"When the FBI goes looking for Ecks, for example, they find him sitting morosely on a bar stool, drinking and smoking. That is of course always where sad former agents are found, but the strange thing is, after years of drinking, he is still in great shape, has all his karate moves, and goes directly into violent action without even a tiny tremor of DTs."
Much like the Informed Ability, an Informed Flaw is a Fatal Flaw that simply doesn't have any effect on the plot or character. It can come up in one of two forms:
The narrative tells us about a flaw, whether it be through a character, the narration, or some other source. Said flaw then doesn't materialize and nobody would have ever thought of it if the segment describing said flaw was removed.
Alternatively, the flaw in question might be showcased as an Establishing Character Moment. After their first scene (where it will usually be pretty contrived and blunt), it will evaporate for the rest of the work. Think Compressed Vice, only compressed to a single scene and not given any natural resolution.
In either case, the defining part is the total abandonment of the flaw after its introduction, with it playing no role and thus having no importance. Often, it comes about because a character is decided to be too unrealistic, so they add in a token flaw or two to add some flavor. Other times, it's just to pad out some of the length. However, most of the time, it's a result of careless rewrites.
Infallible Babble ensures that it's never a case where the characters talking about his flaw are misinformed, or spiteful.
This is often seen as a Mary Sue trait, especially when it's a flaw that would actually be pretty awesome were it not for the consequences (e.g. substance abuse, nymphomania, etc.).
Clumsiness is by far the most popular of the informed flaws, since it can be showcased once (so that another character can heroically save them) and then doesn't affect the plot or actually detract from the character's personality or motivations for the rest of the narrative. Alternatively it can be used a few times for comedic effect but can also be ignored as the plot demands.
Disabilities, especially milder, inconsistent or not readily visible disabilities, very often turn into informed flaws. They are milked for Angst at various moments, without interfering with the character's ability to do the things the plot expects them to do.
Remember that Tropes Are Tools - many examples on the page are negative, but that does not make the trope negative in nature. (See Playing With).
A Sub-Trope of Informed Attribute and Show, Don't Tell, and a Super Trope of Hollywood Homely, Hollywood Pudgy, Hollywood Dateless, Gorgeous Gorgon, and Tin Man. Related to Informed Ability, Suetiful All Along and Anti-Sue. Contrast with I Am Not Left-Handed, Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass, and Obfuscating Stupidity.
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Anime & Manga
The 4Kids dub of Yu-Gi-Oh5Ds gives Yusei a phobia of bugs for apparently no other reason than to add an element of fear to his episode 2 duel against an Insect duelist - despite the fact that his character shows no outward signs of being afraid of bugs at all.
In Sonic X, in a rather shabby attempt to make Chris Thorndyke likable, he often complains about being rich meaning he doesn't have any real friends, and his parents never being home. While at first this seems almost true, over the course of the show he is shown to have more human friends, more guardians, and his parents repeatedly manage to show up for special occasions. Being obscenely wealthy is certainly never played as a disadvantage.
In one of the episodes of Sailor Moon, Usagi lists a bunch of her faults, one of them is flat-chested. Have the writers actually seen any art of the show?!
Then there's a later episode where the Monster of the Week and Chibi-Usa both agree that she's fat. In reality, her proportions are more exaggeratedly thin than Barbie's even though she's constantly portrayed as a lazy Big Eater.
The topic of Usagi's weight actually comes up more than once in the show; apparently, Naoko Takeuchi originally intended Usagi to be slightly chubbier than the rest of the girls. Not that you can tell by the actual graphics. As for flat-chested-ness, well, there's always Huge Schoolgirl Makoto to compare (who actually used her bust sizetalent as an argument for getting the lead role in a stage play). Too bad these in-universe comparisons don't exactly match those made by the viewers who are used to real-world proportions.
In Elfen Lied, we're told Lucy's vectors only have a range of two meters, but judging from visual estimates, she often extends them a good few meters further. This can be explained as Lucy holding back, or it could just be a mistake.
The two meters was used as a plot point, in that she's unable to reach people who stand beyond that (though, when this happens, she just throws things so it's pretty pointless). She wouldn't be holding back, it's just an artist error.
In the manga, at least, it's also stated that Lucy's powers are still growing, and quickly at that. Later opponents realize quickly that she's outgrown the "two meters" limitation a long time ago.
In Fairy Tail, Juvia is ostracized and treated poorly all her life because wherever she is, it never stops raining. She always carries an umbrella because the rain won't stop. The next arc after her first appearance is a Beach Episode where she's present and it's not raining at all, nor does it rain around her for many many chapters. Nobody, including Juvia, appears to even notice this or comment on the fact that Juvia doesn't even bother carrying her umbrella around anymore.
Josuke is afraid of turtles. You only hear of this in the beginning when first introduced to him and it could have been used as a tactic against him by Kira, like having an enemy Stand that turned things into turtles or even just resembled one.
In Beelzebub, Furuichi is revealed to have the highest standardized test score at Ishiyama High (where studying is hated "180 percent!")...a 59 (though Oga pointed out no one knows what it was out of, it's assumed 100). Furuichi himself is often shown to be smarter (as are other characters like Himekawa and Natsume), and none of the class mentioned any grade trouble one moving to Ishiyama Academy (though they might not have been graded, it was a temp thing...and the teachers were terrified of them...).
Most chalk the episode up to Rule of Funny, which the series usually runs on.
In One Piece, Trafalgar Law was stated to be a coldly cruel pirate and even Kidd was wary of the rumours surrounding him. From what we have seen, he appears to have a friendly relationship with his crew, took pity on an enslaved pirate captain and risked his life to save Luffy for no particular reason. Then post-timeskip, we find out his "resume" to join the Seven Warlords of the Sea - extracting and delivering 100 pirate hearts.
Musashi's kicks in Eyeshield21 are supposedly powerful with the drawback that he isn't entirely accurate. Yet he never missed a single kick in the series (apart from a flashback where Shin had directly blocked it). Even his rival Kotaro who is known for his 100% accuracy instead of power misses a pivotal kick.
