Sometimes, we hear about a character who doesn't really line up with the way they've been described, whether it be their abilities or their personality. Sometimes, though, this information all comes from a second character who is simply amazed at this character. They sing their praises, gushing their little hearts out. Okay, that's all well and good, Mister Fervent Admirer, but why are you praising them so openly?
This is what is known as Character Shilling. Whether it be an attempt to make us like the character, a way of quickly establishing that someone new is a badass a level above anything we've seen before or whatever the case may be, other people will be extremely impressed with this person and let we the viewers know about it. Whether they actually match up to the hype is optional. Sometimes they really are amazing, and sometimes we have ourselves a case of Informed Ability. Or worse, Creator's Pet.
Remember, it's only really shilling when we don't know why such praise and admiration is being given. If they've already shown they can back it up, it probably doesn't count.
This trope does have some useful functions. Sometimes shilling can be used to build suspense for a character who has yet to appear (or whose abilities have yet to be shown), in order to make a climactic scene where we see the truth behind all those stories all the more powerful. Other times, it can be used to build up a character who never appears at all, either to serve as an inspiration or a foil to the main cast. Sometimes the credentials of The Rival will be established through shilling, especially when their reputation (and the hero's efforts to compete with it) is more important to the story than their actual abilities. Shilling can also be used to show that the character doing it is a (distressingly) obsessive fan.
Compare Informed Attribute, Informed Ability and Creator's Pet, the last of which is what happens when this goes wrong and the fans just end up hating the shilled character. May lead to Stop Worshipping Me if it's to the person's face and they're more modest. A character who shills himself in-universe may be a Fake Ultimate Hero or Miles Gloriosus. If it's a one off shill of their secret identity of some kind it's But He Sounds Handsome.
Not to Be Confused withCharacter Shill, which is about fictional characters advertising real-life products during their own shows.
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Anime and Manga
Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam shills former villain turned Anti-Hero protagonist, Char Aznable like no tomorrow about what a great, noble guy he is when his past actions in Mobile Suit Gundam shows that he's really not, as do his future ones in Char's Counterattack. As well as how he's such an awesome pilot when he's spent most of the series getting hit by The Worf Effect. Even his speech at Dakar, which is supposed to be so good that it captures the attention of every Federation politician there and convinces a Titan pilot to switch sides, boils down to pointing out that even Dakarnote the capital of the Federation is undergoing desertification and that humanity needs to stop it.
Early The World God Only Knows shills Haqua as being amazing, but it's actually part of an obvious setup to show that despite how talented she is the only one she's fooling is Elsie. She's been unable to get any results after graduating and is pretty depressed. Eventually, she does end up deserving her reputationnote when you take into account that she's a low level supervisor who has just graduated high school and is thus about the equivalent of 18].
Cynthia does this with Paul in Pokémon, who acts like a jerk to everyone and abuses his Pokemon in order to make them stronger, outright abandoning the ones who he finds to be a waste of time, and yet she refers to him as a "great trainer", who just clashes with Ash because of "different methods", rather than because, well, he's a jerk. Averted, however, with Pyramid King Brandon who hands Paul what is probably his first big loss in the series at that point while calling him out on his training methods.
Touma, the main character of Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force, was fairly bland in the first few chapters, up until it was revealed that he was the adopted little brother of Subaru, a far more popular character. While it's shown how they met, it doesn't quite show how they became so close, and the two don't even interact for a long while. It's just to say 'hey, Subaru likes him!' to the reader. It gets more obvious later on, when it's shown that other characters like Nanoha know and like him too, which happened entirely off-screen.
Inazuma Eleven actually managed to subvert this one. When the team first set out to find and meet Fubuki, several characters start discussing rumors about what an amazingly strong and talented person he is, some of which are so over the top (such as "Fubuki the bear-killer") that they're likely parodying this trope. Everyone is quite surprised when they actually meet him and he's nothing like what they expected.
Fubuki: Oh, are you disappointed after seeing the real thing?
Maybe while she was absent everyone kinda forgot about how abrasive she is...
