Deconstructed Character Archetype
Deconstructing a trope involves taking an existing trope, playing it straight and examining the likely/realistic consequences or implications of that trope that tend to be ignored by straight examples of it. This trope does the same thing, but for fictional character archetypes. One way to do this is to take a familiar character type and place the character in a realistic setting, and then explore what happens as a result of the character being Wrong Genre Savvy. Another is to explore likely facets of the character's personality or background that straight examples of the trope tend to overlook. This can also be done as part of a Genre Deconstruction, if certain character archetypes are closely associated with a particular genre. A particularly interesting (and decidedly meta) way to do this is by taking an actor known only for playing certain kinds of roles and casting them in a role which deconstructs that character type. Note, however, that an actor deconstructing their established persona or character type is not automatically an example of this trope, unless their persona is a recognizable character archetype in its own right. As a rule of thumb, examples of this trope should be deconstructions of character archetypes which already have their own trope pages (The Hero, The Lancer, Anti-Villain etc.), unless the character archetype is no longer in current use (Discredited Trope, Forgotten Trope etc.). A subtrope of both Deconstruction and Deconstructed Trope (insofar as character archetypes are tropes in their own right). Compare Wrong Genre Savvy and Playing with Character Type. See also Deconstruction.
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Anime and Manga
- Light Yagami of Death Note is one for the Shōnen hero archetype: a young, justice-loving Chaste Hero (a narcissistic Knight Templar with delusions of godhood) who discovers magical powers (a notebook that can be used to instantly murder anybody) and gains a Spirit Buddy (an amoral embodiment of death), makes a Worthy Opponent rival (a detective trying to apprehend him for his crimes) and picks up a persistent Genki Girl love interest (a vapid pop idol who's fanatically obsessed with him and, despite barely knowing him, is instantly willing to kill for, die for and marry him).
- Eren Yeagar of Attack on Titan has all the usual tropes of a Shonen action protagonist. Full of uncontrollable emotions? Check. Clueless idiot who has no sense of strategy? Check. Fights using only will power. Check. However, all these tropes are portrayed realistically with several negative consequences. While determination is necessary for combat, blindly attacking enemies head-on is a great way to ruin any clever plans that would minimize casualties. If anything, Eren himself can be blamed for causing needless deaths and hurting his team.
- Alucard from Hellsing is this for the Invincible Hero archetype. He's an immortal Sociopathic Hero able to survive near-total bodily destruction and few if any situations ever credibly threaten him. At first, it appears that the Major's plan simply involves starting a war with London. However, it's eventually revealed that there's ALOT more to it than that. The point of his plan is to get Alucard down to a form where he's vulnerable enough to finally die. Starting a war and taking London down are pretty much just bonuses.
- Half of Neon Genesis Evangelion's characters are first presented as classic anime stereotypes of the Humongous Mecha genre, but as the series progresses they are revealed to be extremely messed-up individuals whose behavior is an endless source of troubles. Most of the series involves exploring just what sort of mental issues such characters would develop.
- School Days begins like a typical Harem Anime, with the average looking protagonist, suddenly gaining the attention of many cute girls at his high school. However, unlike other shows that play it for laughs, this show gives the viewer a realistic example of what can happen when a boy suddenly starts getting with different girls and the psychological damage that it can cause. The protagonist seeing the girls as nothing but sex objects. To the girls that really care about the protagonist getting mentally damaged by his behavior. So much so that one could be forced to commit murder.
- School Rumble deconstructs different high school romance character archetypes.
- Harima is the delinquent hero whose life is changed when he falls in love with Tenma. It's only then does he realize how pointless his life has been so he decides to be a manga artist.
- Tenma hides her loneliness by being the Genki Girl.
- Yakumo seems like a Yamato Nadeshiko but really she's an Extreme Doormat.
- Eri's Tsundere qualities alienate people.
- Nara is a Ridiculously Average Guy who expects to get an Unwanted Harem, but never does.
- Ueno in Koe No Katachi shows the painful results of being a Tsundere. She likes Ishida but her Can't Spit It Out tendencies confuse him and her abrasive attitude only pushes him away. Her failure to properly talk to him leaves her frustrated and angry which she channels by lashing out at the world and bullying Nishimiya - which only pushes Ishida further away.
- One-Punch Man has the hero Saitama who is so strong that he can defeat all his opponents with just one punch. However, this causes him to be bored and depressed as he feels there are no challenges for him and what he really desires is someone who can give him a good fight.
- A rather sad version of Genki Girl is shown in School-Live!. Yuki is so cheerful and optimistic that her mind outright refuses to see how gloomy and depressing the situation is, to the point of hallucinating that the rest of the students are fine and there is no Zombie Apocalypse. Her cute, eccentric personality caused her to be bullied prior to the apocalypse. Her Nice Hat in particular was considered weird by others.
- Watchmen. The comic book as a whole is a deconstruction of various Super Hero archetypes and tropes. Alan Moore wrote the characters of Rorschach and the Comedian as sociopathic jerks, deconstructing the Batman-style Anti-Hero. Ironically enough, he ended up popularizing it instead, which led to the rise of the Nineties Anti-Hero.
- Cyclops is the fearless rebel leader who's been trained his whole life to fight for mutantkind. If you read that as 'fanatical Child Soldier terrorist,' congratulations! You now understand his character arc.
- Uxie in Poké Wars deconstructs The Spock, by showing how much of a sociopath someone who acted purely on logic with no regard for emotion would be. See also Straw Vulcan.
