Bob may have opinions, but he doesn't act on them if someone disagrees. Instead, he will follow their instructions or advice. This someone might be anyone, a single person that he is dependent on, or the prevailing attitudes in society. Then Bob starts to trust and act on his own judgment, and begins to go his own way. Bob earlier had no independent judgment in relation to some external factor, and this is the growth and expression of his own judgment: he's growing a spine.

This is a form of CharacterDevelopment, and often a defining moment in a RiteOfPassage. It's also a staple of a ComingOfAgeStory, where it does not necessarily mean that Bob has more [[HeroicResolve resolve]] than earlier, but rather that he has learned to follow his own independent judgments. It might be lousy judgment, but at least he has started to develop and act on it.

As a trope, this can take two forms:

# A plot arc for a character. This is the long and slow variety.
# A single scene, where the character unambiguously chooses their own way in a plot-relevant fashion.

Grew a Spine is normally a big part of a ComingOfAgeStory, and can be assumed to be included as part of that. Please only include such examples if Grew a Spine is the major part of the ComingOfAgeStory.

Some starting points for Grew a Spine is ExtremeDoormat or ShrinkingViolet, but the character might just be inexperienced and unsure of themselves. After all, this is all part of growing up. May coincide with TookALevelInBadass or SuddenPrincipledStand. Has nothing to do with the evolution of vertebrate animals.



[[folder: Anime]]
* ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion'': Shinji tries to be more self-assertive and confident throughout the series. It backfires horribly until the very end, where his determination to live no matter how much life sucks finally lets him [[EarnYourHappyEnding earn a happy ending]]. [[note]] Congratulations! [[/note]]
** In Rebuild 2.22, Shinji both [[GrewASpine grows a spine]]and [[TookALevelInBadass takes several levels in Badass]] during the battle against Zeruel. It doesn't end well for Zeruel, who becomes Unit-01's dinner. [[spoiler:The repercussions of Shinji actually growing a spine for once, however, include humanity being reduced to a fraction of that it used to be.]]
*** In Rebuild 3.33, Shinji has his newly-grown spine broken and grows a new one by the end, [[spoiler:as he tries to undo the damage done by Near-Third Impact. In true EVA-style, however, he ends up starting Fourth Impact in the process, and further reduces humanity to what is implied to be the cast of FINAL. It remains to be seen how horribly things will truly turn out in FINAL, though.]]
* Yukiteru of ''MiraiNikki''. Quite appropriate since he is an {{Expy}} of Shinji. [[spoiler:And exactly like Shinji, this [[SanitySlippage backfires horribly]], until he manages to [[EarnYourHappyEnding earn his]] ''[[BittersweetEnding almost]]'' [[EarnYourHappyEnding happy ending]].]]
* Hiroko in ''Manga/AKB49RenaiKinshiJourei'' opposed her FantasyForbiddingFather for the first time in her life after he demanded her to quit her aspirations as an IdolSinger and she refused, which led to her father estranging her and her gaining even more resolve than before to pursue her dreams.

[[folder: Comics]]
* In the "Outer Dark" arc of ''ComicBook/TheAuthority'', Swift, who's normally more gung-ho, decides to oppose one of Jenny Sparks' orders, as following it might lead to the unnecessary deaths of aliens that might be considered civilians. In "The Nativity", she also forces a truce between the Authority and Krigstein that gives the latter control over the Southeast Asian government that the Authority recently overthrew, in order to avoid a long, drawn-out conflict in which Krigstein's forces were more than willing to kill civilians.
* Klak from ''ComicBook/PocketGod'' is a ButtMonkey who gets no respect from the tribe. However when he starts hanging out with the more assertive Moon, he starts to stand up for himself more often.

