Playing With / I Coulda Been a Contender!

Basic Trope: A character who once had big dreams bitterly wonders what life would have been like.
  • Straight: Bob used to play football in high school, when an injury derailed his sporting career. He's now an insurance salesman, but he's fairly bitter over the fact that he never got to play professionally.
  • Exaggerated: Bob was on the football team for all of one game, and that was as a benchwarmer. He's still bitter.
  • Downplayed:
    • Bob sometimes wonders how things would have turned out if he had been able to keep playing, but it's not a constant source of Wangst.
    • Bob actually is a professional football player, but an unremarkable one, and he wonders if he could have become a bona fide star player if he'd done things a little differently.
  • Justified: Bob was a skilled football player and could have, at the very least, made a professional roster for a couple of years. He knows this.
  • Inverted: Bob is a sports star...who just wants a nice, quiet life with an office job.
  • Subverted:
    • Alice reminds Bob that he sucked at football before his injury.
    • Rather than brood on what-ifs, Bob has come to terms with his injury and where his life is now.
  • Double Subverted: She made that up to be funny.
  • Parodied: Bob is the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, making more per year than all but the highest-paid athletes. He's still incredibly bitter about the fact that he never got to play professionally.
  • Zig Zagged: Alice reminds Bob that he sucked at football, but she made that up to be funny. But we see flashbacks and Bob was good, but he was by no means a superstar.
  • Averted: Bob holds no bitterness over his possible life as a superstar.
  • Enforced: "We need some drama. Let's make the insurance salesman a former high-school football star!"
  • Lampshaded: "I could've been a contender!"
  • Invoked: While watching a pro football game, Bob recognizes a couple of the players as former high-school teammates of his. This gets him thinking...
  • Exploited: ???
  • Defied: While Bob is unhappy for the first couple of years because of his injury, he decides he won't let it get him down and instead looks for other alternatives.
  • Discussed: ???
  • Conversed: ???
  • Deconstructed: Bob's inability to get over his bitterness eventually takes its toll on his life, as no one wants to be around him anymore.
  • Reconstructed:
    • Bob eventually gets over the bitterness, accepting his life as an insurance salesman, while learning to appreciate the good things that he has earned because of that unexpected life-turn.
    • Bob is offered to play a football game professionally for old times' sake. He accepts.
  • Played For Laughs: Bob was the worst player on the worst team in the state; however, he's still convinced that if he had gotten his chance, he would have been a superstar athlete.
  • Played For Drama: Convinced that he could have been a real star, Bob would do anything to get another chance.

Don't you get it? I coulda had class! I Coulda Been a Contender!! I could have been somebody! Instead, I've got to edit this trope page for a living.