- Jessie, James and Meowth in Symbiosis deconstruct Token Good Teammates. The reason Jessie and James can get away with their behavior is because they are too dangerous for the organization to control. They are extremely deluded because they were brainwashed into insanity to believe that Bad Is Good and Good Is Bad and unwittingly assist in several tradegies and atrocities. Meowth turns out to not support Team Rocket at all and goes along with it because he doesn't know how to get them out.
Films — Animated
- The Prince of Egypt deconstructed Red Oni, Blue Oni through Moses and Rameses, respectively, by showing the qualities associated with them evolving in positive and negative ways as they mature.
- Brave deconstructs the Rebellious Princess. Merida is one such princess who has no time for her mother's lessons and only wishes to spend her days doing riding and archery. She also decides to Screw Destiny and reject an Arranged Marriage...only to nearly start a war with the families of the princes she rejected. And the war is prevented by Merida using the lessons her mother taught her in the first place.
- Elsa from Frozen is a deconstruction of the Emotionless Girl. Her whole life she's been taught to suppress her emotions and "conceal, don't feel" in order to prevent her powers from getting the best of her. Eventually she boils over and suffers Power Incontinence - nearly destroying the kingdom. Only when she embraces her emotions does she truly learn to control her powers - and is now much happier.
- Mulan's father is a Handicapped Badass and Retired Badass who remains skilled with the sword but old age, his injured leg and implied heart problems make him incapable of fighting like he used to for more than a minute.
Films — Live-Action
- As part of Unforgiven's Genre Deconstruction of Westerns as a whole, William Munny is a deconstruction of Clint Eastwood's earlier Western character(s), namely those from the Dollars Trilogy. The film examines in detail the viciousness and amorality of the archetypical Western outlaw, and finds the elderly Munny filled with guilt and self-loathing at the monstrous things in his past.
- Many films have taken issue with the Manic Pixie Dream Girl archetype:
- For the first half of He Loves Me... He Loves Me Not, the protagonist appears to be a typically sweet, hopelessly romantic Manic Pixie Dream Girl, only for the film to reveal that she is in fact a violent, insane Yandere, whose innocent romantic spirit is symptomatic of her complete and utter detachment from reality.
- Annie Hall. The title character is a cheerful Bohemian, who turns out to be a spoiled, unfocused, pseudo-intellectual, neurotic child in an adult's body; a horribly broken person. Which gives her something in common with Woody Allen's character, who is likewise horribly broken, just in somewhat different ways.
- Clementine in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is this type of character, though the relationship plays out more realistically. She even references the "you complete me" line, to her distaste, from Jerry Maguire. She also Lampshades this to a certain degree, saying that Joel shouldn't expect her to "save" him, and that she's "just a fucked-up girl looking for her own peace of mind." Joel sums up her MPDG-ness and the film's deconstruction of it during his tape recording for Lacuna:
"I think if there's a truly seductive quality about Clementine, it's that her personality promises to take you out of the mundane. It's like, you secure yourself with this amazing, burning meteorite to carry you to another world, a world where things are exciting. But, what you quickly learn is that it's really an elaborate ruse."
- Deconstructed in the 1969 film The Sterile Cuckoo, one of Liza Minelli's early films. Pookie fulfills all of the requirements of a MPDG, including breaking the lead character out of his shell. But towards the end of the film is revealed she is much more damaged and vulnerable than anyone has expected. She completely breaks out of the traditional mold at the ending, where she and her boyfriend break up, and she is literally Put on a Bus.
- In Ruby Sparks, all of Calvin's written/dreamt interactions with Ruby play out like she is a conventional Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Once she's real, their relationship becomes a Deconstruction.
- Marla Singer in Fight Club could perhaps best be described as what happens when the Manic Pixie Dream Girl grows up. Marla is dirty, living in poverty, and clearly suffering some form of mental illness, and gets into a fairly unhealthy relationship with Tyler. Marla actually infuriates the narrator because she simply doesn't care about anything.
- After The Reveal, Tyler/The Narrator is really this to Marla.
- Summer Finn in Five Hundred Days Of Summer is seen as an MPDG by the protagonist Tom, who puts her on a pedestal as his ideal girlfriend, but his image of her soon clashes with the fact that she's an actual human being. Specifically, she's not interested in anything serious, and she eventually leaves Tom for another man.
- Sunset Boulevard: Norma Desmond takes a lot of the symptoms to their logical conclusion, with the twist that the protagonist isn't interested. From the start it's clear that she doesn't have both oars in the water as she's living in a decayed Big Fancy House, deluding herself that she'll make a comeback with a terrible, Glurge-filled screenplay of Salome. She quickly bonds with the narrator, agrees to his commission him (to her disadvantage) and quickly throws his life into chaos, leading him to Character Development. But not in a good way.
- Punch-Drunk Love deconstructs the Psychopathic Manchild. Adam Sandler's character is, like always, antisocial, emotionally immature, and prone to uncontrollable fits of anger. Instead of that being a source of comedy, it leads to awkward, embarrassing situations, and the character leads a lonely, depressing life. Roger Ebert discussed this in his review of the film.
- The Breakfast Club takes a very good look at what many of the "stock" characters of teen movies (especially those of The '80s) would be like if they existed in real life, and what their real motivations would be like. Most American teen movies since have used elements of this film's deconstruction wholesale for their own characterization, to the point where, in many cases, what had once been deconstruction is now old hat.
