[[quoteright:250:[[VisualPun http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/strawmanguthing.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:250:Your argument did not address his, but nice try.]]

->''"A straw man argument is one based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position. To 'set up a straw man' or 'set up a straw man argument' is to describe a position that superficially resembles an opponent's actual view but is easier to refute, then attribute that position to the opponent."''
-->-- ''Wiki/{{Wikipedia}}''

You've set out making your latest work with the intention to speak your piece on some contested issue, but you've found it's harder than you expected. You have to write both sides of the issue, after all, and what do you do when you can't bring yourself to fairly represent the other side of the argument. What if you're not entirely clear on what the other side ''is''?

Simple: declare war on straw! You're the writer, aren't you? You control what the "other side" has to say. All you need to do is present the opposing position as a laughable shadow of its former self and you can easily knock it over. You'll always be the winner! Everybody loves a winner. Bonus points if the opposing side is violently murdered afterwards (with the killer [[KarmaHoudini never being punished]], naturally, because why would you ever punish someone who's ''right?'').

Some of the tropes here are not strawmen every time they appear; for instance, a CorruptChurch, AnimalWrongsGroup, or AmoralAttorney can sometimes be used as a villain a la AcceptableTargets [[WhatDoYouMeanItsNotDidactic without any (deliberate) intention]] of making a larger political statement. Sometimes people use those things with the justification that [[PoesLaw they do exist in reality]] to a limited extent -- but they are still strawmen when used, implicitly or explicitly, to try to make a larger argument against anyone who shares their beliefs (especially if they happen to be particularly extreme and/or alienating to even other people who ''do'' share them but are decidedly more moderate about the topic in question).

Sometimes the existence of non-corrupt/wrong/amoral versions is acknowledged in the setting to indicate that there's no hard feelings; on the other hand, sometimes those good versions are really a FoxNewsLiberal used to try to make an actual strawman less obvious.

It is also important to note that ''caricature'', [[TropesAreTools itself, can be a perfectly valid way to make an argument]]; Voltaire, Swift, and many other writers have used it effectively and incisively against their opponents. The distinction is that valid caricatures use exaggeration and hyperbole as rhetorical devices to present nonetheless legitimate arguments, exposing the victim's failings and flaws without misrepresenting them. But the line between the two can be extremely thin, especially in unskilled hands or when the author does not truly understand what they are trying to caricature; many authors have produced strawmen that were painfully obvious to others while believing themselves to be penning biting Swiftian satire.

For more detail about the fallacy upon which this series of tropes is named, see StrawmanFallacy.

The flip side (where a position is so off-the-wall that it's impossible to distinguish between a genuine statement and an exaggeration/parody) is PoesLaw. The actual inverse is sometimes referred to as "Steelmanning," where a debater attacks the ''strongest'' possible interpretation of their opponent's argument, even if it is not the argument they necessarily made. This is often used against evasive "guerrilla debaters" who attempt to avoid actually presenting their own arguments, in the hope of constantly taking shots at their opponent without having to defend their own position.

When you fought the straw and the straw won (in the opinion of your readers/viewers), it's StrawmanHasAPoint.

The War On Straw has many fronts; among them are:

* AgentScully: Used to portray skeptics, scientists and other people who don't believe in magic/the paranormal/higher powers as closed-minded and dogmatic.
* AllIssuesArePoliticalIssues: Can be used against either side of the political spectrum.
* AmbulanceChaser: When the strawmen are portrayed as InUniverse UnacceptableTargets.
* AmoralAttorney: Lawyers are depicted as slimy and untrustworthy due to the nature of their job (which usually involves defending unscrupulous clients).
* AnimalWrongsGroup: Portrays advocates of animal rights as uncaring towards human lives.
* AntiRoleModel: In order to discourage kids from doing something bad, the writer portrays a character who does said bad things in the worst possible light.
* AssimilationAcademy: Schools are portrayed as soul-sucking institutions designed to mould everyone into being identical.
* BeliefMakesYouStupid: A work with an anti-religious slant portrays believing in the existence of deities as committing intellectual suicide.
* BerserkButton: When the opponent is easily offended by something.
* BlondeRepublicanSexKitten: Women with conservative values are portrayed as manipulative [[FemmeFatale Femme Fatales]].
* BombThrowingAnarchists: For OrderVsChaos stories where people on the chaos side are portrayed as AxCrazy and unsympathetic.
* CategoryTraitor: When the writer creates the false idea that anybody from a group of people who doesn't follow the same beliefs as that group is betraying them.
* CorruptChurch & PathOfInspiration: If that trope is used to portray a real-world religion, or an {{Expy}} of one.
* CorruptCorporateExecutive: Frequently, when one of these appears in fictionland, it's to either be, or set up, a strawman.
* CrapSackWorld: Often a society in which everything the writer is against has taken over.
** CrapSaccharineWorld: In a similar vein but instead everyone except the characters who are in the right benefit from this setting.
* CruellaToAnimals: Pretending anyone who eats meat or wears fur actually likes animals being hurt.
* DeconstructionFic: If it ends up turning into a RevengeFic against particular characters.
* DeliberateValuesDissonance: When presented in an {{Anvilicious}} way.
* {{Demonization}}: When the strawman is not only wrong but evil too.
* DesignatedEvil: The writer decides that a character's action is bad without much thought as to why.
* DesignatedHero: Happens when the character we're expected to side with fails to give reasons why we should think he's right.
* DesignatedVillain: The only reason this character is demonized is because they disagreed with the protagonist.
* DryCrusader: When this character is in the right, everyone who drinks alcohol is considered to be worse than the Devil. Can also be used to assume that anyone who refrains from alcohol acts this way towards drinkers.
* EasyEvangelism: The strawman has never considered the opposing view and immediately converts once they hear an explanation.
* FamilyValuesVillain: If combined with the HeteronormativeCrusader.
* FalseDichotomy: Two fronts for the price of one!
* FoxNewsLiberal and its counterpart, the MSNBCConservative: If opposing views fail to properly be presented, thus creating an echo chamber.
* TheFundamentalist: Can be used to portray a religious stereotype.
* FurAndLoathing: To make someone look bad just by what they are wearing.
* GayConservative: When used to imply that one cannot be politically conservative and homosexual at the same time or to assume all openly homophobic conservatives are [[ArmoredClosetGay secretly gay]].
* GodwinsLaw: Comparing anything you don't like with one of the worst dictators in human history.
* GoldenMeanFallacy: To declare that both sides are extreme and the "correct" side is somewhere in the middle.
* GoodIsDumb: Portrays {{goodness|Tropes}} and {{idealism|Tropes}} as utterly moronic and out of touch with life
* GrumpyBear: Essentially a straw [[TheCynic cynic]].
* HateFic: Often transforms the cast of the attacked show into unsympathetic caricatures.
* HateSink: The strawman is created to attract hate to promote a point.
* TheHedonist: Those who live pleasure seeking lifestyles are portrayed as self-centered and materialistic.
* HeteronormativeCrusader: Can either crop up in [[SlashFic Slash Fics]] where a character is hit by RonTheDeathEater or on the flip side in a CureYourGays story where this character is the one who's right.
* HollywoodAtheist: Portrays people who don't believe in a higher power as immoral, miserable, or venomous towards believers.
* HollywoodSatanism: Likely to be used against religions that are not fundamentalist Christianity.
