It has been said that "a trope [[Administrivia/NotASubversion cannot be partially subverted]] any more than a woman can be a little bit pregnant". Then what do you call it when TheButlerDidIt, but "it" [[PokeThePoodle was eating the last cookie in the jar?]] Or when [[PowerGlows a powerful weapon glows]] so little you can't even notice it in good light?

You call it a Downplayed Trope.

A Downplayed Trope is when a trope is played to a much smaller extent than it usually is. In particularly extreme cases, the lack of extent to which the trope is played is PlayedForLaughs for the same reason as its antithesis, the ExaggeratedTrope. The exact definition varies on a case-by-case basis, but the above works as a general rule. It's also why [[Administrivia/TheSameButMore The Same But Less]] doesn't really make a new trope, since Administrivia/TropesAreFlexible.

In case the introduction didn't tip you off, many cases of Administrivia/NotASubversion fall into this trope's territory. Keep in mind when listing examples, downplaying does NOT mean that trope criteria can be ignored (see Administrivia/SpeculativeTroping) and that not all tropes can be downplayed.

A form of PlayingWithATrope.

Compare SubvertedTrope, ParodiedTrope.

Contrast ExaggeratedTrope.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* Yazan Gable of ''Anime/MobileSuitZetaGundam'' downplays the AxCrazy and PsychoForHire tropes. Yazan is a dangerously insane, feral predator who joined the army just so he could get the chance to hurt people and has no empathy whatsoever for those around him. However, he's as rational as a person with that kind of motivation can be, enjoys the company of a few likeminded sociopaths (though he doesn't care at all when they die), follows the orders of those superiors he respects, and is generally portrayed as a brutal uncaring thug rather than the cackling madman that is typical of both tropes.
* Rei Kiriyama from ''Manga/SangatsuNoLion'' is downplayed example of TheEeyore. He spends much of his time and narration contemplating over his many issues and is prone to frequent emotional lows. However, he is not ''unreasonably'' depressed, and he is capable of showing other emotions for more than just a brief moment.
* ''Manga/FairyTail'''s Fairy Law is a downplayed, laser-guided FantasticNuke. They have the real thing in the MagiTek KillSat Etherion, though.
* In ''Anime/GaikingLegendOfDaikuMaryu'', Gaiking's Puncher Grind attack is a downplayed RocketPunch; it's not propelled, and it can't return to Gaiking after being fired. Daiya has to improvise by using the [[GrapplingHookPistol Zecter Hook technique]] to retrieve it from mid-air.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ''ComicBook/{{Shazam}}'': Captain Marvel villain Dr. Sivana downplays the EvilCripple trope. He's a CardCarryingVillain and MadScientist who walks with the aid of a cane, and whose disability only mildly impairs him.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* ''Webcomic/AxisPowersHetalia'' fanfic ''[[à Gankona, Unnachgiebig, Unità]]'': Downplays CrazyJealousGuy. Germany and Japan may have been [[GreenEyedMonster intensely jealous]] of each other, but they didn't actively try to ban Italy from being with the other.
* ''Manga/{{Evangelion 303}}'': Downplays MegatonPunch. In chapter 2 [[FieryRedhead a very angry]] [[BelligerentSexualTension Asuka punches Shinji]] ''hard''; but instead of putting him in orbit as usual in this trope, her punch just results in him stumbling backwards and his nose bleeding.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/TheMatrix'' downplays LikeAGodToMe, where a guy calls Neo a "personal Jesus Christ", but in the context of being polite instead of amazed.
* ''Film/HomeAlone 2'' downplays PunchClockVillain with the concierge played by Creator/TimCurry. He's doing his job and is right that Kevin used his father's credit card illegally to book a room, but he's overly motivated in catching Kevin and it looks like he's doing it out of spite.