- Andy, the Jerk Jock, only behaves that way in order to fit in with the rest of the team and to impress his father, who raised him on stories of how he acted like that back when he was in school. He wishes that, one day, he'd get injured so that he wouldn't have to wrestle again, and thus never have to worry about living up to Dad's expectations.
- Claire, the Alpha Bitch, is a Type A Stepford Smiler who feels that her life is empty, and that her parents only use her as a tool in their endless arguments. And she's hardly the "queen bee" — in fact, it's peer pressure that essentially molded her into the snobbish bitch that she is, and she feels miserably forced into it.
- Brian, the Nerd, hates how his parents have destroyed his social life by pushing him so hard to succeed, and is so obsessed with his grades that he tried to kill himself (or worse) after getting an F in shop class. His attitude is also little better than that of the "popular" kids that he hates, as shown when he talks about how he took shop class because he thought it was an easy A that only "losers" like Bender took (as opposed to his advanced math classes).
- Bender, the juvenile delinquent, is like that not because he's a bad person per se, but as a result of his tough, working-class upbringing and his abusive father, both of which have taught him that violence is an acceptable solution to problems. His badass image is also easily disarmed by Andy, even though he's armed with a knife.
- Allison, the crazy loner, intentionally acts crazy and theatrically in order to get attention, something her parents don't give her. She doesn't bother to hide her blatant thefts and eccentricities, and her withdrawn persona is actually just a ploy to get people to give her more attention.
- Mr. Vernon, the teacher, is scared that these kids are the next generation. Carl the janitor points out neither of them were any different when they were young.
- In the Scream series, Sidney Prescott evolves from a straight Final Girl into a deconstruction of such. Even in the first film, she snaps at reporters trying to exploit her trauma (there's a quick scene of a shameless tabloid journalist, played by Linda Blair, asking her "how does it feel to be almost brutally murdered?"), she snarks at the stupid mistakes that Slasher Movie victims often make (though to be fair, this is a series where everybody does that), and she breaks the "virgins don't die" rule by having sex — with the killer! — and still surviving. In the second film, her life has grown to be defined by her status as the survivor of a massacre, and while this has brought her fame, fortune, and movie deals, it also means that she is constantly having to look over her shoulder for the next wannabe Ghostface. And then she has to repeat the entire experience, watching her friends getting slaughtered all over again by the pissed-off mother of the last killer, looking for payback against Sidney for killing her son.
By the third film, she's living in a self-imposed isolation bordering on Crazy Survivalist levels, working from home under a fake name. She suffers recurring nightmares about Ghostface killing her, and when she visits the set of Stab 3, a recreation of her old home in Woodsboro, she has a mental breakdown as her memories of the first movie come flooding back. The passage of time and the settling of her family drama (and, presumably, years of therapy) mean that she's gotten better by the fourth film, where she's written a bestselling autobiography about her life and having the inner strength to move on from the nightmares she's experienced. She even returns to Woodsboro as part of the healing process... only to run into another Ghostface, who turns out to be her own cousin, Jill. Jealous of Sidney's fame, Jill launches into a killing spree and tries to frame Trevor for it so that she can come out of it looking like a final girl, with all the same media attention that this had previously earned her cousin. For a real Final Girl, the horror wouldn't end when the credits roll — she'd have to live with the experience forever, and may God help her if she's cast in the sequels. No matter what she does, no matter how much time passes, poor Sidney Prescott will always be haunted by the most traumatic moment of her life.
- Sarah Connor in Terminator 2: Judgment Day is a deconstruction of the Action Mom trope. While very badass, it's out of necessity, as she's Properly Paranoid about robot assassins coming from the future to hunt her and her child. She is thus constantly training to keep herself in peak ability, as one mistake at the wrong time could cost her life. Additionally, her knowledge of her son John Connor as The Chosen One has deteriorated their relationship, as she's spent more time training him for his future military career than she has to care and comforting him. By the time they meet again in his pre-teens, he's uncertain whether she actually loves him or just wants him to live long enough to defeat the machines.
- The movie Heat is such a treatment of the Gentleman Thief stock character. Neil MacCauley has the charm and all the connections, but he's painfully lonely, and won't get close to anyone for fear that the cops will be right around the corner. The one major job he's involved in goes terribly awry, and results in over half of his team being killed by the cops. MacCauley gets more violent as the film progresses, culminating in his revenge overriding his need to escape. He ends up proving his own adage right when he flees (and leaves his girlfriend) after he sees Vincent Hanna pursuing him, and winds up dead at the end of the film.
- Inception is a deconstruction of the Determinator. The eponymous act involves placing a single, simple idea deep into an unwitting subject's subconscious — that they will never be rid of. This single idea will define them for the rest of their lives, and both the primary protagonist and antagonist demonstrate how it can backfire. Spectacularly.
- The Social Network takes the Self-Made Man archetype that is idealized in American culture and puts it through the ringer. In a few short years, the main character goes from a nerdy nobody at Harvard who can't keep his girlfriend to the world's youngest billionaire with his creation, and gets everything that he could possibly want... but it's also heavily implied that a lot of people got ruined or otherwise screwed over in the process, that he possibly stole the idea for his website in order to get to that point, that his flawed personality traits are precisely what allowed him to rise to the top, and that, even with all his material wealth, he's no happier than he was before. And he still doesn't get his girlfriend back. This is hardly the first time that such themes have been explored — indeed, it's not even the first time that the film's screenwriter has done this.
