight this using the sound of rolling dice whenever Chakotay was given another hobby.
  • October 15, 2015
    Syrika
    ^^ Pull N' Peel is a reference to pull n' peel Twizzlers, which you pick apart by pieces before eating. That is, you pay specific attention to a single section.

    Comparisons and examples will be edited in.

  • October 15, 2015
    Syrika
    ...Uh oh. How do you edit tags once you add them?
  • October 15, 2015
    randomsurfer
    ^Can't. Only a mod can delete tags.

    ^^Bad Trope Namer. When I made a websearch Twizzlers was the only reference I could find but thought "that can't be it."
  • October 15, 2015
    Syrika
    Anyone, let me know if you have ideas for a name - Compressed Trait (^x10) is on the maybe list.
  • October 15, 2015
    PaulA
    "A Trait in the Limelight"?
  • October 15, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ Maybe?
  • October 17, 2015
    Syrika
    ^^ I like it.
  • October 18, 2015
    Arivne
    • Examples section
      • Namespaced, italicized and Blue Linked work names.
      • Corrected spelling (in an episode were -> where).
      • De-capitalized (Manga).
      • De-bold faced the Western Animation section title.
  • October 18, 2015
    Snicka
    • In The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon's ornithophobia (fear of birds) is mentioned a few times but never elaborated until the episode "The Ornithophobia Diffusion", where it becomes central to the plot as a bird flies in his apartment through a window.
  • October 24, 2015
    Syrika
    So, this thread has kinda gone static...is there any way to promote it more, or try to improve it to the point where it can become a real article?
  • October 24, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ Simply bump it more. Better yet, try finding more examples.
  • January 6, 2016
    HeroGal2347
    I'm not sure if this counts,but here goes anyway:

    • In the Darkwing Duck episode "Let's Get Respectable", Darkwing's status as a Hero With Bad Publicity becomes a plot point. He gets sick of his bad image and gives himself a makeover, which works until Negaduck goes on a rampage and he needs to return to normal.
  • January 7, 2016
    Syrika
    Hm, maybe? Is there a portion of the episode, like a montage, that specifically emphasizes Darkwing's Hero With Bad Publicity status so that he starts to take notice?
  • January 7, 2016
    HeroGal2347
    I forget. I haven't seen the episode in a while.
  • January 7, 2016
    Syrika
    I'll leave it off for now, just in case - maybe later I can look up a transcript of the episode.
  • January 7, 2016
    Psi001
    • Rufus' tendency for daydreaming and lacking focus is pointed out several times in The Dreamstone, but because he is often a Hero Antagonist, it only becomes exceptionally apparent in a handful of limelight episodes such as the pilot and "Urpgor's Island".
    • Adding onto the Friendship Is Magic example, several of the main ponies would have their elements only put on true display in their own limelight episodes. For example Applejack's Element of Honesty is harder to convey outside instances the plot requires a situation to lie, same for Rainbow Dash's Element of Loyalty (given most of the other main characters are equally heroic and loyal).
  • February 26, 2016
    69BookWorM69
    @ Syrika Let me run this by you to see if it's what you're getting at: In the series Murdoch Mysteries, one of Inspector Brackenreid's Hidden Depths is painting. It gets a passing reference in the third season when he testily tells Murdoch he knows what a pigment is, but it becomes a subplot when Murdoch and Dr. Ogden see one of his finished pictures, which Julia later enters in a contest at an art gallery. Brackenreid considers taking it back, but is persuaded to leave it in the contest, only to have the painting stolen for its frame. After it is recovered, a young artist who expressed interest in it visits his office and buys it from the inspector.
  • February 29, 2016
    justanotherrandomlurker
    I asked about this a long time ago and was clearly told that this is Compressed Vice, so Motion To Discard.
  • February 29, 2016
    DAN004
    ^ this doesn't have to involve vices.
  • February 29, 2016
    DAN004
    ^ this doesn't have to involve vices.
  • March 1, 2016
    PaulA
    I don't believe this is the same thing as Compressed Vice.

    Compressed Vice is about a plot that's served by giving a character a trait they never had before and don't have afterward. This trope is about a plot that's served by placing an extreme emphasis on a trait the character had all along.
  • March 1, 2016
    69BookWorM69
    ^ I'm inclined to agree with you. In fact, I supplied the example I did because the trait was alluded to in an earlier episode and powered a subplot in a later episode.
  • March 1, 2016
    DAN004
    May involve Cerebus Retcon.

    • One Piece: Nami is introduced as a thief who would scam even her crewmates for money. In Arlong Arc, however, we see why she's so obsessed with getting money: she's trying to collect a crapload of money so she can buy her village back from Arlong.
  • March 2, 2016
    Syrika
    Paul A had a really good summary of it! That's exactly what ATITL is.

    @Dan I don't think that One Piece example would work; it looks like it's more explaining her backstory than anything.

    I've also been looking for a good image and page quote - anyone have any ideas what those would be like?
  • March 2, 2016
    DAN004
    ^ but it also gives light to that particular trait. Why not?

