Pokeumans originally was a fanfic series by a user named Pokemonmanic3595, but then other people took interest in the concept and a whole online group on deviantART was born of writers who wanted to produce their own series based on the concept
, with hundreds of spin-offs and side-stories creating a huge Shared Universe
Millions of years ago, not long after the dinosaurs were wiped out, humanity was developing. However
, alongside humans were a race of strange creatures that would now be recognised today as Pokemon. They lived with the humans and, as they were far more advanced, helped them grow. They worked together and lived together in harmony. Some Pokemon even found stones that could temporarily turn them into humans
and lived closely with the humans, marrying and having children. All was well, for now.
Unfortunately, Humans Are Bastards
. As the humans grew more intelligent they began to exploit and mistreat the Pokemon, leading to terrible war. Eventually the Legendary Pokemon
created a portal to another dimension for the Pokemon to live without the humans in peace. They used the powers they had to undo everything they had ever taught humanity and leave them the way they were before
, erasing all knowledge of their existence. All the Pokemon then departed to to alternate dimension, leaving only Mew to watch over the humans in disguise.
Fast forward to the 20th century. A scientist known only as Mr. X attempted to use a hair of Mew he discovered accidentally to create a full clone of the legendary. However, the experiment went horrifically wrong and the machine exploded, killing everyone but Mr. X and his research assistant and transforming Mr. X into a Mewtwo, as well as giving him knowledge of the original Pokemon. Moreover, the disaster released a 'genetic shockwave' across the world, and people, usually in their teenage years, whose ancestors had been Pokemon would find themselves irreversibly transforming into the species in their genes at random times.
Mr. X declared these transformees impure and sought to remove them from the world, creating the Pokextinction organisation and building an army by capturing and brainwashing
transformees with the use of sleeper agents
. In response Mew created the Pokeumans organisation, setting up secret bases around the world for the children to be protected and learn how to use their new abilities properly. He also took on a new disguise - Satoshi Tajiri. He used this to create the games to give the transformees fore-warning about what they would become, as liking the games is a strong indicator of being a Pokeuman. To this day a war is fought in secret, using memory erasure to hide it from public and replacing lost transformees with clones to live out their lives unknowingly. This is a series where The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You
The original series focused on a Lucario Pokeuman named Brandon in the secret base under Long Island in America. However, spin-off series since then have used every species from Rattata to Salamance and been set in every corner of the world.The group homepage can be found here.
Tropes found in the original Pokeumans series include:
- Action Girl: Starr and Amy, most notably.
- Added Alliterative Appeal: Chapter 8 (Auditorium Advocates).
- Adorkable: Cameron Taylor the bipedal Hippopotas.
- The Ageless: Mr. X apparently hasn't aged a day since the accident 100 years ago. Neither has Asula.
- The Apprentice: AB the Riolu, who becomes Brandon's protegee.
- April Fools' Day: For April 1st 2013, a joke version of the next chapter was released where about ten paragraphs in a random Groudon appeared out of nowhere and killed everyone in a ridiculous overblown fashion.
- Awesome Mc Coolname: Commander Sarmen Cuczoff of the Long Island PRT.
- Awesomeness by Analysis: Reggie the Grovyle delivers a beatdown to the MSN gang single-handedly while analysing their pathetic tactics and giving a "The Reason You Suck" Speech as he does. Suffice to say, levels in badass were taken.
- Badass Bookworm: Starr the Lucario, who is often seen reading in their dorm. She has her own moments of awesome, particularly at the end of Chapter 9.
- Bamboo Technology: The original Pokemon have lots of this, given how simply and in tune with nature they live.
- Battle Aura: Rikuto the Lucario takes on a visible green aura in a fierce battle.
- Beauty Equals Goodness: Asula the Milotic, kind and wise headmistress of the Long Island base.
- Beware the Nice Ones: When Asula is angry, she's ''really'' angry. She even has Glowing Eyes of Doom.
- Amy, despite being The Heart, did not become an Honorary Elite without picking up certain skills.
- Cameron gets to have a go at this too (see Superpowered Evil Side).
- Beware the Quiet Ones: Sakato Hanaturo the Vaporeon hardly says anything, although he opens up with time, and is too consumed by his training to spend time with people at the beginning of the story. But that training has made him a formidible fighter.