- The Hero (Cameron Vale) of the first Scanners movie deconstructs The Chosen One: he's the only "Scanner" with the power to stop Daryl Revok, he's an absolute psychic Badass ...and he is completely devoid of personality beyond his mission to stop Revok, which he has been raised to do by an (unknown to him) Evil Mentor.
- Star Wars: Anakin Skywalker's arc as The Chosen One in the prequel trilogy deconstructs Luke's arc in the original trilogy. Like Luke, Anakin is told at a young age that he has great powers, but eventually, he becomes extremely arrogant and distrusting of everybody around him, and he loses his friends and loved ones in his attempts to assert that power. Makes sense, since in-universe, Luke is in many ways Anakin done right. He even ultimately helps get Anakin back on track.
- The Irish film My Name Is Emily deconstructs Cloud Cuckoo Lander. The titular character Emily Egan is one such girl. Except she's odd because her mother was tragically killed in a car crash, her father steadily broke under the strain and ended up in a mental hospital, and she's spent ages going in and out of different foster homes. Her quirkiness is off putting to everyone around her and is a mark of her utter detachment from reality.
- A Hero of Our Time deconstructs Byronic Hero in Pechorin: a brooding, selfish outcast from high society who inadvertently brings ruin to everyone he meets, especially the women who fall in love with his romantic persona.
- Discworld has a few of these, since Sir Terry Pratchett's brand of humour is largely based on taking something seriously that was not intended to stand up to it.
- Cohen the Barbarian is something of a deconstruction of a Barbarian Hero; Sir Terry wondered what happened when Conan got old, and realised he'd have to keep doing it, even if his back was going and he'd lost all his teeth.
- Moist von Lipwig, when he first appears in Going Postal is a deconstruction of a Lovable Rogue, who requires quite a lot of Character Development to actually become lovable; he's initially a callous user who sees people as things (the ultimate Discworld crime).
- An early Deconstruction of Knight in Shining Armor exists in Don Quixote, in which the eponymous character attempts to take up the role in an age when Knights are Deader Than Disco. Hilarity Ensues.
- "The Story of the Good Little Boy" by Mark Twain is a short story that deconstructs the "Good Little Sunday School Boy That Teaches Lessons" archetype that was popular at the time by making the protagonist try to fit the mold of the Sunday School characters, but ends up being ridiculously Wrong Genre Savvy about it all. The boys that went sailing on Sunday instead of going to church didn't drown for their wickedness, but he nearly does trying to stop them. The dog he saves attacks him. In the end he gets blown up into multiple pieces and isn't even able to deliver a Bible passage before dying or make any kind of lasting impact. His obsession with good works and Holier Than Thou attitude isn't just ineffective but literally gets him killed.
- Enders Game is a deconstruction of the Kid Hero and Boring Invincible Hero. By the time the book ends Ender abandons Earth forever, has killed all but one of a decidedly non-hostile species that accidentally antagonized humanity before they realized we were sentient, doesn't hook up with his love interest (because, you know, he doesn't get one) and had his ass handed to him psychologically. Oh, and he accidently killed two fellow students but was never told about it, but he's smart enough to suspect it and feel guilty.
- Dan Abnett also deconstructed The Smart Guy in his Warhammer 40,000: Eisenhorn trilogy. Eisenhorn's savant, Ueber Aemos, is the walking databank he is because of a "meme-virus" he acquired that gives him a compulsion to keep gathering knowledge, culminating in memorising the entirety of the Malus Codicum and summoning a daemon in an attempt to protect Eisenhorn.
- Joe Golem And The Drowning City has Simon Church, a deconstruction of the Gentleman Adventurer. He's cunning, sharp-witted and cultured, but it's made abundantly clear that is all a facade to hide the massive emotional trauma he carries from slowly watching all his partners, family and friends amidst his adventures. Essentially Church's a Gentleman Adventurer whose adventuring days left the gentleman as a empty, suicidal emotional husk.
- Dune deconstructs many hero tropes within the first book starting with Paul Atreides as an example of what happens when the Chosen One comes about too early and plays up the Messianic Archetype card (largely through Becoming the Mask) to achieve his goals for revenge. That being a Chosen One also gifts him with an ability that completely destroys his life through clairvoyance. The rest of the characters in the story are often used to pick apart the very characteristics that would be necessary for a person to embody the tropes, and just how self-destructive they can be.
- Harry Potter deconstructs Relationship Sue with Cho Chang. She's introduced as Harry's ideal match - she's pretty, popular, kind and loves the same things he does. When Harry actually tries to date her...he finds out they're incompatible and they don't work out. The lesson here is that a relationship can't be based on someone being the metaphorical perfect match - especially if neither party hasn't got a clue how to actually make a romance work.
Live Action TV
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: This article makes a case for Grant Ward of deconstructing the type of Anti-Hero Ward is, by showing the the pain of his past life does not justify him taking it out on others and making it clear that everything is not about him.
- The Cowboy Cop is deconstructed with Jimmy McNulty of The Wire, who, despite being an excellent detective, allows his free-wheeling ways to cause much destruction to both his personal life and performs numerous, possibly career-damaging moves on his way towards cracking any given case.
- Herc and Carver show how their gung-ho, headcracking style of busting street corner hustlers is actually not very useful police work. Over the course of the show, Carver matures into a more competent policeman who becomes a part of his community and uses more intelligent tactics to disrupt the drug trade. Herc, not so much.
- Despite The Glades being about a Cowboy Cop, the first episode showed somewhat realistic consequences to having an officer who tramples all over the rules and gets away with it because of his skill and talent. Specifically, his partner feels overshadowed by him, and complained about it to his wife so much it eventually destroyed their marriage. When she tried to leave him, he killed her. She's the Victim of the Week.