Code Geass: Both the series and the promotional material repeatedly insist that Lelouch is lacking in athletic prowess; yet he is no more nonathletic than his classmates, or the average person of his stature for that matter.
It does seem to come up in one non-serious episode in the the second season for the purpose of a gag, where Lelouch is outrun by Milly Ashford in a large, poofy dress. Otherwise, his lack of athleticism never seems to negatively affect him, except in comparison to the extremely fast and strong Suzaku, who seems to be inhumanly so. Oh, and he likes to skip gym class.
Kirito in Sword Art Online is a bit of a variation. His main flaw is supposedly his suicidal bravery; but whenever he tries to heroically defeat a foe that's no match for him, he succeeds, and his crazed self-destructive attack always turns out to be the best course of action. The characters who say that his behavior is foolish apparently just aren't sufficiently Genre Savvy.
In Angel Beats!, the other characters think Yui is a mediocre singer, especially if she tries to play a guitar at the same time. But her singing voice is that of LiSA, a talented pop vocalist (who does not attempt Hollywood Tone Deafness for the role), so this is kind of hard to believe.
X-Men villain Sabretooth is color-blind. If you just said "Really?" that's because it hasn't come up in decades.
When "he" first appears in New Avengers a sharp-eyed reader might notice that the mysterious character Ronin seems to be ignoring Spider-Man and Iron Man. This makes sense when it's revealed that Ronin is actually Echo - a deaf woman - who can't lip-read someone whose mask/helmet covers their mouth ... unfortunately, once that's revealed, Echo's deafness seems to go away; she even replies to comments made by people facing away from her.
In The Umbrella Academy, Alison, The Rumor, is described as being narcissistic. Now, we have never seen her being narcissistic on her adult ages, nor on her younger years. That she lost her narcissism growing up, could be acceptable.
Averted heavily in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Quatermain is called a drug addict, and he is a drug addict; he spends weeks going through painful withdrawal, abandons his first mission to go buy drugs, and he outright states that Jekyll's presence was the only thing stopping him from using when they walked into an opium den. Even over a century later he quickly regresses to using when Mina disappears.
An early Superman Christmas story shows us an older boy who's supposed to be spoiled and unappreciative of his wealth, but the actual writing shows him as no worse than sheltered, and far from being unappreciative of his many toys, he's surfeited, and wants to move on to real things, which is perfectly normal and reasonable for a twelve year old.
Zipi y Zape: The twins have bad publicity and some stories show the citizens running away in panic from Zipi and Zape as if they were terrorists or horrible monsters. In reality, Zipi and Zape are two of the nicest characters in the comics, and they always want to help people.
Besides, their father is always telling off his children how they are going to fail at every possible way in their life. He doesn't seem to realizehowincrediblyintelligent they are. Come on, in one story they even managed to create a vaporizer able to enlarge or shrink objects!
The bad publicity may be due to Characterization Marches On. In earlier stories, the twins were slightly more mischievous and more prone to perform pranks such as tying cans to dog tails. In later stories (the ones that are easier to find and everyone remembers), this trait is dropped, but the citizens' reaction to their pranks isn't.
A Pikachu in Love gives us the other Pokemon considering Pikachu the 'teachers pet' of the team due to being Ash's favorite. At most, this is only elaborated on once or twice, and we don't see any of the other Pokemon in the fic treating him as such.
Seems to happen a lot with original characters in fanfiction. When beginning writers hear the ubiquitous advice that "a balanced character needs flaws", they typically either default to "safe" flaws like being unable to sing, or introduce a flaw that should have devastating consequences but is only ever used as a virtue, such as having a bad temper.
For example, Ronan of Naruto Veangance Revelaitons, has two flaws listed; he has a mole on his face, and he can't do housework. In the Official Mary Sue Litmus Test, he has over six times the point threshold at which the test says a character is a lost cause.
Snap and Loopin in the infamous My Immortal story. Apparently, they are pedophiles. Ebony is of legal age. Also, they are apparently very dangerous. The only thing they do that presents a direct danger to anyone at all is when Snap tries to rape Draco, twice. But Loopin doesn't do anything, and is actually somewhat polite with Ebony.
There's also Dumblydore's frequent "headaches" which are apparently the source for his frequent meanness. More likely, they are just a lame excuse for his incredibly OOC behaviors.
The Naruto fanfic For Your Eyes Only describes Sakura as being the type who Really Gets Around, which isn't really even much of a flaw in the first place but is treated like one. She violently rejects the only male to speak with her onscreen, only ever flirts with one male offscreen and is killed for it. We never even hear her point of view on this, as she doesn't get so much as a word of dialogue.
In The Prayer Warriors, we are told that the Prayer Warriors don't murder, unlike the Satanists. Never mind that the vast majority of the deaths in the story are someone being murdered by a Prayer Warrior, and the relative few that aren't are often Prayer Warriors being killed while trying to kill someone else.
Pink Personal Hell And Altering Fate plays this a little differently - Nickel Steel doesn't believe he's good at magic despite having a "magic" Cutie Mark. Actually, that's just him not being sure enough of himself - meaning his flaw isn't that he's unskilled at magic, moreso that he's just not sure of himself.
Screenwriter Steve Kloves said that the reason Hermione Granger became his favorite Harry Potter character was due to her having "no idea" of the effect she has on people, suggesting a certain degree of social ineptitude, yet this trait never seems to come up in any of the films, where she seems quite capable of socializing with others, despite being a supposedly bookish nerd.
In Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever, Jeremiah Ecks is introduced as an alcoholic that spent the previous couple years getting sloshed in bars. Apparently, not only did it not reduce his physical prowess at all, but he didn't even need any time to sober up.
The Russian animated movie Ilya Muromets and Nightingale the Robber draws attention to Ilya's superstitiousness for about its first half, and then it's forgotten and has no effect on the plot when the characters get to Constantinople.
The film adaptation of Twilight has Bella's purported clumsiness displayed in a throw-away scene where she slips and falls on wet steps only to be caught by her father.