In Gundam SEED Destiny Heine Westenfluss is set up as an ace pilot like Athrun as well as charming and a really nice guy. Unfortunately, he doesn't get a chance to live up to his extreme reputation since he dies too soon. The fact that he spends most of his screentime lecturing Athrun about how he should just ignore his doubts and do his job doesn't help.
He's more of a foil to Athrun given his short role.
In Naruto, ever since the truth of his actions was made known, many characters have been heaping praise on Itachi. Whether or not he deserves it is heavily debatable (he did horrible things in the name of defending his home and maintaining peace). It usually isn't too bad, but it gets weird when even the freaking First Hokage says that Itachi is a better shinobi than he is, and the Third Hokage says that he had Kage-level wisdom at the age of seven. Even Sasuke and Naruto, whose lives have been made significantly worse by his actions, shill the guy like nobody's business.
During the Ten-tails-arc, many characters went out of their way to express how awesome Sakura became, and how she finally caught up to Sasuke and Naruto. While she got to make an memorable showcase of her powers, it doesn't last long before she's easily beaten by a villain or thrown back into the background, and it really wasn't any more impressive than what other members of the Konoha 12 had shown- all of whom were completely ignored by those characters.
A number of powerful wizards in Fairy Tail do live up to their hype. Particularly the ones who are given the title of Wizard Saint, or are the rarely seen allies of the main guild. However, most of the one-off villains are given quick hype to make them seem more threatening, and generally it's only the Arc Villain who manages to match whatever the other characters claim about their power.
It's been widely joked that Kyle got shilled specifically because DC were pissed off that fans (rightfully) saw how The Death of Superman and Azraelbecoming Batman were temporary plotlines. DC were deadset that Kyle would stick, hence the shilling. However, Grant Morrison refused to give Kyle the same treatment in JLA. Yes, most of the team respected him, but he had to work to really be seen as something more than a rookie. And The Flash was open about his initial dislike of Kyle and it took a good amount of character development for them to become friends. As a result, Kyle Rayner grew his own crop of decidedly enthusiastic and loyal fans...
Invoked in The Flash comics for Barry Allen after his return to life. Writer Geoff Johns acknowledged that people who haven't read any story with Barry in it before (anyone who started reading comics after the Crisis, which is to say, anyone under 30), will see him as a Replacement Scrappy for Wally, so his first priority in the Flash: Rebirth miniseries was to sell Barry to newer readers. The first issue of Rebirth is mostly scenes of every single major superhero in the DCU talking about how awesome Barry is, save for Kid Flash, who refuses to accept him because he's not the one he grew up with, essentially making him their Straw Fan. The panel cited most often is one where it is said that crime has gone up drastically since Barry's death... despite Wally being much faster than Barry.
Post-Crisis, Lois Lane got a lot of free shilling from most characters having anything to do with her. They would praise Clark Kent for having such a wonderful wife, and Superman would also rave about how great a woman she was.
Occurs in regards to the character of Carlie Cooper in the Spider-Man comics. Much is made about how great a person she is, how perfect not only is she for Peter, but how perfect she is in general. Unfortunately, this sort of shilling has done little to endear her character to the general fanbase, as her positive character traits come off more as an informed ability while her more negative character traits are overlooked. And did we mention she's named after the daughter of the guy who pushed One More Day?
When Faith got added to the Justice League during the "Age of Obsidian" arc, she was a completely unknown character. Predictably, her arrival was accompanied by other characters mentioning how powerful or friendly she was. The rapid acceptance was justified with the revelation that she has the subconscious ability to inspire trust in others.
The Sentry's entire character was based on this; supposedly, he was an amazing hero who debuted in the Silver Age and did a lot of really awesome things before being erased by Cosmic Retcon. This was pretty clever in his original miniseries, but his addition to the mainstream comics ended up running the joke so thin it wasn't even a joke anymore. When he finally kicked the bucket to much rejoicing, everyone in the Marvel Universe showed up to his funeral to talk about how he'd always been there for them and he was a really great guy, nervously skirting around all the times he was useless, whiny, and homicidal.