* Creator/BeverlyCleary's sister series ''Literature/HenryHuggins'' and ''Literature/RamonaQuimby'' downplays EmbarrassingNickname. ''Beezus and Ramona'', which was written in Beezus' perspective, mentions that she'd rather be called her real name "Beatrice", rather than "Beezus". But she never verbally complains about the nickname when her friends and family uses that, so one might assume that she's actually fine with it.
* Literature/PaddingtonBear downplays the BearsAreBadNews trope; unlike most bears who appear in this trope, he is rather placid, friendly, polite and mild-mannered, but his naïveté and innocence about both British culture (being a recent immigrant to London from Darkest Peru) and human culture (being, well, a bear) mean that he tends to inadvertently cause trouble for people around him, albeit mainly of the "awkward social situations" nature rather than the "OMG this bear's gonna eat my leg" nature.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/TheMentalist'': The butler was the driver for the {{socialite}} who did it, making him an accomplice. Said socialite arranged for the butler to go free if she confessed.
* ''Series/{{Bones}}'': The butler confessed to doing it, but it's pretty likely he's just taking the fall for his employers.
* ''Series/{{Justified}}'':
** Dickie Bennett downplays EvilCripple. An injury from high school left him with a limp. It doesn't impair him overly much, and is only noticeable when characters call attention to it. At the same time, said limp is at the core of his anger with the world, and twenty years after receiving it, he still wants payback on the man who gave it to him.
** Johnny Crowder, conversely, downplays ObfuscatingDisability. Johnny really is crippled. A shotgun blast to the stomach left him with a shuffling, painful walk, and it's much easier for him to use a wheelchair. What he is ''not'' however, is a full on paraplegic, which is what he pretends to be; if Johnny has to, he can walk.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* David Sarif of ''VideoGame/DeusExHumanRevolution'' fits this aspect of CorruptCorporateExecutive. He's not a bad guy ''per se'', especially given the setting. He's shown to genuinely care about his employees, but he's also willing to cut some corners that would be difficult to explain in an investigation and to take "creative" interpretations of some of his employee contracts. That said, he's the nicest bigshot you'll meet in the setting [[spoiler:and the only one not in cahoots with TheIlluminati.]]
* Fina of ''VideoGame/SkiesOfArcadia'' has a small version of a CleavageWindow (because it has a purpose other than {{Fanservice}}).
* In ''VideoGame/{{Bastion}}'', you have a ShortRangeShotgun in the Scrap Musket, but those qualities can be downplayed by installing upgrades that tighten the spread and reduce the damage falloff at range. Or it can be further tuned in the other direction with an opposite upgrade that ''further'' widens the spread.
* In ''Videogame/TalesOfTheAbyss'', the resident TeamPet comes equipped with a downplayed BreathWeapon. He's too young to use it without an AmplifierArtifact, and even then it's too weak to be useful outside of puzzle solving.
* The Templar's AncientConspiracy status in [[VideoGame/AssassinsCreedIVBlackFlag Assassins Creed 4]]. The Templars are rich and powerful in the Carribean but not so much that the similarly rich and powerful English Navy and plantation owners can't ignore them at their leisure.
* LoveTriangle is downplayed in ''VideoGame/FireEmblemAwakening''. Not only Cordelia and Sumia ''never'' catfight over their "love interest" Chrom (Sumia is one of his potential wives, but [[UnrequitedTragicMaiden Cordelia isn't]]... and yet Chrom's '''not''' mentioned in their support talks), but both women can [[SecondLove end up with other men]] [[CelibateHero or as bachelorettes]] if the player so desires.
* The computer opponents generally in Pokémon, and those in the battle facilities in particular are noted for being such [[TheComputerIsACheatingBastard blatant cheaters with illegal movesets.]] Come the Battle Maison in ''VideoGame/PokemonXAndY'', however, and the opponents use Pokémon and movesets that are all legal. Only two instances of cheating - which aren't really blatant forms of cheating:
** Pokémon with unreleased hidden abilities - which ''were'' programmed in the first place, just not released to the general public, so it's different to tacking on a random ability just to gain an unfair advantage.
** Their Pokémon also sometimes hold items unavailable in X and Y - but they were all available/used in the previous generations of games - so that's not really cheating either.
* In the ''VideoGame/XCOMEnemyUnknown'' expansion Enemy Within, dealing with humans terrorists and saboteurs known as EXALT involves a NoGearLevel... For the covert operative you send after them, who needs to be as inconspicuous as possible, and as such can only bring a {{handgun}} and two items with him/her, and is forced to go without armor (which includes PowerArmor) or main weapon ([[ShotgunsAreJustBetter a shotgun]], an assault rifle or a SniperRifle, depending on class). The extraction team send to rescue him/her after his/her cover is blown is free to pack as much heat as a supernova though.
* King Graham in ''VideoGame/KingsQuestVAbsenceMakesTheHeartGoYonder'' is a downplayed EmpoweredBadassNormal. The magical fruit he ate in the previous game not only cured him of his fatal illness, but also gave him strength far beyond what [[BadassGrandpa his age]] should allow. However, his abilities are exactly as they were when the series began. [[spoiler:This is no longer downplayed when he learns Iconomancy.]]
* ''VideoGame/DisgaeaHourOfDarkness'' downplays ForcedTutorial on a NewGamePlus: you're still forced to do the tutorial, but it's really one very quick level that you'll most likely finish with just one move.
* ''Franchise/BaldursGate'' downplays MySpeciesDothProtestTooMuch with [[TokenEvilTeammate Viconia]]. Your regular MSDPTM drow is a ChaoticGood Eilistraee worshipper. Viconia, on the other hand, is a NeutralEvil cleric of Shar, but fell from grace with the drow society for invoking EvenEvilHasStandards while she was an initiate for the much more evil Lolth. Still, she's an angel compared to your typical drow, especially those you meet in ''Shadows of Amn''.
* ''VideoGame/BaldursGateIIShadowsOfAmn'' downplays CardCarryingVillain with the BigBad, Irenicus. He doesn't brag about being evil but knows that people views him as such so he doesn't bother denying it, enough to tell in your face that you "warrant no villain's exposition" from him.