In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Eddie Valiant seems to be healthy enough for five years of alcoholism, though the chili dogs have clearly had some effect on his stomach.
Averted in Die Hard With A Vengeance, in which McClane, established as being only "one step away from becoming a full-blown alcoholic" enters the story with a splitting headache from the previous night's drinking, and spends the entire day bitching about his "bad fucking hangover". He still retains his badass moves, though. It even proves a help when as a "last request" he asks the Big Bad if he has any aspirin for his headache: he does, provided by the hotel he was staying at.
In The Broadway Melody, the two main characters, a sister act, each have one. There's the "attractive but untalented one" (who seems every bit as good a dancer and singer as the other) and the "talented but plain one" (who is not even a little plain).
In Thor, Loki is said to be "sometimes mischievous", possibly as a nod to the mythological character he's based on. Except he's deadly serious and never does anything you could consider to be mischievous except in the absolute loosest sense of the word. His pranks were cut from the theatrical release and only included in the Extended Cut.
The protagonist in the pro-life film October Baby is a survivor of a botched abortion, and is said to have depression, epilepsy, asthma, and a childhood full of hip surgeries. Throughout the film she never exhibits any symptoms of the first two, never uses the inhaler after a couple of scenes in the opening act, and doesn't walk with any sign of a limp (and in fact spends hours dragging around a heavy suitcase).
Daniel Craig's James Bond is described by an M16 psychiatrist in Skyfall as being an alcoholic and addicted to painkillers, as well as being deemed out of shape and failing in his marksmanship. The only flaws that are truly followed through in the film are his failing aim and fitness due to his Achey Scars, both of which are dropped by the end of the second act. He's never shown as being drunk, high, or suffering from withdrawals while on the job.
Not!Deadpool from X-Men Origins: Wolverine is supposedly a really big talker. But we never really see it. He cracks a few jokes, and only a few, and they are few and far between. And once was just to break an awkward silence. Nothing out of the ordinary, especially when compared to his comics counterpart. It just feels like a reference to said counterpart more than anything else.
Played for Laughs in Being John Malkovich. Dr. Lester apologises for his horrendous speech impediment when in fact he has no impediment whatsoever; he just thinks he does because his secretary is extremely hard of hearing and mishears everything he says.
In The Great Outdoors (the American film, not the BBC miniseries) we're told several times that Roman's daughters are weird and creepy, and the theme from The Twilight Zone plays when they enter a scene. We're never shown why they would be considered weird or creepy (aside from being identical twins, which in itself is pretty mundane).
Tom and John's father in The Great Brain books has a reputation for buying new inventions that turn out to be worthless, but it never happens in any of the stories. He orders a flush toilet in the first book that works, to everyone's surprise, and gives John a basketball and backboard that make him the most popular kid in town.
In the Pellucidar novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs there are a race of gorilla-like humanoids called Sagoths. In the book it is stated a few times that Sagoths are inferior to humans in intelligence. However, none of the Sagoth characters appear to be particularly stupid, the Sagoth guard captain in the second book is able to see through a human's ruses and the Sagoth that Tarzan befriends in the fourth book seems to be of at least average intelligence.
Sherlock Holmes' drug use is this in the first few books. Naturally, since A. it wasn't really all that out of the ordinary for the time, at least for those of Holmes' bohemian lifestyle. B. He mainly does it from boredom when he doesn't have a case, and the stories are all about cases. and C. Watson eventually gets him to kick the habit, it just doesn't come up. Adaptations, like The Seven Percent Solution love to push the angle for all its worth.
Also, Watson lists several "vices" in the first book, which include being lazy, hating arguments and noise, and getting up at odd hours at night. Seeing as how he's a Shell-Shocked Veteran recovering from being wounded and ill, these hardly count as vices and do not appear in later stories after he recovers. He also says that he has "another set of vices when I'm well", none of which are ever actually depicted in the stories either (there are subtle allusions that hint that these mysterious vices may include gambling and possibly womanizing, but they are never shown).
Ellery Queen wrote four novels in the 1930s featuring retired Shakespearean actor Drury Lane. Lane was forced to retire from the stage when he became totally deaf. One wonders why, when Lane routinely does perfect voice imitations of people he never met before losing his hearing on the first try.
A Song of Ice and Fire plays with this trope regarding bastards. Sometimes they're implied to be the lowest of the low - even wildings use the word 'bastard' as an insult to them, and bastards are also known as 'baseborn'. Yet we're also told that their life is usually easier than a common person, and it's far from uncommon to see bastards win knighthoods or command armies.
The Sword of Truth series supposedly has Richard behave as something of a Deadpan Snarker, whose mouth sometimes writes checks his ass can't cash. Most often this flaw is mentioned only in its absence, where the author states that Richard was tempted to say something snarky, but managed to keep it under control. You can count on one hand with fingers left over the number of times in the entire series where Richard actually spits out some quip that he ends up regretting.
For a guy who claims he was far too squeamish to finish medical school, Escott from The Vampire Files seems awfully at-ease with collecting bottles full of cow blood for Jack every couple of books or even letting Jack bite his wrist when he's really horrifically injured.
Because the universe of the series runs on tropes, the cop protagonist Vimes of Discworld is naturally described as being a Noble Bigot with a Badge, but this is never really born out. While he's presented as bigoted in a Hates Everyone Equally way, he never uses racial slurs in the way his model Dirty Harry did, and the series actually has a bigoted cop, Colon, who behaves and thinks quite differently from Vimes. In fact, not only are there scenes showing Vimes reacting negatively to bigotry, but part of the plot in Jingo only works because Vimes had a politically correct mindset.
According to Pratchett, Vimes thinks he is a much worse person than he is, because he's aware of all the impulses he tries to curb... much like everyone else.
Vimes is always the first and loudest to object to new species being added to the Watch, but this can be gotten around by either Vetinari insisting really heavily or by Vimes seeing a member of a minority being mistreated or particularly brave (often by them getting involved in the plot).
Also, once somebody is a member of the Watch, they're under Vimes' protection and he will do his best to protect them.