- Big Applesauce: The 'Dimensional Gems hunt' mini-arc takes place in and around New York City.
- Big Bad: Mr. X.
- Big Good: Asula. Even Bigger Good in Mew.
- Big Brother Mentor: Reggie is this to Brandon and Team Dad to everyone else in the main team.
- Big Damn Heroes: Ch. 9 has a mild one. Ch. 17 has an awesome one.
- Big Eater: Mike the Ditto, particularly in his Munchlax form.
- Big Fun: William the Snorlax.
- Bullying a Dragon: The MSN gang spend a lot of time picking on Brandon early in the story and then really regret it later.
- Butt Monkey: Mike. All the bad stuff seems to happen to him, up to and including getting frozen.
- Cain and Abel: Mr. X and Asula.
- Cave Behind The Waterfall: In Chapter 13, one of the Dimensional Gems is stashed here.
- Charles Atlas Superpower: Sakato's incredible speed is from intense training. However, it came at the cost of his social life.
- Chekhov M.I.A.: Connor, Zane and Ryan, in the respective histories of Sakato, Nathan and Starr (See Death by Origin Story).
- Cheerful Child: AB.
- The Chosen One: Brandon seems pretty well qualified to be one of these given the way other characters talk about and his potential. Then Spiritus says that he's no more special than any other Energy Channeller in history.
- Clear My Name: Chapter 4, where Brandon is set up for base treason.
- Co-Dragons: The X-Trio.
- Consummate Liar: Mindy's specialty.
- The CSI Effect: Mike tries to invoke this when acting as defense lawyer. Suffice to say, it doesn't work.
- Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Total Absorption, which grants enormous power but is fatal to the enemy (it literally consumes their aura) and can bring out a Superpowered Evil Side.
- Apparently Rikuto knows some too.
- The Dark Chick: Mindy.
- Death by Origin Story: Well, more like Capture And Brainwash By Origin Story, but Connor, Zane and Ryan suffer this unfortunate fate to give Sakato, Nathan and Starr something greater to fight for.
- A Death in the Limelight: Officer Johnny. Also Reggie, but not to the same extent.
- Despair Event Horizon: Chapter 14 mostly consists of Brandon going across this and slowly coming back.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Chapter 17 sees Brandon and co beat up no less than Dialga, Palkia, Giratina, Reshiram and Zekrom. In one chapter, although two were offscreen.
- Dwindling Party: Quite severely. The team entering the Poke Dimension was about ten or so party members - four chapters later there are three capable party members left, and that's including the ones that joined them mid-arc.
- Eldritch Location: Mt. Temporal and Mt. Reverse.
- Evil Tastes Good:
Mindy: My uncle and I thought up this delicious scheme.
- Eyes Are Mental: When Darren and Mew occupy the same body in later chapters, their eyes switch between yellow and pink depending on who has direct control.
- Failure Knight: The fact Sakato wasn't fast enough to save his friend Connor is the driving reason behind his training to be the fastest Pokeuman pretty much ever.
- Fictional Document: Spiritus' memoirs. note
- Fighting a Shadow: The legendaries fought by the heroes in the Poke Dimension arc were actually mirages to protect the keys to Mt. Origin. Justified in that the legendaries have important jobs maintaining things like the flow of time and the balance of the ecosystem and such.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: The Elite Four:
- Sanguine: William
- Melancholic: Dustin
- Choleric: Zeke
- Phlegmatic: Rikuto
- Good All Along: Dean.
- Healing Factor: Energy Channelling.
- The Heart: Amy the Jigglypuff.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Officer Johnny.
- Hero-Worshipper: AB has plenty of this towards Brandon.
- Hidden Depths: The MSN, particularly Nat, had some of these uncovered through a Cerebus Retcon that showed just how crap it is to be the bullies no-one likes. But at least they have each other.
- An enounter between Brandon and Rikuto after the former's Elite Four victory went into more depths of Rikuto's character and history, even if his origin story is several shades of weird.
- Hostage for MacGuffin: A very brief one in Chapter 9.
- Hulking Out: Evil Cameron. Asula gets a go as well, but she mostly just gets bigger and Turns Red.