[[folder:Web Animation]]
* ''Machinima/RedVsBlue'' downplays OutdatedOutfit with Caboose, who opted to stick with his Halo 1 armor and weapon when every other main character was upgrading to Halo 3. His armor is only outdated in-universe, while to viewers not familiar with the games he just looks like a custom loadout.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Some of the contestants in ''WebVideo/MovieFights'' have been assigned with [[RedBaron Badass nicknames]], such as Alicia Malone "The Red Fury", and Dan "The Mad Man" Murrell. However, these names are used so sparingly throughout the show that the less attentive audiences would probably not even know they have them.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'' downplayed ImplausibleDeniability in ''Into the Wild Green Yonder'', when the head of the robot mafia isn't denying his wife stole his lucky foot. He's just insisting they need more evidence when the evidence so far is conclusive.
* ''WesternAnimation/TransformersPrime'' downplayed PinkMeansFeminine by making Arcee blue, with just pink touches.
* Similarly, ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic's'' Princess Celestia downplays PrincessesPreferPink, as she only has a pink outline and pink strands in her hair; she is mostly white. Not that you'd know it, looking at the earliest toys based on her, which depicted her with a ''pink'' coat instead of a white one. Thankfully, with the arrival of Princess Cadance, a princess who really ''is'' pink, Celestia is now free to have the ''first'' toy that actually looks like her made ''years'' after her introduction.
* ''WesternAnimation/GravityFalls'':
** GravityIsAHarshMistress is downplayed. When Dipper and Mabel run off a cliff, they fall down at a realistic speed, but instead of falling forward in an arc, they go straight forward, then down.
** The pair also downplay HalfIdenticalTwins: they're almost the exact same in terms of height, face and body type, but have different hair styles and outfits, as well as [[DifferentAsNightAndDay personalities]]. (Also, Mabel wears braces while Dipper has a birthmark hidden under his bangs.)