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"Well, lad, the brain be a funny thing. Sometimes, it just stops workin' right when ye've been through a bad scene."
Heroic Blue Screen of Death: An earth-shattering revelation or horrible event affects the hero or someone he cares deeply about, leaving him flummoxed or shocked to the point of mentally shutting down for a while, like a Despair Event Horizon
, except temporary instead of permanent. Alternatively, if this occurs during a fight with one of the Big Bad
's minions, the hero may have a violent outburst
, with the ensuing catastrophe killing Evil Minions
and knocking his companions in different directions. In the latter case, the hero may disappear into the fog of war and have to be tracked down by his friends and given a heaping helping of Epiphany Therapy
. Joseph Campbell identified Death, Descent to the Underworld,
as important stages of the Hero's Journey
, but in settings where it's impossible for the hero to literally die and come back to life, a Heroic BSOD is the more realistic equivalent —that is, the Descent to the Underworld is a metaphor for it.
Reasons for the BSOD vary, but usually involves something that shakes the very core of the character's being. Classic examples include losing a loved one (especially one that the character failed to protect or save
); discovering that the character is not who he thought he was
; being betrayed by someone the character cared about
; being forced to go against a personal code, core belief, or deep abiding reason to live; being delivered a nasty Breaking Speech
by a particularly crafty villain; being drafted into a war
; having their mind broken
; or failing miserably at something that everything was riding on
. First kills (intentional or otherwise) may also trigger this, especially if the character was previously depicted as innocent, though other tropes such as These Hands Have Killed
The result is a Thousand-Yard Stare
, one of the visible symptoms, or a form of non-consensual 10-Minute Retirement
. The aftermath may cause the hero to become emotionally comatose
, obsessive and guilt-ridden
, or in really bad cases, a jaded
. The most literal BSOD effect would be catatonia. Go Mad from the Revelation
is the even more severe form, where the BSOD becomes outright psychosis. Such personality changes may also scare the hell out of people who are now worried the hero is as much a danger as the villain was
. If the incident happened before the story takes place, it provides a rationale for him to be the Shell-Shocked Senior
Compare Freak Out
. In Real Life
psychology, this is known as an acute stress reaction
, which is related to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The best thing that can happen to a person suffering from a Heroic BSOD
is meeting a friendly Warrior Therapist
, or for an extra layer of awesome, getting rebooted with percussive force
. Meeting a hostile Warrior Therapist
, on the other hand, is the worst
thing that can happen to them, as they'd make damn sure
that the character crashes completely
. If they don't meet either of these, they are quite likely to end up in the long-term version Safety In Indifference
where they are functional but emotionally cut off
Hope Is Scary
is a frequent reaction to the beginning of recovery.
The villain version of a Heroic BSOD
is a Villainous Breakdown
, which often involves the villain going completely crazy instead of shutting down, or Villainous BSOD
, where the villain grows a conscience and reacts accordingly.
A subtrope of Heroic BSOD
is the Angst Coma
, which specifically refers to entering a comatose or catatonic state as opposed to other forms of mental breakdown. A related trope is Heroic Safe Mode
, where the hero "defaults" to a fight or flight mindset before rebooting in safety.
Named in honor of the infamous Blue Screen of Death
, common term for the Microsoft Windows error that indicates that the system has screwed itself big time and must be rebooted. A particularly literal version would include a character (preferably a supercomputer or such AIs
) literally getting the infamous Blue Screen Of Death.
is what happens when the character recovers from a Heroic BSOD
and returns to being the person he or she used to be. It is usually accompanied by a "World of Cardboard" Speech
. If the character never recovers from the Heroic BSOD
or abandons his cause or moral outlook because of it, however, they've fallen over the Despair Event Horizon
. Alone in a Crowd
typically requires a milder form of Heroic BSOD
Compare Heroic RROD
(the physical equivalent). One common reaction is I Think You Broke Him
. Characters can attempt to reboot the affected character by performing a Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!
or telling them to Quit Your Whining
. Compare Deer in the Headlights
Examples go on subpages: