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Sliding Scale of Character Appreciation
While having good characters doesn't make a good story, there are some characters who can make or break a series simply by walking onstage. On the one hand, you can have a minor character from an obscure and poorly liked series who nonetheless inspires thousands of fanfics. On the other hand, some characters are so hated by fans that some feel the only way the show will ever be watchable again is to write the character out of existence. If the negative audience reaction is coming from outside the target demographic it is a Periphery Hatedom. Characters We Like To Watch:

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     Characters Who Impress Us Once 

  • One-Scene Wonder: A character that has limited screen time, and usually not much in the way of plot relevance, but is still one of the most memorable things in the movie. They may even be given top billing, or at least an "And Starring" credit, along with the more obvious stars. This is not the same principle as Ensemble Dark Horse, because the character is often played by an established actor, nor is it the same as Dead Star Walking, because the intent is not to fool you into thinking that the actor will appear more often. The character just appears, gives a show-stealing performance, and then is gone. Like a Spear Carrier, only way more righteous. Like a Cameo, except you don't have to recognize the actor to appreciate the scene for all its worth. You know you're dealing with this sort of character if you start referring to "their scene."

     Characters We Love To See, Even If Just Standing In The Background 

     Villains We Sympathize With 

     Characters We Love To See Suffer 
  • The Butt Monkey: The character who is always the butt of the demeaning joke or the "put him through hell" plotline. For whatever reason, the Butt Monkey seems to walk through life with a permanent "Kick Me" sign attached to their backs, invisible to them, but all too visible to the rest of the world. Nothing ever goes right for this character, and if something bad is going to happen to someone, chances are it's going to happen to them. Long story short, it sucks to be the Butt Monkey. Simply having a character go through hell once or twice (no matter how severely) is not enough to be the Butt Monkey. With primary and secondary characters, it must be a regular occurrence. With tertiary characters, it must be their sole purpose to exist. It's not Karma. They don't deserve any of what they go through, but they're an easy target. Sometimes it's all the writers can think of to do with the character.

  • The Chew Toy: An odd sort of polar opposite to The Woobie, The Chew Toy is a character the audience loves specifically because his or her misery amuses them so. The Chew Toy is roughed up or messed with on a constant basis... and is always, always used for comic effect and treated with a light touch, generally glossing over the meaner undertones of the idea. Unlike Woobification, Chew Toys are generally designated as such in the series proper, and often have a tendency to bemoan their fate. If they're lucky, the writers will Throw the Dog a Bone a time or two. If they're unlucky, they'll Yank the Dog's Chain. It can sometimes be a delicate balance. Throw too often and the character can be Flanderized into The Eeyore; Yank too much and the audience may no longer find it funny.

  • The Cosmic Plaything: Most of us like to think that our decisions have some influence on our lives. That we have control, at least to a point. But sometimes, there's the sneaking suspicion that maybe an influence doesn't like us very much, or maybe likes us in a very abusive way. On some series, a particular character doesn't just suspect. They know. For some strange reason, they find their lives governed by events and rules that defy either coincidence or logical explanation. They might figure out some of the "rules," like the what and the where, but the how and the why is a complete mystery. The nature of such a situation allows a certain flexibility to writers, as they don't have to think too hard about why this is happening, or even if the character's belief in their situation is correct, allowing them to focus on the immediate story.

  • The Designated Monkey: The Designated Monkey is an unintentional Butt Monkey. They constantly find themselves in horrible situations; the author appears to intend this to be karmic punishment, but the audience (or a significant subgroup of it) thinks that it's out of proportion and will treat them as The Woobie. This can create Moral Dissonance or Values Dissonance in the work, or it could mean that the fandom is misaimed. The audience may even begin to wonder whether the author is deliberately misrepresenting this character to prevent us from sympathizing with them. Or write Revenge Fics on their behalf.

  • The Woobie: A "woobie" is a name for any type of character that we like to see suffer if only because we can then feel extremely sorry for them. Woobification of a character is a curious, audience-driven phenomenon, sometimes divorced from the character's canonical morality. A story with The Woobie allows the audience to vicariously experience relief from some pain by fantasizing about relieving The Woobie's pain. (No, not that way! Well, okay, sometimes.) Woobification can also tie into a disturbing hurt/comfort dynamic, in which fans enjoy seeing the Woobie tortured so they can wish the hurt away. This is often explored in Hurt/Comfort Fic. An important aspect of The Woobie is that their suffering must be caused by external sources. A character who suffers as the result of their own actions is a Tragic Hero and does not qualify.

     Characters Who Allow Us To Live Vicariously 

     Villains We Love To Hate 

  • The Big Bad: The cause of all bad happenings in a story. A Big Bad could be a character with Evil Plans or it could be a situation, such as a comet heading towards the Earth. The Big Bad can (and often does) exert effect across a number of episodes, and even an entire season. Note that Big Bad is not a catch-all trope for the biggest and ugliest villain of any given story. The leader of the outlaw gang that the heroes face once or twice isn't the Big Bad. The railroad tycoon who turns out to be using the gang as muscle is the Big Bad. If there is a constant Man Behind the Man story going on in order to reveal the big bad, then whoever is behind it all is the Big Bad, not every major villain in the lead-up. At other times, if a new enemy shows up to replace the previous Big Bad, then they are the Big Bads of their individual storylines.

  • The Magnificent Bastard

     Heroes We Love To Root For 

     We Love To Watch Them Get Needlessly Killed 

     We Love To See Them Semi-Naked 

     Characters We Hate To Watch 

Sliding Scale of Broad Appeal vs. Specific AppealSorting Algorithm of TropesSliding Scale of Comedy and Horror

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