- Dead Like Me deconstructed Cool Old Lady in the form of Grandma Phyl who spent so many years doing "cool" stuff in foreign places that she neglected her own daughter which caused Joy to grow up anal and overly self-reliant.
- Pretty Little Liars: Alison is the deconstruction of the Alpha Bitch, to the point where her behavior gained her and her friends the disdain of 90% of the town, and she has multiple enemies in the A-team that want her dead. Her own friends have gotten fed up with her antics and are now against her. Heck, her own mom saw someone hit her over the head with a rock, and bury her alive to cover for that person! Talk about being disliked.
- She also ended up being a deconstruction of Poisonous Friend, as the actions of the Liars towards stemmed from years of bottled-up resentment due to her actions.
- The Originals, Gameof Thrones, Graceland and Arrow all deconstruct The Unfettered. The actions that Klaus, Stannis, Briggs and Oliver take in order to defeat the villains result in the loss of several key allies.
- In particular, Briggs' Manipulative Bastard tendencies, as well as being a Control Freak, resulted in him taking down the Big Bad of season three through Mike, but it also ended with him being a Broken Pedestal for Mike and Johnny. Stannis's sacrifice of his daughter cost him his army. Oliver and Klaus both became The Mole, but their actions drove away both Diggle and Elijah.
- Once Upon a Time
- Emma is the Agent Scully, but her skepticism is borne of lack of trust due to past abandonment issues.
- Henry aspires to be a Kid Hero but his need to live a more exciting life causes him to needlessly risk his life.
- Regina is a "Well Done, Son!" Guy who is never able to free herself of wanting to please her mother Cora. She blames Snow White for the death of her first love even though it was Cora who killed him.
- Stargate Atlantis deconstructs the Space People trope with the introduction of the "Travelers." As cool as it sounds to be a people that lives their entire lives on ships in interstellar space, by the time of the show it's proven to be a cultural dead end. Without access to planetary resources they're unable to build new ships. The ships they do have are aging clunkers kept running with scavenged parts, and none of them are replaceable. Their population growth has to be strictly controlled because they only have so much living space. They keep to themselves so much that most other civilizations aren't even aware of their existence, or else consider them untrustworthy scavengers who'll do anything to survive. They are slow to form alliances or expose themselves to situations that could lead to open conflicts, because they have so much to lose. Many have simply abandoned the Traveler lifestyle and integrated themselves into terrestrial societies.
- The Firefly episode "Trash" is a notable deconstruction of The Vamp (in the person of "YoSaffBridge"), showing how depressing and dehumanizing it can really be to be one, and how psychologically messed up someone would have to be to want to be one. Saff has completely mastered the art of seduction, but at the cost of any chance of ever having a meaningful relationship with another human being. After years of getting ahead through lying and manipulation, she's left a trail of abandoned identities behind her—to the point that even she barely knows who she is anymore—and a long line of men that she abandoned soon after marrying them for profit. At the end of the episode, Mal outright dismantles her whole M.O. in a well-timed "The Reason You Suck" Speech, where he points out that people like him will always trump people like her—because unlike her, he has a devoted crew of True Companions that will always have his back. In a pinch, well-earned loyalty always trumps cheap manipulation.
- Two of a Kind deconstructed Papa Wolf in one episode. Ashley has a crush on her tutor but discovers he has a girlfriend and is heartbroken. When Kevin finds out, he fires the tutor thinking it would help. Instead Ashley yells at him for meddling in her private business and Carrie points out how Kevin assumed he would be helping rather than actually asking Ashley about her feelings. Kevin eventually admits it was more out of a desire to come across as a hero - and hires the tutor back.
- The first 2 seasons of Downton Abbey deconstructed The Dutiful Son (or daughter, in this case) with Lady Mary, who was brought up believing family honor is everything even above personal happiness. She eventually falls in love with Matthew but her mother's pregnancy and possibility of finally having a male heir causes her break things off because Matthew would be title-less. When Cora loses the baby, Mary again tries to be with Matthew but he loses trust in her and believes her to be a Gold Digger. In season 2, Mary becomes engaged to Sir Richard who could provide for her even if everyone hates him. She breaks it off eventually and her father finally recognizes his fault in making Mary sacrifice love for honor. He tells her she can marry whoever she wants because a little scandal is worth it as long as his daughter is happy.
- The Community episode "Studies in Modern Movement" deconstructs the Loony Friends part of the Loony Friends Improve Your Personality trope. After the strait-laced Annie agrees to move in with the eccentric Troy and Abed, she tries to go along with their zany antics and off-the-wall kookiness, but gradually gets more and more frustrated with their eccentricity and the selfishness, obliviousness, and annoying behaviour it leads to. The point is clearly made that while the Loony Friends may seem cool, wacky and fun in small doses and from a distance (such as the twenty-odd minutes you spend watching them on television), if you had to spend any meaningful amount of time up-close and personal with them they'd quickly become insufferably selfish and annoying if they weren't willing to tone things down a bit.
- Jeff Winger deconstructs this from the other side. Yes, the Loony Friends gradually help improve his personality... but only because it turns out that for all his pretensions towards normality and his condescending attitude towards them, he's actually way more messed up than they are.
- Pierce Hawthorne can be considered a deconstruction of the "wacky old person" character. His insensitivity makes him seem like a Jerkass, his Fair for Its Day outlook gets him ostracized, and his attempts to fit in turn him into an unlikeable Attention Whore.