Captain America is one of the few characters who can (usually) get away with this without audiences rolling their eyes. It's fine for all the other characters to talk about how awesome and heroic he is, because that's like 90% of his character. He was chosen for the Super Soldier project because everyone who spent five minutes with him knew that, despite his physical shortcomings, he was a clever and intelligent young man with a good heart who just wanted to help others.
JLA: Act of God is infamous for having depowered superheroes gushing about how great Batman is because he has always been fighting crimes without powers... yet isn't the sole Badass Normal in the league. To add insult to the injury, in this story, Batman is a huge arrogant jerk who only helps a group of depowered heroes only after they come to him.
More so with Johnny, who is extremely successful at his job and is constantly described as a paragon of compassion and selflessness who does nothing to provoke Lisa's actions. Needless to say Johnny is played by the movie's writer/director/producer.
One criticism of Pearl Harbor is the way that many characters gush over Rafe's skill as a pilot. From what we see, Rafe isn't much better than the best friend who sings his praises the whole movie. He's made out to be a noble hero by everyone, including Jimmy Doolittle and an RAF Pilot who tells him that if there are others like him where Rafe comes from then, by god, America will kick the world's ass. Makes you wonder why Randall Wallace didn't stretch the movie by another hour so Rafe could join up with the Flying Tigers and the likes of Claire Chennault and Ed Rector could gush over him some more.
Mercilessly parodied in Monty Python and the Holy Grail by Sir Robin's Minstrel, who keeps gushing in song about "Brave Sir Robin" (despite repeated commands to shut up) while Sir Robin is trying to avoid picking a fight, and goes on gushing about it even after Sir Robin has fled in abject cowardice.
Minstrel: Brave Sir Robin ran away!
Minstrel: Bravely ran away, away.
Robin: I didn't!
Minstrel: When danger reared its ugly head,
He bravely turned his tail and fled.
Minstrel: Yes, brave Sir Robin turned about,
Robin: I didn't!
Minstrel: And gallantly he chickened out.
Bravely taking to his feet,
Robin: I never did!
Minstrel: He beat a very brave retreat.
Robin: All lies!
Minstrel: Oh, bravest of the braaave, Sir Robin!
Robin: I never!
A villainous example: Bane is treated as a Memetic Badass by Alfred in The Dark Knight Rises. At that point in the movie, all he'd really done is rob a bank. It was a daring, well-executed bank heist, sure. (Although some of the machinations involved fall apart under scrutiny.) But he's hardly "like nothing you've ever faced before" when he's following an act like The Dark Knight's Joker.
This is, more or less, the only way that the twomaincharacters in the Left Behind series ever interact with non-main characters. It's either Buck and Rayford are thinking about how special they are and what a privilege it is for the rest of their unnamed co-workers and friends to associate with them, or it's these unnamed co-workers and friends gushing about them. This can be seen as the authors ignoring the Show, Don't Tell method of storytelling, merely telling us how earnest, passionate, and sincere their characters are rather than actually showing any of these qualities.
Not to mention NicolaeCarpathia. The narrator constantly talks about how enthralled he is at the man's "genius" speeches and "complete charm". The speeches he gives, though, mostly consist of random facts and dates connected by childish analysis that would fail as high school reports.
Also, he gives a speech that involves NAMING EVERY COUNTRY IN THE UNITED NATIONS. The delegates are of course wowed by his oratory skills and give him a standing ovation.
Parodied and Played for Laughs in the firsttwoDiscworld novels. Rincewind is the most incompetent and cowardly wizard on the Disc, even to the point that he can't spell the word right. His companion Twoflower, however, thinks he's the mightiest magician who ever lived. This really gets on Rincewind's nerves, especially when he's going on about what a mighty warrior he is, and all the wizzard wants to do is run far, far away.