* InformedWrongness: The Strawman is in the wrong for weak reasons.
* InternalAffairs: The higher ups for police forces are portrayed as corrupt.
* InternalRetcon: Crops up in works that promote denialism.
* JumpingOffTheSlipperySlope: Insisting that doing one morally ambiguous thing leads to a life of crime.
* LadyLand: Used by more anti-feminist writers.
* LawfulStupidChaoticStupid: For a series where BothOrderAndChaosAreDangerous.
* MalcolmXerox: If there's a left leaning black man in a work, he'll almost always be portrayed as a paranoid loon that thinks "the white man" is out to get him.
* TheNewRockAndRoll: Used by more paranoid writers when attacking new fads and ideas they don't understand.
* NotMakingThisUpDisclaimer: When [[RefugeInAudacity the Strawman in question is an honest representation]].
* NoMereWindmill: For stories where the protagonist is dismissed as crazy but is actually right all along.
* NoWomansLand: When used to demonize a nation that isn't as progressive in women's rights as one's own.
* OutgrownSuchSillySuperstitions: When used [[AuthorTract as a way for the author to say]] religion is evil/encumbering on society.
* OutsideJoke: A joke based on a misrepresentation or misunderstanding of the subject.
* ParodyReligion: Often takes the form of several religions lumped together regardless if they have anything in common.
* PoesLaw: When a strawman is mistaken for the real thing, or vice versa.
* PoliticallyMotivatedTeacher: In its most basic form.
* PompousPoliticalPundit: Used to potshot prominent news reporters that don't share one's political beliefs.
* ThePresentsWereNeverFromSanta: When the trope is used to dismiss authority and undermine legitimacy.
* RevengeFic: Canon characters are transformed into strawmen.
* RonTheDeathEater: {{Demonization}} applies to a canonical hero for their flaws and/or evil sides.
* ScareEmStraight: Things that the writer opposes are portrayed as having horrible consequences if one does/associates with them.
* StrawAffiliation: In the same vein as CategoryTraitor, people who are a part of a certain group are portrayed as not being allowed to endorse things that are typically not associated with them(e.g. gays and women can't be conservative).
* StrawCharacter: They exist for one reason and one reason only, to be proven wrong.
* StrawCivilian: In a military focused work, any and all non-military characters are shown as being actively hostile towards soldiers.
* StrawCritic: Media critics are portrayed as snooty and uptight. Often used by writers who can't take criticism.
* StrawFan: Used to caricature the worst aspects of one's fanbase.
* StrawFeminist: Assumes that feminists are hostile towards men.
* StrawHypocrite: The {{hypocrite}} doesn't even believe what he preaches; as with AmoralAttorney or CorruptChurch, not ''always'' a subtrope of The War On Straw, but a frequent one nevertheless.
* StrawLoser: Characters who don't conform to what the writer believes or thinks is awesome often get portrayed as deserving of ridicule.
* StrawMisogynist: For particularly {{Anvilicious}} portrayals of HeManWomanHater characters.
* StrawNihilist: Those with nihilistic views get [[{{Flanderization}} Flanderized]] as believing that life has no meaning and use this to justify acts of villainy.
* StrawVegetarian: Vegetarians and vegans are portrayed as intolerant of meat eaters and actively try to force their dietary ways on others.
* StrawVulcan: The writer treats people who are logical thinkers as cold and emotionless.
* StrawmanBall: The author's opposing ideas are passed between different characters, usually similar to FlipFlopOfGod.
* StrawmanEmotional: Opposite of the StrawVulcan in which it's the characters who act on their emotions who are treated as irrational.
* StrawmanHasAPoint: What happens when bad writing or authorial myopia creates a front in The War On Straw that the author actually has a chance of losing.
* StrawmanNewsMedia: News media are almost ''never'' portrayed as being trustworthy in fiction.
* StrawmanProduct: Making a false image of another product.
* StrawmanU: Certain types of schools are portrayed as attracting people who are politically opposite of the writer.
* TheoryTunnelvision: When the writer is convinced that his/her opponents won't accept their views even when they're proven to be correct.
* ThereAreNoGoodExecutives: Business men are all greedy jackasses within the setting.
* ThisLoserIsYou
* TooIncompetentToOperateABlanket
* WideEyedIdealist: Essentially a strawman version of TheIdealist.
* WindmillCrusader
* WindmillPolitical