- Kamen Rider Gaim does this with its characters. For example, the main protagonist, Kouta, just received a belt that allows him to transform. But since he knows nothing about the beings threatening their world, he just uses it to play in street games for money. What's more, since he just received his powers, he's absolutely terrible at fighting, meaning someone more skilled than him can easily kill him. And when he survives, he isn't determined to get stronger and beat the guy who nearly killed him, he's traumatized and nearly stops fighting altogether.
- Kaito is a deconstruction of the "Cool Jerk" archetype. Even though he has the charisma to attract and befriend many people, his resentment and cold personality drive away anyone who could be his friend. Also, while most Secondary Riders slowly warm up to the protagonist and later become straight-up heroes, Kaito's held on to his beliefs for a long time and ,simply put, is not ready to give them up anytime soon.
- Micchy is the secondary rider who's young, wants to help his friends, and has a crush on his friend, Mai. All of these traits are portrayed as negative: the fact that he's young means that he can be easily corrupted; his loyalty to his friends means that he'll commit horrendous acts for them; his crush on Mai is at first portrayed as positive, but as time goes on, his loyalty to Mai borders on Yandere, causing him to snap when she gets mad at him, blaming Kouta for his problems and eventually culminating in him almost killing Kouta out of rage.
- Z Nation shows what happens when someone like Murphy is forced to be The Chosen One: to say he doesn't handle it well is an understatement, seeing as how he keeps screwing over everyone trying to protect him, indirectly got several people killed, caused another apocalypse, and turned Cassandra into a feral zombie hybrid only for her to die at the hands of Ten-K.
- Power Rangers Jungle Fury deconstructs the Rookie Red Ranger, a trope the franchise spawned, with Casey. Unlike Theo and Lily, he wasn't chosen for being an experienced student but because of his latent talent and how he stood up to Jarrod. As the least experienced in combat and in his weapon, he's looked down on by Theo while Lily treats him like a little brother. It bothers him enough that he gets extra training from RJ. Although he's made leader to make him less wary, he gets upset when RJ becomes a Ranger, feeling that his position is challenged. Theo and Lily outright reject his belief that Jarrod can be redeemed, forcing him to go one his own and prove them wrong. In the end, he ends up losing his lack of confidence in himself and plays the trope straight.
- Warhammer 40,000
- Space Marines' Primarchs deconstruct Magnetic Hero. They were the mightiest and most charismatic men in history, natural leaders and born conquerors who came to dominate the worlds they were scattered to before taking their place leading the Emperor's armies. But they also had some serious issues resulting from this unusual upbringing and the Emperor's Parental Abandonment, and the same Undying Loyalty they inspired in their legions meant that when half of the Primarchs turned traitor, they were able to take the majority of their forces with them.
- The Grey Knights deconstruct The Paladin. Their sole role is fighting daemon corruption so that usually means killing an entire population for being too close to said corruption. It is also said not one Grey Knight had fallen to Chaos. It's because they are brainwashed so they can't make that choice.
- Night Haunter deconstructed Terror Hero. He believed fear was the greatest tool that would bring peace to his world and so carried out killing sprees in a global scale hoping it would Scare 'Em Straight. Years later, he comes back to see his planet had reverted back to its evil ways since he and his legion weren't there to terrify anyone. Rather than admit his methods were wrong, he blew his planet up.
- Lady Macbeth deconstructed Behind Every Great Man. She corrupted her husband and helped make him king but she's only human and the guilt of being responsible for the lives lost for the sake of their ambition drives her to madness and death. Without her guidance, her husband soon followed her to the grave.
- God of War is a deconstruction of the classical Greek hero and Spartan archetypes: a person who is defined by using his physical strength to do whatever he wants, seeks revenge for any affront, has a "Might Makes Right" morality and has divine parentage is less likely to be a paragon and more likely to be a violent psychopath hellbent on killing his enemies - at the expense of the whole universe.
- Metal Gear
- The series as a whole deconstructs the most basic Archetype in Hollywood: the Bad Ass hero who blows bad guys to hell and gets the girl. Rather than being a hardcore larger than life hero, Solid Snake ends up becoming a traumatized mess of a man in response to the hell he's put through throughout his adventures.
- Big Boss, who Solid Snake is a clone of, takes the deconstruction even further. While we initially meet Snake as a seasoned soldier, Big Boss's first mission turns him from being a Wide-Eyed Idealist with Patriotic Fervor into a Shell-Shocked Veteran who felt that he became an Unwitting Pawn to the government when the mission's true nature was revealed to him - a petty political affair carried out to kill an innocent soldier (who served as his mentor) and ensure that the United States made off with a fortune. As such, he left the United States to start his own private military company that became involved with increasingly morally-questionable operations, which eventually led to him being branded as a terrorist in spite of the fact that his actions successfully prevented nuclear war. After his base of operations was destroyed for the first time, he became a shell of a man that decided to embrace his role as a war criminal as long as it meant he could create a Heaven for soldiers like himself - which, of course, would come at the cost of making the rest of the world a living Hell for everyone else. Interestingly enough, this would retroactively make Solid Snake, a Reconstruction of this archetype: while he's still an emotional wreck, he serves as a Knight in Sour Armor that still chooses to fight with the government because he believes that it's the right thing to do - instead of pursuing his own selfish and ultimately self-destructive goals like Big Boss - even if Being Good Sucks.