S.D. Perry's novelizations of the Resident Evil series go to extraordinary lengths to sell readers on how smart, brave, tough, smart, gifted, smart and really, reallysmart Rebecca Chambers is, despite her scientific knowledge never rising above what anyone who paid attention in junior-high chemistry would already know. Every sympathetic character, even the protagonists from the actual games, gets at least one inner monologue describing how fiercely independent, resourceful and intelligent she is, and she becomes the star of two original novels where she basically saves the world singlehandedly while riding atop a massive, cresting wave of adulation from the other characters. Keep in mind these books were written before the 2002 REmakechanged Rebecca's characterization into that of a well-grounded and very stressed-out young woman in way over her head, so Perry's only source of inspiration for her genius Mary Sue version was the obliviously cheerful dingbat from the 1996 original.
Can be applied to any of the main cast in Twilight. We're told how wonderful Edward and the Cullens are (from Bella's POV anyway), but their actions and behavior throughout the series suggest anything but.
This trope applies to Bella as well. Everyone always talks about how amazing and special she is, but from our perspective she's really done nothing to deserve this unending praise.
In the final book of The Wheel of Time, Elayne is chosen to be in charge of the armies of light. She was the perfect choice, a wonderful leader, and did a great job. We know this, not because we see any examples of her leadership, but because at least once a chapter someone comes up to her and tells her what a wonderful leader she is and how glad they are that she was chosen to be in charge.
Katniss' father and sister have strong elements of this in The Hunger Games and Peeta is a mild case as well. The book is told from Katniss' perspective. Her father died years ago and she only remembers him as a saint, forgetting or ignoring his bad qualities. She adores her baby sister and is very protective of her and can't imagine anyone not loving her. As for Peeta, the elements of shilling with regards to him are subtle clues that she's falling in love with him.
Taken Up to Eleven with Zoey Redbird in The House of Night books. Nyx chose her because she is supposedly wise beyond her years, is a fount of empathy and compassion, and is well versed in both the old ways and the modern world. She has an instant fanclub of people that serve mainly to ooh and ahh over how wonderful she is, men fall at her feet in droves because of how beautiful and awesome she supposedly is, and she gets new tattoos and praise for her bravery from Nyx anytime she takes care of whatever problem is plaguing her that particular book. Actually reading the book shows us that she's a stupid, shallow, judgmental, hypocrite that doesn't do much of anything except bemoan her boyfriend problems until the authors decide that something needs to happen so the book can end.
In The Fault in Our Stars we are constantly told what nice and special people Gus and Hazel are and how their love is way beyond mere puppy love. Their actual behavior, however, never suggests they're nicer or better than anyone else and their romance reads as two hormonal teenagers mistaking attraction for love. It turns rather comical when Gus makes a huge deal over how special and unique Hazel is because she likes to read.
Babylon 5: Had a Lower Deck Episode in its last season, featuring a couple of maintenance workers who end up praising new character Captain Lochley and telling her that she was OK in their book. Apparently, both of the two "little guys" were openlyAuthor Avatars.
Bones: In the sixth season, for the character of Hannah Burley there is constant reinforcement of her beauty, talent and intelligence. While she is attractive, she's actually about as interesting as raw vegetables when she first appears and in every scene she appears for the 7 episodes of her arch. Other popular characters in the show (including Angela, who is the only character who openly admitted to hating Hannah - in a deleted scene) constantly refer to Hannah and Dr Brennan as being "friends", although the scenes depicting their "friendship" seem awkward at best (especially one scene in which Hannah makes Brennan give her her sunglasses). Many fans found it frustrating, and it certainly didn't make the character any more likable.
Criminal Minds did this a couple of times, starting right from the pilot, which spends a lot of time talking up Jason Gideon to the obvious annoyance of Morgan and exasperation of Hotch.
Two seasons later, when Gideon left the show, his replacement David Rossi got talked up as another 'legendary' profiler. Like Gideon, he quickly proved himself worthy of the praise but not without flaws.
In fact, the only time the shilling wound up trumpeting an Informed Ability was with Ashley Seaver, whose supposedly-exceptional academy scores are mentioned repeated in spite of her tendency to point out the obvious and make bad decisions in the field. This did not help her Base Breaker status.
