Temporarily Exaggerated Trait

"Question: Are you two acting even more infantile than usual this morning?"
Squidward, S9EP03 "Squid Baby"

This is a trope to describe when a single trait in a character is exaggerated to make a specific episode plot work. This can happen to several different aspects of the same character, though in different episodes (for example, Alice is a flighty valley girl; however, one episode will have her being such a Dumb Blonde that she must retake a class, while another ups her love of fashion and turns her into an extreme know-it-all regarding the subject).

Tropes Are Not Bad - this can be used to give us more character development rather than less, as it can flesh out an aspect that we didn't know anything about. If used poorly, it can feel contrived, or force a character into a role that we've never seen them in before.

Compare with Flanderization, where a single character trait is exaggerated over a long period of time. Also see Compressed Vice and Depending on the Writer.


Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Sailor Moon:
    • In an episode of the first anime where the Dark Kingdom wanted to discover the true identity of Princess Serenity, they opened some Princess Classes and in them, Usagi was shown to be extremely impolite and clumsy, even more than the usual.
    • In Makoto's introductory episode in the first anime, she fell in love at first sight and also punched a villain in the face UNTRANSFORMED.
    • In a special edition of the manga dealing with Minako's and Rei's friendship, Minako appeared to be even more extroverted and unmannered than in a typical episode, while Rei was trying too hard to act graceful and proper.
  • The seventh episode of Yuri!!! on Ice is the one where Yuri's anxiety and pre-performance fears really come into play.

    Literature 

    Live Action TV 
  • In The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon's ornithophobia (fear of birds) is mentioned a few times but never elaborated until the episode "The Ornithophobia Diffusion", where it becomes central to the plot as a bird flies in his apartment through a window.
  • Murdoch Mysteries: One of Inspector Brackenreid's Hidden Depths is painting. It gets a passing reference in the third season when he testily tells Murdoch he knows what a pigment is, but it becomes a subplot when Murdoch and Dr. Ogden see one of his finished pictures, which Julia later enters in a contest at an art gallery. Brackenreid considers taking it back, but is persuaded to leave it in the contest, only to have the painting stolen for its frame. After it is recovered, a young artist who expressed interest in it visits his office and buys it from the inspector.
  • Chandler from Friends was always a doofus, but even still he could be quite charming and rarely lost his nerve around women. In one of the final seasons, Chandler ends up trying to talk to a woman Ross is trying to date and can't figure out how to form a single word around her because of how nervous he is.

    Western Animation 
  • Gravity Falls:
    • In "The Last Mabelcorn," Mabel suddenly stresses how she has a "pure heart" and constant tries to be the best person she can be.
    • In "The Love God," Mabel's matchmaking tendencies are turned way up.
    • Grunkle Stan's shady tendencies are highlighted in "The Stanchurian Candidate" - he can't give a speech without revealing his amoral nature, and at the end, a reporter gleefully lists all his crimes.
  • Futurama:
    • "Benderama" exaggerates Bender's laziness.
    • "The Duh-Vinci Code" exaggerates Fry's stupidity.
  • Invoked by Wirt in Over the Garden Wall, episode 3. After Beatrice mocks Wirt for being an Extreme Doormat, he takes this Up to Eleven and follows Miss Langtree's instructions to not leave the schoolhouse. He even goes to the dunce corner when she tells him to. This makes the finale more poignant, as Wirt finally stands up to someone - the Beast himself.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In "Look Before You Sleep," Applejack and Rarity's messy and neat-freak tendencies become the focus when they're forced to spend the night together.
    • Several of the main ponies would have their elements only put on true display in their own limelight episodes. For example Applejack's Element of Honesty is harder to convey outside instances the plot requires a situation to lie, same for Rainbow Dash's Element of Loyalty (given most of the other main characters are equally heroic and loyal).
  • In the first episode of Danny Phantom, Sam is a vegetarian and Tucker is obsessed with meat. While these facts are referenced in later episodes, they're quite exaggerated here; Sam and Tucker even stage anti-meat and anti-veggie protests!
  • In The Dreamstone, Rufus' tendency for daydreaming and lacking focus is pointed out several times, but because he is often a Hero Antagonist, it only becomes exceptionally apparent in a handful of limelight episodes such as the pilot and "Urpgor's Island".
  • The revived series of Danger Mouse:
    • It's a running gag that DM always ends up breaking Professor Squawkencluck's gadgets (as a parody of James Bond's similar treatment of Q's gadgets), but in the episode "Big Head Awakens", it's the entire basis of the plot.
    • In the episode "The Inventor Preventer", DM's occasional tendency to be a Last Second Showoff becomes something he does at every opportunity, leading to a climax where he saves the day by not leaving it to the last second.
  • Wander over Yonder:
    • "The Helper" exaggerates Wander's tendency to obsessively care for others to the point where he was driven crazy when he was unable to find someone to help.
    • "The Timebomb" is the only episode to really show off Sylvia's problem with competition.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil:
    • In the pilot episode, Marco is introduced as the "safe kid," and he spends several scenes in the episode protecting Star from perceived threats like open locker doors. This is toned down in all the other episodes.
    • In "Sleep Spells," Marco is both more focused on being a psychiatrist and more disturbed by the amount of times Star's saved his life compared to the other way around. These traits don't come up to such a degree outside of this episode.
  • Mandy's Perpetual Frowner trait gets emphasised in one episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy. The episode insists that Mandy has never once smiled since being conceived. When she does smile, it brings upon the end of the world. Mandy has smiled and smirked several times throughout the series, especially in earlier seasons prior to her flanderization into an Enfant Terrible.
  • Luan is The Prankster of her family but the April Fools' Plot episode of The Loud House really has her going above-and-beyond, to the point where her pranks are actually harmful.
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