The Star Trek novel "Immortal Coil" has android antagonists who are supposedly incapable of applying the information they gather to personal growth or change. Yet either their personalities have profoundly altered since their creation, or the (organic) Old Ones were profoundly stupid to craft a race of androids with an obsessive hatred of non-cybernetic life and then go on depending on those androids for more than the time it takes to switch them off or pick up a firearm.
Jeeves and Wooster: Bertie Wooster claims to have terrible luck with women in general, only being able to attract a certain type. It seems that that type is the only one who ever shows up in the stories.
Annabeth's fatal flaw is said to be hubris, but she gets in more trouble from complex abandonment issues that result in irrational distrust of people who have done nothing to deserve it (particularly Percy and her father) and exaggerated devotion to distant parental figures who treat her like crap (particularly her mother and Luke.) Percy's fatal flaw is said to be personal loyalty, but he gets in a lot more trouble from his big mouth and recklessness.
Bianca, as a child of Hades, is said to have a fatal flaw of holding grudges, but it never really shows up, though the book doesn't have much of a chance to show it before her death.
Diana is apparently a "slut" (author's words, not mine) who really gets around, which is admitted by even Diana herself. In fact, in previous books she even wears the label proudly despite many characters (Astrid, Dekka, Brianna, Drake) thinking ill of her for it and making it her main identifier in the series, apart from her being "beautiful and snarky". However, she's only been in a romantic relationship with Caine in the duration of the series, and spent a lot of time declining his advances too. She's never cheated in the series or flirted with anyone but Caine, leading some fans to think this reputation is unfair. Unfortunately can be a case of Truth in Television, seeing as some young girls tend to get labelled by their peers as "sluts" based on appearance and demeanor rather than actions.
Edward Cullen always tells Bella that he's "dangerous" and "she should stay away form him." However everyone knows he would never hurt Bella. The only time where he does hurt her is in New Moon where he broke up with her. But he did it to protect her from him and his vampire family.
Edward also says at a few points that humans find vampires naturally frightening, and thus try to avoid them. Given that the entire town all but hero-worships the Cullens for being so beautiful, mysterious, generous, and so on, that's kind of hard to buy. Of course, we're later told that vampires have physical features meant to lure humans closer, so it could also be a case of the author not being able to make up her mind.
Bella claims that she just doesn't get along with most people, having no friends in Phoenix besides her mother. The instant she gets to Forks, everyone she meets clamors to be her friend. Not to mention that while she insists she's uninteresting, she gets the attention of Edward, who it is stressed had no interest in most folks outside of his vampiric family, ever since his transformation.
Leah is often described as a shrew of the highest order, to the point where Breaking Dawn has Jacob finding it extremely weird to have a civil conversation with her, and everyone agreeing that the miserable life she's living is her own fault. While Leah does say some not nice things, a lot of her "jerkishness", like trying to convince Jacob to stop pursuing Bella because she's getting married, makes a lot of sense. Not to mention that her "shrewish" behavior started after her she lost her fiance to her cousin, turned into a werewolf, went through the stress of her dad dying, and generally had her whole life ruined and screwed up.
Well, that remark to Jacob about killing Bella since she's dying anyway was pretty damn bitchy.
In John Ringo's Paladin of Shadows series, the main character (I hesitate to call him a hero) is said to have degenerative injuries from years in the SEALs that forced him off the teams and out of the Navy itself. Precisely, "degenerative damage in half the major joints in his body and a back that was compacted enough for a fifty-year-old," none of which slows him down at any point. He needs to stretch at the start of the first book, he wakes up stiff halfway through the book, it gets a brief mention once or twice in the second or third books and then is never mentioned again. This wouldn't be that big a deal, but he's not lounging on a beach sipping a drink, he's running and gunning with people half his age.
Friday in Robinson Crusoe is supposed to be an ignorant savage (Crusoe loves that word) from a wretched cannibal tribe. While we do see some cannibals in action, Friday himself is never anything but loyal, brave, kind, intelligent, and handsome - hardly qualities one would associate with a "savage." It's just about impossible to picture him as ever having been The Savage Indian.
Though "savage" at the time, and even up until the beginning of the twentieth century, had very different connotations; it didn't mean brutal like it does now and wasn't derogatory, and in fact had some positive connotations because it was associated with people who were thought to be brave, loyal, etc.; "savages" were just "uncultured" or "uncivilised".
In The Dark Tower, people keep saying that Roland is a slow thinker who lacks imagination, yet he comes up with many an inventive strategy and thinks quickly on his feet in more than a few occasions.
In Enders Game, Bean is claimed to be bad at commanding large armies, but can use a few as precisely as a scalpel. Why he would be bad with large armies is never given any examples past being stated so... until the P.O.V. SequelEnder's Shadow which revealed said trait was in fact a lie to keep Bean from shouldering too many responsibilities because he's Ender's replacement in case he fails.
Live Action TV
In Heroes, for all of Volume 3's talk about Sylar's uncontrollable "hunger", he seems perfectly capable of hanging around and interacting with other supers without popping open their brains to see what makes them tick. This seems to be the case even after he turns back fully to the side of evil (he never chows down on Luke, for example, despite on multiple occasions being given a good reason to do so. Ditto for Doyle, who he must have been lugging around for more than a day). Peter Petrelli, on the other hand, pretty much chops open the head of every single person he meets after acquiring Sylar's ability, despite (unlike Sylar) receiving no apparent tangible benefit from doing so. This becomes even more baffling when Sylar learns how to take powers without killing but decides to do so anyway (it's fun for him), leading one to assume the hunger talk was nonsense and Peter is so thick he felt the compulsion because he thought he would.
How I Met Your Mother has an episode about these. The informedness of each characters' flaws is handwaved by the fact that the theme of the episode was that you often don't notice them until they're pointed out, and eventually learn to love them despite their flaws. Plus, some of the flaws are exaggerations of past behavior of characters, thus not as informed as some examples, other than Lily's, whose flaw of "loud chewing" is never experienced before or after.