[[folder: Film]]
* Luke leaving Yoda's training in ''TheEmpireStrikesBack'' to save Han and Leia.
* This is a big part of Raven's character development in ''Film/XMenFirstClass''. [[spoiler: The downside is she joins the wrong side in doing so, foresaking the only family she's ever known.]]
* Todd in [[DeadPoetsSociety Dead Poets Society]] goes from [[ShrinkingViolet extremely shy and incapable of speaking up for himself]] to [[spoiler: the first student to stand on his desk in support of Mr Keating when the latter is fired.]]
* Near the end of ''Film/SchoolOfRock'', Ned the perpetual pushover is getting chewed out by his girlfriend for his spinelessness. Right when she asks if he's ever going to get around to standing up for himself, he interrupts her by heading off to the concert that she didn't want him to go to. Many of the kids also grow spines in a more gradual way, by learning to defy their overly strict parents.
* At the end of ''Film/TheHangover'', Stu finally stands up to his overbearing girlfriend Melissa, even going so far as to dump her.
* In ''Film/SeparateTables'', this is the conclusion of the character arc for Sybil, the ShrinkingViolet dominated by her bitchy MyBelovedSmother. Her hesitant romance with Major Pollock, a fellow guest at the hotel, is wrecked when her mother humiliates Pollock, exposing him as a PhonyVeteran and a CovertPervert who was caught hitting on women in darkened theaters. After Major Pollock comes down for breakfast, Sibyl's mom makes a show of leaving the hotel dining room, and demands Sibyl leave with heróbut for the first time Sibyl defies "Mummy", remaining at her seat and insisting on welcoming Major Pollock for breakfast.

[[folder: Literature]]
* In the Literature/VorkosiganSaga:
** In ''Shards of Honor'', this is combined with SuddenPrincipledStand when Sergeant Bothari refuses to rape [[spoiler: Cordelia]] as per Admiral Vorrutyer's orders.
--> "She's Commodore Vorkosigan's prisoner. Sir."
** Ekaterin in ''Komarr'' and ''A Civil Campaign'', though it is probably better to say that she found and nurtured the spine, rather than grew it.
* William de Worde Grew a Spine relative his father in ''Discworld/TheTruth''. An example of the ComingOfAgeStory variant.
* In ''Literature/ChroniclesOfTheKencyrath'':
** Donkerri ordering the Caineron troops to their posts in the end-battle in ''Dark of the Moon'', countermanding his grandfather's orders.
** A plot arc for Torisen in his relation to Adric Lord Ardeth in the same book.
* PeterPaysTribute has the main character, Matt, and his counter-part Peter, both learn how to stand up to their father-figure.
* ''Literature/EllaEnchanted'' is a concrete-metaphor version of this, where the protagonist has been magically compelled to be a pushover.
* In ''On Basilisk Station'', the first ''Literature/HonorHarrington'' novel, Alistair [=McKeon=] has a strange variety. He proposes a moral course which is promptly discarded as wrong, but the very act of making an independent proposal against TheCaptain and arguing for it was a key in developing the dynamic between the characters.
* This is the main character development arc for the protagonist of ''DocSidhe''.
* A minor plot point (and [[KudzuPlot one of many]]) in ''TheWheelOfTime''. Nynaeve is infuriated that the Kin are helplessly deferential to the Aes Sedai despite being technically independent and in many ways more learned. She endeavours considerably to get them to collectively "grow some backbone" and stand up for themselves, and they gradually do... to her, [[HilarityEnsues which is not remotely]] [[HypocriticalHumor what she intended]].
%% * This is Tris's character arc in ''Literature/{{Divergent}}'', as she's initiated into a community of brave and reckless adrenaline junkies.
* ''[[Literature/AMagesPower A Mage's Power]]'' The premise of the story is Tasio trying to invoke this on Eric, the ExtremeDoormat. Being a TricksterArchetype, he does this by promising Eric help, then dropping Eric in mercenary company and (seemingly) abandoning him. The unsaid message is "grow a spine or lose your head." [[spoiler: The definitive moment of growth is when he refuses to be bribed by an orc attempting to rape a friend of his, and instead, kills said orc. Tasio arranged for this scene.]]

[[folder: Live-Action TV]]
* In one episode of ''Series/HeadOfTheClass'' Jawarhalal (an Indian student) is suddenly well known for agreeing with everyone about everything. Then the class goes to see Mr. Moore's off-off-off-Broadway post-[[{{Postmodernism}} post-Modern]] production of ''{{Hamlet}}''. Everybody hates it except Jawarhalal, who defends it to everyone. They're so caught up in trying to prove him wrong that until the end of the episode they never ask him why he likes it and don't notice that he's disagreeing with them, counter to his personality.