Degrassi: This happens quite a bit with Mia during Season 8, much to Holly J's (and many fans') annoyance. The character was seen by many as being unrealistic, but the showrunners kept trying to portray her as amazing. One episode focusing on another character's attempts to woo her was even titled "Uptown Girl" after the Billy Joel song (at that point, the show was still all of its episodes after 80's songs), as if to remind the audience how obviously desirable and amazing Mia supposedly was.
One particularly Egregious example was in Degrassi Takes Manhattan, when Jay was telling Spinner that Emma wouldn't screw him over like Jane did. Because Emma NEVER cheated on anybody. It's especially perplexing that Jay would talk Emma up like this, because a few years ago, she prostituted herself to him. For rubber bracelets.
Then there's Alli Bhandari, who's treated like a brilliant, honest, funny girl who any guy would want, despite being shallow, pretentious, and doing just about everything a girl should never do, even things that in the past have ruined characters' reputation (she even once considered prostitution in an attempt at revenge). However, the big leap was only recently, when she blew off a guy because he had a baby, and then had a fling in Paris while completely ignoring him.
Doctor Who: Rose Tyler is often seen this way. The Doctor and Captain Jack would gush about how special she was... though a few fans would argue that there was very little evidence of this and considered her a Canon Sue.
And to some fans, the shilling got worse even after she left the show with Martha, the next companion leaving because she felt as though she couldn't compare to the Tenth Doctor's memories of Rose, Rose returning to help save the entire universe in the next season and finally, being chosen as a visual interface by the Moment in the 50th anniversary because she (of all the Doctor's companions, past and present) held the most significance to him.
Everybody Loves Raymond: Showrunners gradually became aware that the conflict between Debra and Marie was polling well with certain key demographics, and began playing up this conflict to the point where it became the show's new focus, and became intent on shilling Debra as much as humanly possible (while Marie was an elderly lady who represented a Periphery Demographic, Debra was an attractive soccer mom who could be more easily marketed as "relatable" to the Baby Boomers who made up the show's core audience). To that end, the show began making her Progressively Prettier and began portraying her as being always right, even when she clearly wasn't (whenever she resorted to physical and emotional abuse against her husband, the show always portrayed it as a You Go Girl moment). They also began trying to make her husband more doofus-like, in order to make her seem more sympathetic (instead, it ended up being a Base Breaker; their tactics worked on a portion of the audience, who think she's a saint, but the rest find Debra to be a smug and utterly annoying Karma Houdini who gets away with domestic abuse on her husband thanks to a Double Standard). Her descent into Sue-dom has been a point of contention among the fanbase ever since.
Friends: Rachel. Other characters consistently talk about how beautiful and sexy she is, about her bravery in making it on her own, her being a 'career woman' and later how she's a great mother. Three regular characters are Devoted to You towards her at different parts in the series, and want nothing more than to be with her. She's not noticeably more attractive than Monica or Phoebe (just more into her looks), she's no more dedicated to her career than most of the gang and actually seems lazy in comparison to Ross and Monica, her mothering skills are laughable at best and neglectful at worst. And truthfully as a girlfriend she's extremely difficult to please so why so many men are crazy about her is confusing.
The praises of her 'making it on her own' are the worst offenders. She did admirably abandon her spoiled life but it's worth remembering that she waited until she was twenty five years old, had wasted a college education, dragged a guy along until he was standing at the altar, and spent her father's money on a ridiculously fancy wedding, before deciding to do this. Plus she then has five people running around helping her 'do it alone'. Of these other five people, Phoebe survived on the streets from the age of 14, Chandler has been taking care of himself since he was a teenager because of his neglectful parents, Monica fought for everything she got against an emotionally abusive mother and demanded nothing from anyone else and Joey rebelled against his entire family to become an actor. Rachel's 'independence' and 'bravery' doesn't look all that impressive.
General Hospital: Brenda Barrett can fit into this. When she's not in Port Charles (and even when she is there), characters are constantly singing her praises. Both men and women rave about how beautiful she is and how perfect she is, and most every heroine on the show is compared to her and told how they will never measure up to her. Not to mention she's been designated as the soulmate to two different men on the show. Brenda however is far from a perfect person, and her returns usually result in the ruination of a few relationship. But almost nobody has anything bad to say about her, and anyone who does is vilified for it.