In the episode "Jenkins", the gang tells Marshall that he is the "reacher" to Lily's "settler". Which means that Marshall would never get anybody better then Lily. Yet in a past episode, the opposite is true in which it shows a single Marshall getting numbers from other woman and having Lily fail at making out her own and wanting to get back together with Marshall.
Much is made of Q being a liar. For example, Worf in "Déjà Q" says "You have fooled us too often, Q," and Vash in "Q-Less" mentions that the people of the planet Brax believe Q is the god of lies. Yet he almost never lies onscreen.
He also didn't need any flaws to make him less perfect. The whole idea of the character is that he's trouble incarnate (and that we do see onscreen).
Janeway actually subverts this in Q's first appearance on Voyager. When he asks her how she knows he'll keep a promise, she lists off a multitude of his flaws, up to and including introducing the Federation to the Borg, but then adds that he has never been a liar.
In Blood Ties, the main character supposedly has retinitis pigmentosa, which makes her have very poor peripheral vision and night vision - not that it affects her at all after the very first episode. Even if she could see reasonably well in daylight, she should have been blind at night - after all, retinitis pigmentosa is also known as night blindness. But she can easily navigate in a darkened room using a tiny little penlight. In the book series Vicki has serious problems navigating at night. The fact that she can't drive in the dark is a major plot point in the second book.
The pilot episode for No Ordinary Family informs the audience that the family in question is highly dysfunctional and on the edge of fragmenting. The show's framing story is that of the two parents seeking marital counseling in an effort to save their family. However, the 'dysfunctional family' idea is dropped for the rest of the series.
Martin suffers from a bit of this. While he is often described as being cranky and intolerable before moving in with Frasier, flashback episodes generally portray him with the same pleasant, easy-going personality he always has. Likewise, as an active and energetic man for his age, he rarely comes off as crippled enough to justify having a full-time, live-in medical assistant. This was lampshaded to a degree in the episode "Dial M For Martin," where the plot centers around the question of whether Daphne's services are still needed (with a predictably belaboured Reset Button ending).
Similarly, Lilith is usually spoken of as if she is the devil herself. Yet while she is portrayed as a bit emotionless and overly rational, there are no signs of malign intent or immorality that would justify this reputation.
James Berluti on The Practice is supposed to be a less-good lawyer than the other employees at McDonnel-Young. In fact, Bobby pointedly makes everyone except James partner in one day. But while he may lack polish, James seems to have a similar win-loss record as everyone else, and is shown winning cases through sheer relentlessness the partners couldn't match.
Mike And Molly has Mike buying a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air, driving it for several days, showing it off, and then flaws that are supposed to exist before he bought it, like poor transmission peformance, no heat and an exhaust leak show up that no one could have missed in the time he owned it.
Frank Burns of M*A*S*H is stated to be a terrible surgeon despite being one of the camp's only four doctors and the camp having a 97% survival rate. Other than Burns occasionally breaking down under pressure and making human mistakes, we don't see him actually kill every single patient he's given, and handles about the same number of wounded as any other doctor. There are, however, numerous episodes where one of the other doctors has to operate on one of his patients again, or step in on his operations, because he was too impatient or simply too arrogant to do it right the first time. He also tends to get easier cases with routine operations. There's certainly enough of these episodes to hold up the idea that he's incompetent, simply not that he's 100% lethal (which is more the others mocking him than making a statement of fact).
In Merlin, Morgana speaks of Guinevere's hands, saying "her fingers are worn, her nails are broken." In a later episode, a villain identifies Gwen (disguised as Morgana) as an imposter because she has "the hands of a servant." Yet whenever we get a close-up of actress Angel Coulby's hands, the audience can see she has smooth skin and beautifully manicured nails.
In Survivor's 23rd season, everyone apparently says Edna was weak. Yet the only challenges that Upolu didn't win was where Edna was sitting out.
Liz Lemon of Thirty Rock is often described as, at best, homely, despite the fact that Tina Fey is arguably twice as hot as Jane Krakowski, who plays Liz's hot actress friend. It's explained in universe/by breaking the 4th wall when Liz steps in front of an High Definition camera, which reveals that her face looks like it belongs to the Wicked Witch of the West.
Juliette Barnes over in/on Nashville is constantly being described as a bad singer while Rayna Jaymes is ostensibly the real thing... but Hayden Panettiere (Juliette) is actually a pretty good singer, whereas Television Without Pity's view of Connie Britton (Rayna) is even shared by some (though not all) of her staunchest fans - "to put it politely, she cannot fucking sing." (TWoP has mellowed out a bit since, in fairness.)
Making this particularly weird is that it could easily have been written to have Rayna only objecting to Juliette's bubblegum style music (which even Juliette herself wants to move beyond), but it's repeatedly made clear that we're also supposed to think her singing skills themselves are terrible ("Thank God for autotune!").
It's also worth noting that Juliette/Hayden has had considerably more material released from the show than Rayna/Connie.
Officer Garcia on Reno 911 is depicted as being racist but we hardly ever see this trait (however, we do see his Jerkass traits a lot). Meanwhile, Officer Junior is possibly the most racist character on the show but almost never gets called out on it. Double Standard much?
Joey and Chandler's apartment on Friends supposedly being "small." While not as big as the others' apartments, it was still fairly big. Also, their apartment being a dive. While it might not have been quite as fancy as Monica and Rachel's, it was still a pretty good looking and decently kept apartment.
Chandler's commitment phobia can fall into this. While he goes through a Minor Flaw, Major Breakup in one episode, and considers it in another, many of his breakups are for reasons completely unrelated. For example, he breaks up with a woman in the sixth episode because he wants more than she does, his next two major relationships (Janice and Kathy) end because they cheated on him, and while he has his scared moments with Monica, there are other times when he is counseling Monica through issues in turn.
Him being 'bad with women' is even worse. Fair enough in early seasons when he struggles both chatting up girls and managing a relationship. (In contrast to Joey's one night stands and Ross's steady girlfriends). But its weird that everyone acts like he's still the one whose bad with women, when he's the only guy who is married, in the most stable, functional relationship on the entire show and blissfully happy with a beautiful woman, while Joey and Ross are single, divorced or pining for someone they can't have.