- I Am Not Left-Handed: Rikuto admits after his fight with Brandon that even when he said he would fight all-out he was still holding back. Then again, if he hadn't he would probably have killed Brandon.
- I Never Said It Was Poison: Mindy gives herself away by revealing that she knows about the Gemstone Files - something no-one in the base other than Asula would have known of.
- In-Series Nickname: Brandon and Cameron often call each other 'Lucario Friend' and 'Hippopotas Buddy' respectively.
- It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: The start of Chapter 4. Subverted.
- Jerkass: MSN.
- Known Only by Their Nickname: AB's real name is used exactly once, and In-Universe only Brandon knows it.
- Large Ham: Larry Bellowich the MC.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
Brandon (narration): I felt like some jerk was (making him burn his tail repeatedly) on purpose for comedic relief.
- Leeroy Jenkins: Mike. Part of why he gets all the punishment is because he charges in head-first, or at least tries to.
- Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: John Dason has a policy to be respectful and fight fair.
- Lightning Bruiser: Sakato. And we do mean 'lightning'.
- MacGuffin: The Gemstone Files, and then later the Dimensional Gems.
- Made of Iron: Asula. As well as being ridiculously powerful, she also later shows ability to shrug off Pokextinction lasers that completely incapacitate weaker Pokeumans. Potentially justified in her really being roughly a hundred years old, and so having had plenty of time to train.
- Many Spirits Inside of One: A slightly strange example: Mew uses Transform to turn himself into a Golurk so that Darren's extracted soul can be transferred into Mew's body, since Ghosts are not tied down to any specific body themselves. However, this means that control of said body flips between Mew and Darren intermittently, which takes quite some time for them to get the hang of.
- This also leads to Alternate Identity Amnesia, which causes them to not remember anything that happens when the other takes control, except for a strange sense of 'Did I just go somewhere?' Mew even seamlessly finishes his sentence on return.
- Martial Pacifist: Amy. She's only ten, and hates unnecessary fighting.
- Cameron can also be seen as this, but he'll fight if he absolutely needs to.
- Sakato's Mightyena roommate Austin also qualifies. He absolutely hates conflict.
- All of the original Pokemon live this way, apparently.
- Meaningful Name (specific to the original series): Rikuto Hadoryu's surname translates as 'Surging dragon'.
- Mentor Occupational Hazard: Reggie catches quite a nasty dose of this.
- Also Mr. Raso, Cameron's mentor.
- Mission Control: Darren assumes this role in the early stages of the last story arc.
- The Mole: Dean of the X-Trio.
- The Mourning After: See Despair Event Horizon.
- Viewers In Mourning: In fact the only people who responded to Reggie's death quite as strongly as the character were the readers.
- My Instincts Are Showing: Brandon is often quite embarassed by his wagging tail, especially in early chapters.
- Mysterious Waif: Kyle Uchia the Lucario-Ninetales hybrid. See Waif Prophet.
- Never Found the Body: Mr. Raso, who had a strong relation with Cameron.
- Nice Girl: Starr, and Amy. Definitely Amy.
- Noodle Incident: Mike's prankster tendencies lead to several of these: his 'soap bubble fiasco' is Asula's office, his first attempt at a Groudon transformation and numerous incidents involving 'Electrode bombs'.
- There was also something on April Fools Day (in-universe) that involved a guy named Willy getting flushed down the toilet. This lead to Mike being Hoist by His Own Petard in Chapter 10.
- Non-Standard Character Design: Kyle Uchia has violet eyes instead of red ones.
- Rikuto is silver instead of blue and black.
- Cameron walks on two legs rather than being quadrupedal like a normal Hippopotas.
- Old Master: Xatu of Otium Village.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: In Chapter 17, only Brandon's side of the team are shown in their battles. That means we never get to see more than a brief glimpse of the other guys taking down Palkia and Reshiram.
- One-Letter Name: Mr.X.
- One-Man Army: Asula, what with managing to force entry into Mr. X's direct hideout in Chapter 17 Part 2 and then only a single chapter later staying back to fight off an entire army of Pokextinctionists. Also being able to do more damage in one attack than most of the other characters can do in several.