- Lightning of the Final Fantasy XIII games deconstructs the "strong female character" trope. When her and Serah's parents died, she tried to make herself "strong" so that she could care for herself and her sister, creating her "Lightning" persona by shedding the parts of herself she viewed as "weak". This ends up alienating Serah from her, causing strife between her and the other party members, and influences Hope to fester his desire for revenge against Snow. She realizes along the way how her "tough" persona has only caused her problems. After Serah dies in Final Fantasy XIII-2, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII sees her as once again distant and cold, not due to Bhunivelze's influence but her own desire to seal away her "weaknesses", which also causes the creation of Lumina. She defrosts over the course of the game, and ultimately is saved from her intended Heroic Sacrifice by simply calling for help.
- Final Fantasy VIII deconstructs the Kid Hero by overt comparison to Child Soldiers. Your party of heroic 16 and 17 year-olds is just as mentally damaged and scarred as child soldiers tend to be in real life, not helped by using Phlebotinum which erases their memories, thus taking time to deconstruct the Amnesiac Hero as well.
- Among the many tropes Spec Ops: The Line picks apart is that of a Determinator protagonist. Captain Walker is initially part of a small recon team sent to investigate what happened in Dubai, find survivors, and then pull back to contact his superiors, but once he sees the madness that has engulfed the ruined city, he becomes set on getting involved and putting things right. Yet Walker never actually makes anything better - quite the opposite, in fact - and each new Tragic Mistake he makes only hardens his resolve to finish this self-imposed mission and justify what he was "forced" to do to complete it. By the end of the game he's crossed the Moral Event Horizon and doomed everyone in Dubai to a slow, horrible death, all because Walker couldn't turn back from what he decided he had to do.
- Main character Ruby Rose deconstructs the Grade Skipper trope. Her combat prowess meant that she was accepted into Beacon Academy two years early, and schoolmaster Professor Ozpin has such faith in her potential that he eventually selects her to lead team RWBY. She still spends the first few episodes a panicky, nervous wreck, a fifteen-year-old girl stuck in a school full of young adults with only her big sister for a friend. Ruby also catches a lot of flak from teammate Weiss Schnee for her immaturity and academic failings, though this lessens after Weiss sees Ruby in action.
- Yang in turn deconstructs the Hot-Blooded, Boisterous Bruiser sort of fighter. Her Semblance gives her a Critical Status Buff the more damage she takes, and often gets her literally Burning with Anger. This makes her great in brawls and come-from-behind victories, but we also see the downside of this fighting style when she can't land any hits and her temper becomes a liability. Most critically, the fact that Yang has a tendency to become The Berserker makes her an easy victim of a Frame-Up accusing her of kneecapping a defeated duel opponent. All of this means that Ruby, two years Yang's junior, thinks it's a good thing they're on the same team, since Ruby can "keep her in line."
- Jaune deconstructs the Plucky Comic Relief type of character that's typical for action-adventure style shows. It's clear almost from the start that he's leagues behind everyone else in the cast when it comes to knowing how to fight, or even knowledge of basic principles such as Aura. So how'd he get into a combat school on the level of Beacon? He cheated his way in using fake transcripts. He's also well aware that everyone sees him as the "lovable idiot" and has a severe inferiority complex as a result - the whole reason he came to Beacon in the first place was to learn the skills to make him a hero people can look up to, instead of remaining a failure who's looked down upon or pitied.
- Pyrrha, Jaune's partner and polar opposite, is The Ace from an academy known for stellar combat skills, and successful enough to do cereal endorsements. She's beautiful and extremely popular, and despite her status as a global celebrity remains sweet and humble. She's also terribly lonely, since nobody ever tries to get to know her because they all assume she's way out of their league. She falls for Jaune because he's the only guy at Beacon clueless enough to treat her like a friend instead of some warrior paragon.
- Professor Ozpin deconstructs the Dumbledore-esque, "weird but wise headmaster bending the rules for the protagonists" sort of school leader. He's secretive and mysterious, and not only let Ruby Rose into his school early, but he also let her team go on a mission normally closed to first-year students on the logic that they'd try to go that way even if forbidden. Team RWBY proceeds to get in over their heads, barely survives against enemies that outclass them, and accelerates the bad guys' plans. Meanwhile Ozpin's own allies are forced to act behind his back to defuse the crisis because he never explained the rationale for his actions, while his superiors revoke some of his authority and make it clear that they'll be discussing his career options in the near future.
- Ruby and Yang's early comments about their father Taiyang paint him as an Overprotective Dad deeply concerned with his daughters' safety. Then later we learn learn that Taiyang is a single parent - Yang's mother Raven walked out on both of them for unexplained reasons, and a few years later Ruby's mother Summer went MIA on a mission and is presumed dead. Losing both his first and second loves caused Taiyang to "shut down" for a time, and then to make matters worse a very young Yang took an even younger Ruby out into the wilderness in search of Raven, which would have ended with them torn to pieces by Grimm were it not for the timely arrival of their uncle Qrow. Or in other words, Ruby and Yang are all Taiyang has left, so of course he'd be protective of them. This sort of trauma could also explain his Cloud Cuckoolander tendencies, like the time he sent a dog through the mail.
- xkcd deconstructs the "friendzoned" Dogged Nice Guy character in the strip "Friends," portraying the "nice guy" in question as an emotionally manipulative creep hoping to ingratiate himself into a relationship with the object of his affection by undermining her self-confidence and exploiting her loneliness. And in the end, the character doesn't get the girl precisely because the woman in question realizes how unpleasant he is.