Phoebe is known to be a horrible singer by her friends and strangers, but her singing voice would be considered average or below average in a real life setting and not as horrible as the bad singers you would see on American Idol. Phoebe in one episode gets sick and her voice gets deeper and more raspy when she sings, which makes everyone think she actually sounds better this way.
In the books which Game of Thrones is based on, Tyrion is described as not only a dwarf, a major source of prejudice alone, but also quite ugly to boot. However, being played by the not-at-all unattractive Peter Dinklage renders this an informed flaw in the TV series. The only concession you can scrounge out of this is that he looks the oldest out of his three siblings despite being the youngest.
The Angels in Supernatural are supposed to be emotionless and unable to have feelings that's why Anna decided to remove her grace and became a human...yet they show lots of emotions through the entire series...
Douglas Bader in Horrible Histories is introduced during the RAF pilots musical number. He informs us that he has prosthetic legs (as did his historical counterpart), but has no problems dancing an energetic, choreographed Boy Band routine with lots of kneedrops and poses.
Devo's Mongoloid is about someone with down syndrome who is 'happier than you and me' but otherwise lives a perfectly normal life, with no one aware he is different. The song initially seems to be praising this guy's ability to fit in with society. However Devo are actually saying that society has devolved to the point where it's impossible to tell a mentally handicapped person from someone who isn't.
Charlie Brown in Peanuts claims that everyone hates him and he has no friends, even though Schroeder and Linus are clearly his friends, and although Lucy insults him, she also hangs around with him an awful lot. Also, all the neighborhood kids let him be manager and captain of the baseball team. Of course, this makes more sense when you know that the creator Charles M. Schulz, even when he had a wife, five children and millions of fans, still complained of being anxious and lonely.
Charlie Brown's defining characteristics are being wishy-washy and most of the symptoms you think of when you hear the term "clinical depression". Too bad There Are No Therapists other than Lucy.
Therese of For Better or for Worse was repeatedly described as shallow, petty, materialistic and whatever else Lynn Johnson could use to paint her as the villain in Anthony's marriage. However, she rarely got any panel time that involved anything other than complaining to Anthony about Liz - whom she turned out to have good reason to dislike. When she was shown interacting with other characters, she came off as little more than a normal, if somewhat removed person and some thought her actions were justified when details of their marriage came to light.
Lieutenant Fuzz of Beetle Bailey is often described as the world's biggest Jerkass by the other officers (and by Sergeant Snorkel) for no other reason than that he's a bit immature and occasionally dull. Sure enough, he bugs General Halftrack (for advice or approval) quite often, but that still doesn't explain why the other officers seem to hate him so much and with such sincerity. Even the military chaplain claims he can't find any redeeming qualities in Fuzz (and he doesn't help matters by adding "I really tried!")
Though he started out as a legitimate terror, due to Menace Decay, anyone who read Dennis the Menace after the late 80s might feel that he isn't menacing at all.
Calvin and Hobbes: In one comic, it's claimed Susie eats sandwiches by taking them apart and eating each ingredient separately. Not only is this never referenced again, several later comics show Susie eating her sandwich normally.
This is usually done on purpose by the rudos (hence why they're called rudos). Claim a fan favorite wrestler is stupid (Rob Van Dam), then you can by extension call his fans stupid because they relate to him. Call one of the humblest guys on the roster (John Cena) arrogant because he brought up a flaw you actually have.
Another way is accuse the fans of something. Chris Jericho once showed video evidence to prove the fans were hateful toward men like him because they hated values, but the video showed the audience clapping for him.
Most DMs of these systems get wise to this after their first experience or two and start limiting character flaws players can take. The Shadowrun 4th edition rulebook went out of its way to encourage DMs to make certain flaws unavailable to characters who are never likely to get into a situation where they matter.
Conversely it is often seen as the responsibility of the DM to ensure that characters run into situations where there flaws will come into play and ensuring the player roleplays the flaw.
World of Darkness played this straight by giving you character creation points for flaws. New World of Darkness corrects it by making flaws work by granting you additional experience after any session where they came up and caused you actual problems — so if you choose a flaw that never causes you any problems, you don't get any benefit from it, either.
Any system that includes a "Nightmares" flaw is generally ripe for this, mainly because most DMs/GMs/Storytellers aren't willing to waste time coming up with elaborate, horrifying nightmares for one character, and many systems only describe the consequences of the character being tired from lack of sleep or nerves without applying actual mechanical penalties in the flaw's description. This often results in a grumpy, obnoxious character with little patience, which is what your average munchkin is looking to play anyway.
Somewhat famously, GURPS had the flaw of Weirdness Magnet. This was popular among min-maxers for the expedient reason that player characters are invariably Weirdness Magnets already.
In-Universe example in Portal 2. Wheatley is a personality core designed to make stupid decisions, and GLaDOS continually remarks how big of a moron he is. In reality he outsmarts her and Chell numerous times, even using traps that rely on their belief that he is stupid to work. It turns out he was designed to be a moron in the same way GlaDOS was designed not to kill all of Aperture's employees with deadly neurotoxin.
Another possible justification: the worst possible decision he could make would be to stay in control and let everything explode
Or, in a case of Fridge Brilliance, the scientists at Aperture Science were so inept that they couldn't even design a moron properly.
Metal Gear Solid - Meryl Silverburgh was mentioned as having had 'special psychotherapy to destroy her interest in men'. It didn't work. It's not even that Snake 'cures' her - she's flirting with him from the very beginning, before she even knows who he is or what he's like, besides 'handsome', and not five minutes after the supposed psychotherapy is mentioned, Psycho Mantis is telling Snake that she's fallen for him. The aim was probably to present her as someone who'd locked away all of her femininity in order to succeed as a soldier, but it has absolutely no effect on her character and absolutely no explanation is even attempted.