Glee: Increasingly, the show treats Will and Finn this way — particularly, other characters stand around gushing about how talented, good-hearted, and attractive they both are.
One of the complaints about the first half of the Season 2 was that this went on a lot with Kurt Hummel in spite of sometimes treating his friendsrather cruelly. This culminated in "Furt" which was a whole episode of Kurt-shilling. This was the episode where his dad and Finn's mom got married, and yet everything was about Kurt. Finn's best man speech and even the parents' wedding vows were all about Kurt. Thankfully they let off on it after that, but did so by sending Kurt to Dalton.
Other characters constantly talk up Blaine as a talented, attractive dreamboat; especially in Season 3.
Rachel Berry swims in an unending sea of this. Every character, even those who are rightfully put off by how incredibly self-centred and rude she is, fall over themselves to talk about how her singing voice is flawless, miraculous, the greatest thing they have ever heard, how she is destined to be a shining star. It even takes bald-faced Character Shilling from Tina to persuade the dean of Rachel's dream school to give her a second audition... after Rachel completely screwed her first one.
To Rachel's credit, she does have enough personality and talent to back up the claims. Marley Rose on the other hand makes you think everyone is on some sort of drug considering that everyone talks up about how amazing she is. Yet she is as thick as two short planks, gets everything with no effort, Sue - yes Sue - cannot say a bad thing about her, is made to be uber-special within the Glee club for no reason, has the personality of a wet blanket, a complete waste of screen-time, and has two guys chasing after for no reason other that she is pretty.
Gossip Girl: With regards to Dan Humphrey. Especially grating in the series finale. Throughout the series Gossip Girl has stalked them, outed their secrets, caused them trouble, humiliated them and all in all been an element of their lives that they've all complained about and wanted to see and end to. When they find out Gossip Girl is Dan everyone suddenly thinks s/he made their lives better and that no real harm was done even though a lot of harm was done.
The show began to do this in season 5 with Don. He was introduced as "the guy Robin would inevitably marry," but his subsequent appearances paint him as annoying and flawed. However, once he started showing romantic interest in Robin, he met the group and suddenly Marshall does not stop gushing about him. We don't see their interactions, but Marshall opens by saying that he is "smart, handsome and funny". This is jarring because two episodes ago we were supposed to hate the guy.
At the same time that was going on, Barney was flanderized into a supreme womanizer who scored with every girl he hit on... and the rest of the cast inexplicably became his enthusiastic cheerleaders, even though in earlier seasons they'd only kind of put up with it and even expressed occasional disgust at some of Barney's slimier methods. They rooted for Barney every time he hit on a girl, actively helped him out at one point, and celebrated every time he scored (they did a lot of celebrating). It was as if the writers were desperately telling their viewers, "See? See? See how much better Barney is as an exaggerated caricature of himself than when he was paired with Robin?"
This is Deconstructed in a later episode when it's revealed that Robin was actually very hurt when Barney scored girls, and upset when the group cheered him on. In flashbacks, she's shown watching the original scene with a blank face, then quickly ducking into a private space to cry.
And then the wedding arc showed that Barney maturing enough to commit to Robin is a very good thing, with the gang just as enthusiastic about it as they were about his antics. It also implies what would've happened if Barney hadn't matured and gotten married, using his brother James, who is Barney's gay (and black) counterpart; James gets a divorce because he can't stop sleeping around, and is briefly consumed by self-loathing.
Revolution: Done by Nora on behalf of Charlie, just in case we had forgotten how "special" she is. In fact, Miles can't ever seem to call her out on being an Idiot Hero without being seen as a bastard. Fortunately, Charlie hasn't received any shilling for many episodes now, so it's not as extreme as some other examples listed here.
By the latter half of season 2, Scott's line telling Young, "You are a good commander!" was added to every episode intro, apparently in an attempt to convince the audience of just that. He wasn't.