- The SCP Foundation is full of examples of this. The particular character type that seems to get deconstructed the most is the Mary Sue and other closely related tropes. SCP-239 had to be put permanently into a coma because of problems her unconscious alteration of reality caused. SCP-76-2, an over powered Blood Knight was sealed away because the Foundation could not provide him with enough enemies to kill to keep him satisfied. SCP-056, a shape shifter who turns into a better version of anything that looks at him is an Insufferable Genius that everybody hates. 532-D an extremely destructive Reality Warper who could only keep his powers under control while happy ended up abusing this fact to force women to have sex with him, and was killed by Dr Clef. Several other Mary Sues were also killed because they were too dangerous to keep around and not interesting enough to justify keeping them alive For Science!. One of the few Mary Sues who didn't get officially deconstructed is SCP-343 who refuses to do anything helpful but is otherwise cooperative enough to be classified as Safe. The Author Avatars responsible for killing the Mary Sues have also been deconstructed in several tales, partly because they started to become too Mary Sue like themselves. All other characters with Mary Sue traits that are not deconstructions are either Parody Sues, or have some other trait that cancels out their Mary Sue Traits, or otherwise are well written well enough to not be accused of being one.
- there is also a collection of tales called the lolfoundation canon. It is an alternate reality where several staff of the Foundation gained reality warping powers but now see the world Through the Eyes of Madness. From their own perspective, they are all Mary Sues and everything is awesome and funny and nothing really bad ever happens, but in reality they are unable to perceive any consequences of their actions and those people who can properly perceive reality see them as MadGods. When Dr Clef realized what was really going on, but was unable to do anything about it, being a Mary Sue became And I Must Scream for him.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is fond of deconstructing common cartoon character archetypes.
- Twilight Sparkle resembles a common Smart Girl protagonist, but her intellect and no-nonsense behaviour are exaggerated to the point of being a Super OCD perfectionist prone to mental breakdowns over the smallest slight, meaning she is just as often reliant on her friends' support as being the Only Sane Man to arguments.
- Rainbow Dash, at first, is the typical blustery tomboy show-off stock for girl's shows. In several episodes though, she's shown to be crippled by fear of failure when stress gets to her, isn't as confident as she projects, and is embarassed for liking nerdy and/or girly things because of her image. A major factor in her Character Development over the seasons is her getting over these problems and mellowing out as a result.
- Pinkie Pie deconstructs the Plucky Comic Relief by often taking her comedy to genuinely obnoxious and even hurtful levels, and because she is intensely emotionally dependent on people liking her, especially her friends. Any comedian will tell you haw dangerously addictive making others laugh can be.
- The episode "Too Many Pinkie Pies" also deconstructs Pinkie's Fun Personified Genki Girl nature. In order to have more time for fun with her friends, she clones herself. Unfortunately the clones are Flanderised versions of her, with none of her tact or compassion for her friends. The army of clones have no other goal than mindless fun and end up causing havoc and destruction. It shows that a one-dimensional Genki Girl or Fun Personified character would be horrible to deal with in real life, if they don't have the good sense and compassion to counter balance some of their wackier traits.
- Discord deconstructs the Token Evil Teammate. Though he was a former villain who underwent a Heel-Face Turn, he only went so far as becoming a Wild Card; he never really became "good", he was just friends with one of the heroes and there was the constant threat of being imprisoned again if he stepped out of line. When the ponies ask for Discord's help in a time of crisis, he just keeps joking around and later reveals he knew the source of the problem all along and could have stopped it, he just wanted to Troll them and watch them do it themselves. In the Season 4 finale, with Discord trusted to capture the new villain Tirek, Tirek instead manipulates him into evil with a single speech. Celestia even lampshades they trusted Discord too much and overestimated what The Power of Friendship meant to him. The trope then gets reconstructed as Discord is hit with multiple My God, What Have I Done? moments as Tirek goes on a rampage, and ultimately realizes he does value friendship with the ponies, and makes a heartfelt apology to them.
- Hey Arnold!:
- It deconstructs Purity Sue with Olga Pataki, Helga's sister. In order to keep your "pretty, intelligent, sweet, absolutely beloved young girl" image, you're likely to end up as a perfectionist, weepy, perpetually smily, dangerously out-of-reality mess who will break down to melodramatic levels the very moment something doesn't seem to fit in such a bubble of perfection, while being almost completely unable to connect with people far more "flawed" than yourself.
- It also gives us Helga Pataki herself as a deconstruction of the Tsundere trope. She's got a relationship with Arnold that looks on the surface like the typical foundations of a Slap-Slap-Kiss romance, but as we delve a bit farther into her family life we see that, along with her traumatized Purity Sue sister, she has an abusive Jerkass dad and a Lady Drunk mother, neither of which can provide much support in her daily life — if she's lucky. Looking at the show with slightly more jaded eyes, her volatile relationship with Arnold and her few friends become an increasingly obvious cry for help and an awkwardness with dealing with people nonviolently.
- The Teen Titans Very Special Episode "Troq" deconstructs the Noble Bigot with Val-Yor. He is genuinely heroic, Badass, and friendly with the Titans, except he's horribly racist to Starfire, something the other Titans demand he apologize for once they find out. One would think Starfire saving him and the day would turn him around, it turns out racism is not that easily overcome. All it did was make him think Starfire was "one of the good ones", causing the Titans to lose any remaining respect for him. Val-Yor showed that no amount of nobleness would make bigotry acceptable.