For that matter, Psycho Mantis claims that Snake is even worse than the game's Big Bad, Liquid Snake. While Snake is undoubtedly a Jerk Ass, he's not without conscience and actually stopped World War III twice, while Liquid is trying to start it. There is no obvious indication in spoken dialogue or backstory to back up Mantis's claim.
Possibly, he's referring to Solid Snake being an even better mass murderer then Liquid is. Mostly by virtue of actually being able to succeed. Of course, that can be subverted depending on the player, but storyline wise, Snake is one cold blooded killer.
In Spore, the Ecologist attribute card points to a scary dogmatic side (namely, the belief that they must slaughter any sentient species that harms a world's environment), that doesn't seem to show up.
At the very beginning of Chrono Trigger, people talk about how Lucca's made yet another "crazy invention", and sarcastically say they hope it doesn't blow up like all the others. Over the course of the game Lucca then proceeds to invent a teleportation device (the Telepod), a portable flamethrower (her Flame Toss attack), a portable hypnotic device (her Hypno Wave attack), a knockout device (her "Zonker 38", which she can use to rescue Crono), a supply of potent hand grenades (her Napalm and Mega Bomb attacks), a device capable of controlling warps in the space/time continuum (the Gate Key), fixes and improves on a piece of futuristic technology that's been rusted out for over 300 years (Robo), and discovers a way to harness solar energy and use it as a weapon (the Wonder Shot).
The teleportation device manages to make someone vanish instead of successfully teleporting them the second time it's used (though that isn't really his fault - only made Marle vanish because her magical pendant (powered by Lavos, no less) interfered with it.), and many of those (flamethrower, grenades, Wonder Shot) are literally inventions that blow up or blow other things up—they're just supposed to do that.
Lucca's father Taban fits this too. He's amazed that their teleportation device works, but he then proceeds to develop a series of increasingly effective pieces of body armor for Lucca (the Taban Vest, Taban Helm and Taban Suit), and also converts solar energy into a device capable of increasing its user's physical power (the Sun Shades).
One of his devices did cripple his wife. At least until Lucca uses time travel to change that, though he would have built a device that almost crippled his wife. Perhaps this is a case of in-universe Never Live It Down.
In Red Dead Redemption, Seth Of The Dead's official bio on the website claims he's a meth addict. In game, he's completely insane and not healthy-looking, but we never see him anywhere near meth or impaired by need for it (especially in contrast to a character met later on who is a cocaine addict, and talks about almost nothing besides his coke addiction to the point where it reaches Overly-Long Gag).
Red Dead Redemption is set in 1911. At the time, methamphetamine wasn't well-known outside of Japan, and crystal meth, the common drug form, wouldn't be synthesized for another 8 years. Simply getting a hold of any meth then would have been quite the trick. (Then again, there weren't many zombies either.)
Landon Ricketts' bio describes him as 'vain and pretentious'. The worst he gets is slightly arrogant about his genuinely phenomenal gun-slinging ability, when poking fun at Marston for 'barely being able to shoot straight'. His self-deprecating attitude towards himself (and his love life), his genuine devotion to the people of Mexico, his compassion towards Marston and his thoughtful but straight-talking manner actually lead to him coming across as humble, the precise opposite of what his bio says. Especially in contrast with the genuinely vain and pretentious Mexican politicians. (He is vain and pretentious in the Alternate Universe zombie DLC, though.)
Various sources state that Sonic the Hedgehog can be a jerk at times. This contrasts with his actual in-game portrayal. He is always portrayed as a caring, friendly, if somewhat snarky guy.
Even modern bios and manuals refer to Sonic having a short temper, despite an even larger amount of interpretations usually conveying him as rather mellow and easy going (Tranquil Fury is usually as far as he reaches in the actual games themselves).
The nobodies in Kingdom Hearts are frequently described as being "emotionless" yet they frequently seem quite emotional. For example Larxene always seems to be angry, Demyx seems bipolar, Saix is a berserker, Luxord and Axel both seem to enjoy themselves on a frequent basis (cracking jokes, laughing, and even saying they're having a good time) and Vexen screams in terror and begs for his life before being killed. It is claimed that they are just "pretending" to have emotions yet in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days they are STILL acting like this even though there is no one else around to be pretending for.
A lead nobody said they forgot or fooled themselves. Somehow they think they have emotions even thought they should notice they get no pleasure from joking.
The game does have credit or at least TWO scenes where they're called on it, drop all emotions, and the battle starts immediately.
In World of Warcraft, the Goblins have a reputation of things they invent blowing up in their faces, most notably their zeppelins, where everyone remarks about crashes and explosions, yet no matter how many times you ride them, nothing bad happens. In particular, the Azshara-Twilight Highlands zeppelin is described as a virtual deathtrap filled with volatile gas, fuel that "shouldn't even be moved, much less flown", and even the parachutes will most likely kill you. Yet the zeppelin is brought down by dragons near its destination.
We're told that Tex Murphy's Love Interest Chelsee is a mutant, but unlike the other mutants featured in the game who all have noticeable physical deformities, Chelsee looks like a normal human. In fact, she's even rather pretty. Lampshaded, in that it's mentioned in-game that nobody knows what her mutation is, and she's not telling.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, at the start the game Zelda complains about how lazy Link is. For the rest of the game, Link comes off as far from lazy with all running around the surface killing a small army of demons he does.
PAYDAY: The Heist has Dallas, a playable character who is a heavy smoker and has trouble breathing at times. This is never mentioned in the game at all nor does it reflect on Dallas' physical abilities since he can run around without being short of breath.
Left 4 Dead has Bill, a Vietnam veteran whose knees are messed up due to the shrapnel injury he got during the war. Despite the fact that Bill complains about having to go up flights of stairs, he can run up and down stairs without any problems during the game.
Left 4 Dead 2 gives Coach a similar injury where he injured his knee during his days in college football and it sacked his football career. On top of this, Coach is overweight, which would make running and climbing more difficult for him. The injury and weight problem is shown off in the opening intro scene where Coach has to take a breather from climbing up several flights of stairs. Naturally, Coach is not hindered at all during the actual game.