[[folder: Mythology]]
* In some interpretations, Adam and Eve eating the [[ForbiddenFruit fruit of knowledge]].

[[folder: Video Games]]
* Yuna from ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX''. Although it does take a healthy amount of spine to become a Summoner in the first place, learning how to have desires for herself rather than the greater good of Spira is a big part of her CharacterDevelopment.
* "[[VideoGame/WarcraftIII Ah, my wayward pet, Garithos. I see you've grown a spine since we last met.]]" Technically the mind control spell the dreadlords put on Garithos was broken, but evidently he lacked the HeroicWillpower to defend himself aginst it in the first place.
* In the ''VideoGame/SaintsRowTheThird'' [[DownloadableContent DLC]] "Gangstas in Space", The Boss's co-star in the titular film is a girl named Jenny who starts off as an [[AscendedFanboy Ascended Fangirl]] feeling powerless in the face of the {{Jerkass}} director repeatedly lambasting her for breaking character and not following his directions to a T, while ignoring The Boss doing the same. She gets more resentful as the storyline progresses, notably killing two of the five girls hired to replace her before [[KarmicDeath straight up murdering the director using the modified VTOL that you pilot in the third mission]].
* In ''VideoGame/RatchetAndClankUpYourArsenal'', the otherwise usually cowardly Galactic Rangers appear during the second phase of the fight against [[BigBad Dr. Nefarious]] to help Ratchet destroy his minions.

[[folder: Visual Novels]]
* In ''VisualNovel/KatawaShoujo'', this happens to Hisao in Shizune and Lilly's routes. In Shizune's route, while attempting to stand up to Shizune's father in an argument over the Student Council, he reflects on how much he has changed, wondering why he was so resistant to joining the Student Council at first despite his general apathy about life. In Lilly's route, he realizes in the Good Ending that he has relied on her for everything, and so [[spoiler:decides to confront her one last time before her departure for Scotland in order to apologize for not being there when she needed him]].
** Also happens for Hanako in her route: slowly through awkward relationship-building in the Good path, and abruptly in the Bad one. In the latter, [[spoiler:Hisao gets excessively pushy, so she furiously tells him how much she hates it when people treat her like she's helpless...[[WhatTheHellHero and how much she hates Hisao and Lilly for failing to understand that]]]]. Some people think her "Neutral" ending is the worst one, because it's the only version where she ''doesn't'' grow a spine.
* ''VisualNovel/LittleBusters'' is largely the story of how Riki--a rather nervous, passive, and feminine boy totally content to live [[AlwaysSecondBest in the shadow of his friends]]--manages to, over the routes, grow into a more independent and strong person. [[spoiler:In fact, it's the very basis of the story--Kyousuke created this world specifically so he and Rin could become strong enough to live on without him after he and the others died in a bus crash]].

[[folder: Web Comics]]
* Tavros Nitram from ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'' finally stands up to Vriska and actually goes to fight her when he learns [[spoiler:she created Bec Noir. Too bad it gets him killed]].

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Taylor in ''Literature/{{Worm}}'' becomes a lot more able to assert herself after she begins kicking large amounts of ass in her supervillain identity, Skitter.

[[folder: Western Animation]]
* Edd of ''WesternAnimation/EdEddNEddy'' had a few moments of this, notably in "The Day The Ed Stood Still" when he scolds Edzilla (who is Ed in a monster costume) for [[MakesJustAsMuchSenseInContext kidnapping the kids and sticking them onto his wall]].
** Ed lashes out at [[SpoiledBrat Sarah]] in "Little Ed Blue" when she starts one of her typical (violent) tantrums. She cowers in terror before him.
** In "A Fistful of Ed", Eddy does what he couldn't do in "A Twist of Ed": stand up to the Kanker Sisters. ''And it works''.
* In ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'', [[ShrinkingViolet Fluttershy]] does this after assertive training under the minotaur Iron Will. [[TookALevelInJerkass She takes it a little too far]] [[GoneHorriblyRight for a while, though]].
* Stacy from ''WesternAnimation/{{Daria}}'' began to become more confident during the show's final season, and in the series finale, [[spoiler: she finally stood up to [[AlphaBitch Sandi]] for all the abuse she put her through and inadvertently caused the Fashion Club to crumble.]]