- Only the Worthy May Pass: Spiritus tells Brandon that Xerneas and Yveltal, the original Energy Channellers will only descend to help him once he is sufficiently worthy. When that will be, who can say.
- Out of Focus: Some of the characters that didn't make it into the Spotlight-Stealing Squad like Travis the Raichu got some of this, although they have come back in later chapters.
- Painting the Medium: When Austin the Umbreon uses Confuse Ray on Brandon, Brandon hears the names of all Austin's moves backwards.
- The Prankster: Mike is all over this trope.
- Pre-Knockout One Liner: A simple and direct one from Chapter 7:
Dustin: No! I cannot lose!
Brandon: Yes you can. (Iron Tail to the face)
- Punny Name: Larry Bellowich the Loudred.
- Word of God has confirmed that the joke of the Arcanine police officer being named Officer Johnny (when all the police officers in the Pokemon anime are named Officer Jenny) is purely accidental.
- Puppy-Dog Eyes: AB is prone to use these in attenpts to persuade Brandon, although they don't always work.
- The Quiet One: Kyle and Sakato in the main squad.
- Rage Breaking Point: Cameron's leads to a Superpowered Evil Side.
- Really 700 Years Old: Asula, who was there when Mr. X's experiment went so wrong in the first place.
- Red Baron: Rikuto Hadoryu, The Green Dragon.
- Running Gag: Brandon getting knocked out. It's been dropped in later installments, but at his peak he was going about five times a chapter.
- Also, Mike getting punched.
- Seer: See Waif Prophet.
- Ship Tease: Brandon and Starr do a lot of this.
Anyways, have you and Starr sealed the deal yet? Or are you both going to foolishly convince each other that you're just friends? I've lived with Starr for six months, and I've never seen her look at someone the way she looks at you!
- Shout-Out: Lull periods are marked with reference to them enjoying various games, films, shows etc while giving time for plot points to develop.
- The chief librarian at Long Island is a Noctowl named Mr. Lechku. *
- Sizeshifter: John the Dewott's special ability.
- Spirit Advisor: Spiritus, Brandon's Dream Messenger who meets with him at night in the Dream Dimension. Later, the spirit of Reggie takes the day shift.
- Snowclone Title: Chapter 9, of the Tropes For Dummies variety.
- Soul Jar: After Mr. X rips the souls of Brandon's friends out of their bodies through a twisted form of Energy Channelling, their souls are transferred into capsules.
- Stalker Without a Crush: AB, who follow Brandon almost everywhere. Non-threatingly though - he's a Hero-Worshipper.
- Stealth Insult: Spiritus admits that the original Pokemon referred to the developing humans as Homo Stultus.
- The Stoic: Sakato somewhat, Kyle very much so.
- Superpowered Evil Side: After all their other recent hardships, the news of the death of his mentor sends Cameron past Rage Breaking Point and he turns into a giant monstrous evil version of himself.
- Brandon may have one as well, if he uses the Total Absorption technique.
- Take a Moment to Catch Your Death: Bye bye Reggie. You almost made it back to the base.
- Teleport Spam: The X-Trio's personal teleportation equipment. The most egregious user is Mindy.
- Time to Unlock More True Potential: The Training Tower in Otium Village allows for an opportunity for some of this.
- Thirteen Is Unlucky: In a somewhat meta example, Chapter 13 turns out to be very unlucky for Reggie.
- Trying to Catch Me Fighting Dirty: A lot of Dustin of the Elite Four's strategy boils down to this, using all of his Ghost powers (and his disturbingly-uncaring attitude to his opponents' lives) to screw with them and cheat in any way he likes.
- Two Girls to a Team: Starr and Amy in the last story arc.
- Waif Prophet: The quiet and enigmatic Kyle Uchia sometimes has visions of the future. One of them is the key to proving Brandon's innocence.
- Wham Episode: Ch. 17 Part 2.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Mr. X.
- It's somewhat implied that Total Absorption can cause this too.
- The Voiceless: Giratina.
- Xanatos Gambit: Mr. X was running a very subtle one of these in Chapter 9: If the X-Trio and brainwashed prisoners defeated Brandon's team then the war would be as good as won, but if the heroes took their rescued loved ones back to the base then Ryan's deep-seated brainwashing would cause him to bring a horde of Extinctionists to Long Island.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The Pre-Mortem One-Liner before Mr. X kills Dean.