Scott himself. He's constantly touted on being a great leader, really gets around and the creators even called him the "Jack O'Neill of ten years ago." Fans countered that the comparison doesn't work because we actually like Jack.
In one particularly glaring example from a first-season episode, a Sufficiently Advanced Alien known as "The Traveler" stopped-in seemingly for the exclusive purpose of telling the crew how wonderful Wesley was. While Wesley hadn't quite become a Creator's Pet by that point, further treatment along these lines ended up as one of the most definitive examples of Creator's Pet. He is, in fact, the formerTrope Namer for both Creator's Pet (The Wesley) and this trope (Shilling the Wesley).
Another TNG example, "The Outrageous Okona", did nothing actually outrageous except taking advantage of his incredibly hyped reputation as a wild maverick man of action to get laid. Popular with the ladies, but not with the fans, who largely consider him a joke.
In-universe, the Zakdorn. The species relies on their reputation as master strategists, which has ensured that nobody ever dared to fight them. Characters who meet one on TNG are less than impressed with his abilities.
The episode "Peak Performance" actually manages to invert this for the guest-star Kolrami. The entirety of the episode consists of the entire cast attempting to hammer into the viewer how "smug" he is supposed to be, but in reality, every crewmember of the Enterprise spent the entire episode being far more obnoxious and smug than he ever acts.
Survivor: Rob. Also, Russell. The reunion for Redemption Island was especially terrible, essentially being an hour of "Isn't Rob awesome?" in between talking to Russell and asking if he'd return, or asking if Phillip was that crazy. Many fans cheered just because the worst season of Survivor finally ended, and with the thoughts that Rob would finally go away. He and Russell still get mentions every season thereafter.
The Wire: A lot of characters in the third season comment on just how bad and cold Marlo Stanfield is, actually saying that he's "for real". As it turns out, he really is.
Charmed: The Charmed Ones as a collective count in later seasons; they become increasingly focused on their own lives away from magic and forsake their own destiny, and openly state that saving lives has become a chore, all the while the forces of good love and revere them - often making mention of their selflessness. They do get called on it several times, but always by demons and/or explicitly evil characters the audience isn't meant to side with. Coincidentally, they only started to act like this around Season 5, when two of the three leads became Executive Producers.
Warhammer 40,000 does this so often it is hardly notable, with every faction update portraying said faction as mighty and unstoppable and everyone else should tremble at their very presence, purposefully to sell more models. However the Space Marines, especially the Ultramarines receive a ridiculous amount of shilling even by these standards. The 5th Edition codex changed them from the "standard" Space Marine chapter, whose main characteristic was being a jack of all trades, to the epitome of Imperial virtue and the pinnacle to which all other Space Marine chapters aspire to emulate. The codex being mostly written by a confessed Ultramarine fanboymight have had something to do with it.
Here's a fun exercise for Horde players in World of Warcraft: While leveling to the cap, keep track of the number of NPCs you encounter who refer to Garrosh Hellscream as a master tactician or military genius. This would probably not be so aggravating if he ever actually displayed any of his supposed skill, but usually we're just told about it and the times we actually see him in action he's incompetent at best (notably, he sends the player character on a Suicide Mission in Borean Tundra, and his attempt to ambush the Alliance in Twilight Highlands backfires spectacularly when Deathwing shows up with a fleet of Twilight dragons and wrecks the now-defenseless Horde fleet). And to add insult to injury you then incite an insurrection against the Dragonmaw by...talking about how awesome Garrosh is.
It's made even worse that in Wrath of the Lich King, while in the Dragonblight zone, you get a letter from Saurfang stating how Garrosh's tactics are working and that it's winning over the support of the greater Horde. This can come almost immediately after the aforementioned suicide mission in Borean Tundra, where Garrosh's incompetence is laid bare for you to see. It was at this point many players began to realize Garrosh was being propped up less by his in-universe merit and more for the narrative sake of the Conflict Ball.