    One Piece likes doing this, I have other examples of it.
  • March 2, 2016
    Syrika
    This trait is less about giving light to a trait and more about exaggerating the use of the trait. A better example would be an episode where Nami steals an unforgivable amount of money for her crewmates; a trait she's always had is particularly prevalent, enough to kick off the plot. Bonus points if they sit down and talk about it as if it's always been this extreme - "She's always stealing money from us!" I don't watch One Piece, though, so I can't elaborate more without being horribly inaccurate. :P

    What other examples can you think of?
  • March 2, 2016
    updownbanana
    • Futurama does this fairly often; notably, Benderama exaggerates Bender's laziness, and The Duh-Vinci Code exaggerates Fry's stupidity.
  • March 2, 2016
    DAN004
    ^^ then why is "linelight" in the title?

    If you're talking about exaggerations, we have Character Exaggeration already.
  • @DAN 004 I didn't even ask about vices, I just simply asked some time ago in Lost and Found if there was a trope where a certain trait, characteristic, or quirk a character has is suddenly flanderized when the plot of a certain episode or something calls for it and was told this was Compressed Vice.
  • March 3, 2016
    DAN004
    ^ because that was the Closest Thing We Got.

    Here, have a proper trope.
  • March 3, 2016
    69BookWorM69
    ^ I agree. I like the "in the limelight" construction with its implication that something already there comes to center stage (to continue the metaphor).
  • March 3, 2016
    DAN004
    ^ so my example should count, right?
  • March 3, 2016
    Syrika
    Not exactly. It's not that the particular trait is being explained; the trait is being temporarily flanderized to fit the situation. It's a very, very bright limelight.

    For what it's worth, I'm still open to suggestions for alternate trope names.
  • March 3, 2016
    DAN004
    I kinda wish this trope can cover explanation for behaviors, though. That seems tropable, as well.

    But why exactly would you wanna limit it, anyway?
  • March 4, 2016
    Syrika
    That's just what not what I made this YMMV for, I guess. But something like backstories for traits would make a good trope if anyone ever wanted to add it as well.
  • March 4, 2016
    DAN004
    Again, how is this not Character Exaggeration?
  • March 6, 2016
    Syrika
    Character Exaggeration is when characters change throughout several series. This is when characters change for a single episode.
  • March 9, 2016
    PaulA
    • In the revived series of Danger Mouse, it's a running gag that DM always ends up breaking Professor Squawkencluck's gadgets (as a parody of James Bond's similar treatment of Q's gadgets), but in the episode "Big Head Awakens", it's the entire basis of the plot.
  • March 9, 2016
    DAN004
    Really though, I hate it if you say "that's just not what I had in mind". You've done that a second time now.
  • March 9, 2016
    Pichu-kun
    It should be noted that Sam is alwaays a vegetarian. Tucker is the one whose obsession with meat was in the limelight.
  • March 10, 2016
    Syrika
    ^^I can't find the second time...or the first. Still, I apologize for whatever's bothering you. I Word Cruft a lot.

    [Edit: second time looks like it's in ^x6. Sorry about that.]

    ^Both Sam and Tucker keep those traits for the rest of the series (well, it's been a while, but I remember one episode where Tucker still had an abhorrence to vegetables and ate them anyways to save Danny). If one of their traits were never mentioned against, that'd be Compressed Vice.

    I think maybe we should get a better name than A Trait in the Limelight? What about Overshadowing Trait or Temporarily Overshadowing Trait? (Or Temporarily Exaggerated Trait for something really straightforward.)
  • March 10, 2016
    DAN004
    The first time was in Campfire Chararacter Exploration.
  • March 16, 2016
    DAN004
    Maybe Trait Exaggeration As The Plot Demands because, well, the exaggeration fuels the plot in this case.
  • March 19, 2016
    Syrika
    Could work. A little bit longer than necessary. I'll change it to something else now just to see how it looks.
  • March 20, 2016
    DAN004
  • March 21, 2016
    Syrika
    Hmm...think catchier?
  • March 21, 2016
    DAN004
    ^ thing is, the current title doesn't exactly cut it. It's not "overshadowing", but "exaggerating", and "plot" must be there.
  • March 27, 2016
    Syrika
    Changed the wording a bit.

    I'm thinking about it, and I think the reason it's difficult to get examples for this trope is that you kind of have to have a comprehensive knowledge of an entire show to compare the way a character acts in one episode to their actions in all the others.
  • April 1, 2016
    PaulA
    • In the Danger Mouse episode "The Inventor Preventer", DM's occasional tendency to be a Last Second Showoff becomes something he does at every opportunity, leading to a climax where he saves the day by not leaving it to the last second.
  • April 7, 2016
    Aubren
    • Whenever an episode in Wonder Over Yander wants to show Wander's negative traits; his obsessive caring/temptation tendencies become greatly exaggerated compared to other episodes.
  • September 22, 2016
    Syrika
    This discussion hasn't been very active for a while, but it's getting closer to 5 hats - does anyone have more examples for media other than Western Animation?
  • September 22, 2016
    DustSnitch
    • Harry Potter's Ron Weasley ends up saving the day in the first book thanks to his recurrent affinity for Chess. Outside of that first book, his Chess skill is only hinted at by an offhand Chess reference he makes in The Deathly Hallows.
    • Chandler from Friends was always a doofus, but even still he could be quite charming and rarely lost his nerve around women. In one of the final seasons, Chandler ends up trying to talk to a woman Ross is trying to date and can't figure out how to form a single word around her because of how nervous he is
  • October 18, 2016
    Syrika
    Thanks!^^
  • November 28, 2016
    Syrika
    Looks like we're ready to launch! Gonna bump this one last time in case anyone has a few more examples or a a page image.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=vd3gdjrqa8q0s03j0zexspnz