- You Shall Not Pass: Asula stops at the end of Chapter 18 Part 1 to enable Brandon to escape from Pokextinction's forces. Given her previous track record of One-Man Army, there's still a chance.
- Your Soul Is Mine: Mr. X, casually as you like, rips the souls out of Brandon's friends and then fatally consumes Dean's.
- In fact, this somewhat suggests that the fatal version of this is how Total Absorption works.
Tropes applied to many stories across the group or the group as an entity:
- Alternate History
- Author Appeal: Most people use their favourite species as the protagonist's species. The canon accounts for this - the genes in your ancestry influence your choice of favourite species.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Almost all base leaders and (naturally) Elite Four members are extremely capable fighters.
- Baleful Polymorph: Not everyone takes their transformation as well as others. If not because of the species, it's because of the fact they can't leave the base for fear of capture and torture.
- Blood Knight: Given that battling is the backbone of the games, Pokeumans often battle just for fun and training is a main focus of their schedules.
- Brainwashing: How Pokextinction builds their army.
- Butt Monkey: If Mike is the Butt Monkey of the original series, the MSN Gang are the Butt Monkey of the whole group. Pretty much any spin-off set in Long Island involves them getting their asses handed to them.
- Calling Your Attacks: Whether or not this was necessary was the subject of debate for some time. It was eventually decided that it wasn't, but most characters do it anyway.
- The Cameo: Some protagonists of early spin-offs set in Long Island went beyond cameo to becoming major characters of the original series (a possible form of Official Fan-Submitted Content). These aside, there have been a series of smaller cameos as well, and spin-offs cameo each other frequently.
- Late-Arrival Spoiler: A cameo of the Mindwalker spin-off gave away one of the spoilers of that series (namely, who killed Fang the Serperior).
- Card-Carrying Villain: Pokextinction.
- Child Soldiers: Given that Pokeumans are prone to transform in their teens, this was sadly inevitable.
- The Chosen Many: The Chosen One is not a very common trope (The Chosen Zero and The Unchosen One are much more common), but it happens sufficiently often that this trope is somewhat present.
- Combat Pragmatist: A common element of Pokeuman battles is using moves in ways other than the obvious.
- Continuation: The spin-off series, extending the group premise to all around the world.
- Continuity Snarl: In such a large Shared Universe these are inevitable, but fortunately on the whole they're only minor ones, and the vast majority are sorted before they become a problem.
- Direct Line to the Author: The events that happened to the Pokeuman characters are supposed relayed to the clones by Psychic messaging so that they think it was their own creation and write a story about it.
- Extranormal Institute: Pokeuman bases are effectively schools, but with some non-standard lessons. Pokextinction bases are the same, but with subtle brainwashing.
- Fake Memories: The clones are given full memories of the person they replace so that even they think they're the real one. When you look at it, Mr. X is running a worldwide Memory Gambit.
- Fantastic Racism: What the problem was in the first place, and certain species are still disregarded by others even within bases.
- First Law of Gender-Bending: If fate/ancestry determines that a boy will become a female-only species, he's going to become a she. This is irreversible. The reverse is also true. If a girl becomes a Nidoking then he's now stuck that way too.
- Frickin' Laser Beams: Yep, Pokextinction's got those.
- From Beyond the Fourth Wall/ The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: Secret bases, memory erasure, clone replacements: the issue is not 'this could be happening around you without you knowing' so much as 'this could have happened to you without you knowing'. See Direct Line to the Author.
- Genre Savvy: A certain amount of knowledge of the common cliches of the group is practically required to avoid your story becoming what's known as a Clone Fic (a story that just clones the original series with no real ideas of its own).
- Good Is Not Soft: Given how important battling and combat skills are, pacifism is possible but not easy.
- The Great Offscreen War: Often referred to as 'The Great War', the original conflict between people and Pokeumans. Few details are known, except for what caused it, what ended it and the fact that it went really badly for both sides involved.
- Just Woke Up That Way: Several transformees discover the beginning of their changes as they look in the mirror in the morning. Bonus points are lost if they just had a dream about being the species in question (one of the group's Pet Peeve Tropes).