As for the Alliance, Varian Wrynn has had some shilling done for him as well. It started with the Retcon that he drove Onyxia out of Stormwind rather than the players, but it became especially egregious in Mists of Pandaria. For example the scenario, A Little Patience, has him coming up with a better tactic for fighting the Horde than Tyrande Whisperwind, even though she has THOUSANDS OF YEARS MORE EXPERINCE AT WARFARE THAN HIM.
By the time of BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend, Makoto Nanaya has been enjoying quite a bit shilling for someone who's just minding her own business rather than taking part of the plot actively. Hazama considers her a Spanner in the Works, Relius Clover becomes obsessed with her apparent 'strong soul', as he described, and the one moment she met the resident snobby bitch Rachel... the latter wasn't even being snobby and instead praising her like hell. Whether she lived up to the shilling is for the sequel to report.
Played with in the Metal Gear series. All the characters comment on how legendary a hero Solid Snake is, and despite being able to live up to his reputation, Snake constantly insists that he is anything but a hero.
Inverted in the Monkey Island series. Guybrush wants to be recognized by everybody for his "success" in defeating Le Chuck and constantly boasts about how heroic he is for it. The problem? Nobody else gives a damn. He eventually gets so accustomed to this that, in Tales of Monkey Island, he's stunned that Morgan LeFlay actually has heard of him and his exploits.
Grunt: Don't listen to this fossil. The only thing he can defeat is a glass of warm milk.
Tales of Xillia: Milla is often lavished with praise by the others, Jude most of all. In many scenes, they remark on her courageousness, her strength, and her beauty. In the latter half of the game, Rowen and the others each remark about how she inspires them and say they feel motivated whenever she's with them. The gamer, however, may not see those qualities, making much of it seem undeserved.
Played for dark humor during the fifth and sixth chapter of Umineko no Naku Koro ni where the narration and everyone keep going on about Erika Furudo. The problem is that there's so much gushing because it's Lambdadelta's script and she's also callous and an incredible bitch. She does end up satisfying her reputation. But she's still a bitch.
Red String's Yosue Makoto is two people: the one that everyone praises and the one that we are actually shown. The Makoto people speak highly over is a persistent, self-sacrificing "flirty goofball." The Makoto that we see, however, is shown time and time again to be opportunistic, jealous and rather unhealthily obsessed when it comes to his "devotion" to the object of his affection, Miharu.
Central Control: The fifth Sailor Scout will show up soon.
Luna: Oh good, we could use the help.
Central Control: No, trust me, you don't want this one.
Owen on Total Drama Island. Most of his accomplishments are either a) based on dumb luck or b) somehow related to eating, yet everybody keeps praising him for them. In the first episode of Total Drama Action, for example, he manages to avoid being caught by the monster simply because he's too fat to pick up, then eats a bunch of fake food because he wouldn't just stop and listen to Chris tell him it was fake. But by coincidence he happened to burp out the key they were supposed to find, and immediately we get confessional scenes of other characters praising him.
Notably averted during the following seasons. In World Tour, he is openly mocked by several other characters and made into a Butt Monkey while his brief appearance in Revenge of the Island ends with him being mocked some more and then blown up. He isn't even a contestant in the fifth season.
Played for Laughs during the infamous "Poochie" episode. When pitching the character, Homer talks about putting extra emphasis on the new character by suggesting that, whenever he's not onscreen, other characters should be asking, "Where's Poochie?" When the episode actually airs, Itchy and Scratchy's very few lines center on how awesome Poochie is.
A series-wide example. Marge is often shilled as being a wonderful mother when she's in fact emotionally abusive and almost as bad as Homer. Sometimes she looks better by comparison but she's most certainly not the Mother of the Year most characters say she is.
A 1985 Betty Boop cartoon titled "The Romance Of Betty Boop" takes this to the extreme, with people gushing about how wonderful Betty is as she walks down the street. Yes, it's every bit as cringe-inducing as it sounds.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold tends to go back and forth with treating Batman like the greatest human who ever lived, and actually putting him on even standings with who ever the character of the day. At its worst you get examples like "The Music Meister" where every superhero sing about how jealous of Batman they are.