The translocator in Unreal Tournament 2004 was slightly nerfed from the original game - it now has an ammo limit which slowly recharges. The justification for this is that using the thing too much can result in a disease called "Teleportation Related Dementia", even though in the original game there's literally nothing preventing you from just translocating everywhere for an hour or so, other than maybe someone sabotaging the disc or trying to take a flag with them.note Much like replacing the Sniper Rifle with a Lightning Gun that shows exactly where the sniper's shooting from, the real reason is precisely to prevent people from translocating everywhere, making them a really hard target and potentially instakilling anyone they come across.
Dan Hibiki, the iconic Joke Character of Street Fighter, frequently has the joke taken a bit too far. It's been variously claimed that his homegrown martial art is completely useless, that he can't land a single hit on Sakura, and that the Gadoken is about as powerful as a slap. Though Dan's power has fluctuated over his history, he's still an incredibly muscular guy who can jump six feet straight up and shoot fireballs out of his hands. It can get especially disconcerting when playing Super Street Fighter IV, where Dan's Gadoken is actually stronger than the Hadoken when it hits.
He's been shown to be angry before, managing to make Seymour back off and run away.
Keli from World of Fizz is said to have a "high gas factor" although other characters are more frequently shown belching or farting than Kelli, in fact she is rarely shown doing it all.
In Homestuck, multiple characters, including Aranea herself, comment that she always tends to bring conversations back to herself. While she is extremely talkative and literally addicted to explaining things, she mostly talks about other people, except when she's explaining who she is in her introduction. Calliope is portrayed as being sweet and modest, and she talks about herself far more than Aranea does.
Played for Laughs in The Nostalgia Critic's review of Junior. Bhargav the evil judge sentences him to watching the rest of the movie, as to make up for his crimes against humanity. Of course there's no mention of what those crimes are...
Ended up as foreshadowing, as this was in the Critic's dream, and we find out later he has rotten self-esteem. In the movie where he's at his lowest point, To Boldly Flee, he makes a Call Back to that review.
In one episode of South Park, Cartman is sent to jail, leaving the other boys to single Clyde out as "obviously" the fattest kid in the class, even though he is literally the exact same shape as all the other kids other than his hair.
South Park plays with this a lot, such as informing the audience that a character is hideously ugly or very attractive when they look no different than anyone else.
Special mention goes to Ugly Bob, who was exiled from Canada for his ugliness despite looking identical to every other Canadian (and not being considered ugly by non-Canadians). It turns out that his ugliness gives him the gorgon-like ability to turn anything that looks at him into stone.
Cartman's mom is said to be a slut (mostly early in the series), but only a few episodes (eg. "Pinkeye", "Cartman's Mom is a Dirty Slut/Cartman's Mom is Still a Dirty Slut") demonstrate this.
In "The Hobbit" Wendy points out her and the other kid's imperfection like herself having pimples and crooked bottom teeth neither of which are visible, and points out that Stan has short stubby legs even though his look just like everyone else's.
As stated by multiple characters in Codename: Kids Next Door, Numbuh One's butt is supposed to be ridiculously huge, but it looks just about the same as the other character's.
In Invader Zim Dib is regularly mocked for having a giant head, even though his head is the same size as any other characters.
Family Guy: Meg Griffin is constantly being called fat and ugly by the rest of the cast—she's apparently so ugly that people maim themselves to get out of taking her to a school dance, scream and set themselves on fire just from looking at her, and immediately puke when they see her topless. However, she's drawn just like the rest of the cast, no worse, and while she does look a bit chubby, she's certainly not fat. The really hilarious thing is, aside from being slightly pudgier, Meg looks almost exactly like her mother Lois, who the series depicts as a ravishing sex goddess.
Likewise, Peter's boss, Angela, is also portrayed as being ugly and not worth having sex with. Other than Angela's breasts sagging down when they're revealed, she looks pretty plain.
Jay Sherman from The Critic is constantly described by the other characters as being ridiculously overweight and ugly, he's fairly normal looking and he's short and chubby.
This gets Lampshaded in one episode where someone calls him pear shaped. The camera then cuts to Jay, only depicted as a human-sized pear with his face, yelling "I am not pear shaped!"
Ackar from BIONICLE: The Legend Reborn is said to be an old warrior way past his prime, and as such, his people are growing tired of him. Doesn't stop him from performing impossible multi-somersaults and wiping away a gang of marauding Bone Hunters and their dinosaur steeds with ease.
Lana Kane from Archer is constantly made fun of by other characters for having big hands, even though her character is drawn in proportion with normal sized hands. note This is actually somewhat of a development gag - Her voice actress, Aisha Tyler, has rather large hands.
Homer Simpson of The Simpsons fame is frequently portrayed as being seriously, even morbidly obese, even though he has a relatively average body type compared to other characters in the series. Apu, Krusty, and Dr. Hibbert, to name three, are just as fat as Homer though they're never portrayed as such, while Barney, Mayor Quimby and Chief Wiggum are considerably fatter.
One episode reveals that the whole of Springfield is overweight; so not so much "informed", more normal for the town.
Played for Laughs in Futurama. Project Satan involved building a car out of the most evil car parts in the world, including the windshield wipers of KITT (from Knight Rider). When pointed out KITT wasn't evil, Calculon tells them the windshield wipers were, it just didn't come up in the show much.
In Garfield and Friends, Jon is said to have a terrible singing voice. However, anyone with an ear can hear that Thom Huge actually has a nice singing voice, otherwise he would not have been asked to perform the musical numbers. In fact, none of the cast (except for possibly Orson) is said to have a pleasant singing voice, despite the fact that the songs are at the very least of musical theatre quality.
One episode of Adventure Time has Jake ignoring Finn for nearly the entire episode because he seems to believe out of absolutely nowhere that Finn constantly makes up adventures.
Zig-zagged in Spongebob Squarepants, Squidward is supposed to be an awful Clarinet player. While he is sometimes quite awful with the clarinet, making it squeak all the time, but there are other times where he plays the Clarinet and it's actually not bad.