- Heroes "R" Us: The Pokeumans organisation, who train students among other things to be prepared to fight Pokextinction.
- Higher-Tech Species: Pokeumans are way more technologically advanced than humans. Exhibit A: teleportation devices.
- Hollywood Genetics: Given the role that genes play in the setting of the group, there has been a little of this and a little Unscientific Science to accompany it. Fortunately, not on the level that it becomes an actual problem.
- Human Furniture Is A Pain In The Tail
- Humans Are Bastards: The entire problem originally, and still shows its ugly face nowadays.
- Humanshifting: Humanisation tech allows for Pokeumans to become human, although wearing it for too long can cause genetic mutations.
- Inter Species Romance: The original Pokemon, who had families with humans. Also any Pokeuman falling in love with any species not the same as them is technically this.
- Involuntary Shapeshifter: No-one chose this transformation, after all.
- Let Us Never Speak of This Again: The Chosen series, which everyone (including its own author) acknowledges as a perfect example of how not to do it (particularly its God-Mode Sue protagonist).
- Lotus-Eater Machine: Pokextinction has machines for this: they simulate the person's human life until an hour of (real) time has passed, by which point they are totally brainwashed.
- Made of Iron/ Healing Factor: Brandon's Energy Channelling aside, it is pretty well established canon that Pokeumans are far more resistant and recover from harm faster than normal humans do.
- Magic Genetics: Powerful ones, even by the normal standard - these hijack your entire genetic code and kick in after centuries.
- Manchurian Agent: Pokextinction uses normal people as sleeper agents: upon seeing a transforming Pokeuman they say 'You're one of them' and attempt to capture them with canisters of purple knockout gas. They then erase everyone's memory, which means you could be one.
- Masquerade: Pokeumans and Pokextinction live in societies hidden from humans, hiding in underground bases and erasing the memories of anybody unfortinate enough to discover the secret.
- Meaningful Name: The Pokeumans, and Pokextinction.
- Mind-Control Eyes: Brainwashed Extinctionists have glazed over grey eyes.
- Mutant Draft Board: Joining either the Pokeumans or Pokextinction is mandatory for a transformee (let's all hope they join the right one), but this isn't enforced by The Government as in other versions of this trope. The reason that it's mandatory in this series is that quite simply if the public knew these transformations were happening they would freak out.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Don't mess with Pokextinction.
- Omniscient Council of Vagueness: The Dream messengers often serve as this (given that they're all linked through the Board). Don't expect straight answers in a hurry.
- Psychic Dreams for Everyone: And we mean everyone, to the point of becoming a Pet Peeve Trope.
- Recursive Fanfiction
- Fan Verse: And a big one. As of December 2014 the group has over six-hundred members, although most of them no longer active.
- Red Baron/ Superhero Sobriquets: Other characters that have acquired heroic titles within or from around the group include:
- Replacement Goldfish: The clones.
- Retcon: Originally it was Brandon's Energy Chanelling abilities that meant he could recieve messages in the Dream Dimension, but this was changed and now it's open to all.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: You could find pretty much point you liked on the scale somewhere in the group gallery. Most series are more idealistic, but depending on how much of the dramatic/tragic aspects of the premise the author brought out you could find anything on the cynical end from Mind Rape to Kill 'em All.
- Shared Universe
- Slow Transformation: It takes a full week.
- Sparse List of Rules: The 'Things Not To Do In A Pokeuman Base' list, a comedy Affectionate Parody of Skippy's List that builds with each update.
- Spell My Name with an "S": The spelling of Larry the Loudred MC's surname varies depending on the series: variations include Belowitch, Bellowhich and Bellowich.
- Spirit Advisor: A common trope, albeit quite cliched if they don't actually do anything helpful.
- They Look Like Us Now: See Humanshifting.
- Tomato in the Mirror: The small number of spin-offs that have had the clone realise their true nature have had one of these moments, and usually a bout of Cloning Blues. Fortunately, the group is pretty acknowledging that Clones Are People Too.
- Villain Protagonist: There have been a few spin-offs focusing on members of Pokextinction, although they usually realise what is is that they're doing and break away.
- You Can't Go Home Again: See Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: much personal drama and angst has been brought out in multiple series over this issue.