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Playing With: Trial Balloon Question
Basic Trope: Character asks 'hypothetical' question about an actual problem they have and learns the person they asked would not react well.
  • Straight: Having just discovered she has a talent for fire magic, Marcy asks her father if he'd still love her if she became a mage. He answers with a flat "No."
  • Exaggerated: Marcy has just discovered that she's an Apocalypse Maiden, and asks her best friend Albert what they'd do if they discovered such a person. Albert immediately replies that they'd have to kill them to save the world, of course.
  • Downplayed: After "borrowing without asking" her mom's old prom dress and accidentally ripping it, Marcy asks her mom what she'd do if something happened to the dress. Her mom says, "I'd probably cry."
  • Justified: Marcy already knows that her father disapproves of magic use, but not to what extent. So she decides to use a Trial Balloon Question to feel out the depths of his potential disapproval.
  • Inverted: Albert learns that his best friend Marcy is actually the Apocalypse Maiden. Rather than tell her outright, he tells her that if such a situation ever did occur, he'd do everything in his power to Screw Destiny and save her. Marcy, unaware of the truth, promptly replies that she'd put the future of the world over one life in a heartbeat.
  • Subverted: Marcy asks her father if he'd still love her if she became a spellcaster, and he responds "Nothing would make me prouder."
  • Double Subverted: ...However, he said that very sarcastically, and follows it up with a rant about the evils of magic.
  • Parodied: After her hair gets dyed purple by a prank, Marcy calls her boyfriend Brady and asks how he'd react if she changed her hair color. His response? "Oh, I'd have to kill you."
  • Zig Zagged: Marcy asks a hypothetical question to Albert, only she was serious! Oh, not really, she was just joking! But then, Albert was being sarcastic and Marcy didn't know! And so on.
  • Averted: Marcy is too afraid to even ask the question, or she comes out and says she's the Apocalypse Maiden.
  • Enforced: "We need to justify Marcy keeping this secret from everyone, so we'll have her try feeling someone out and learn how badly they'd react!"
  • Lampshaded: "Marcy, you sound like one of those people who ask "I Have This Friend" questions."
  • Invoked: Marcy is goaded by Scar to ask Albert herself if he'd really spare her out of love — but also cautioned that she might want to phrase her question carefully so Albert doesn't flat-out assault her.
  • Exploited: ???
  • Defied: Marcy refuses to follow Scar's advice, and tells Albert flat-out what the problem is.
  • Discussed: Marcy talks with her BFF Alice (who does know her secret) about how difficult it is to even talk about the issue hypothetically with others.
  • Conversed: "Wow Marcy, good choice of movie! I loved the part where the Mom asked her son 'Have You Tried Not Being a Monster??' I'd have just shot him!" "Yeah Brady, that was... funny."
  • Deconstructed: The reason Marcy has to ask the Trial Balloon Question at all is because everyone she loves is a bigot of one sort or another. Even Albert would be willing to kill an innocent to assure the world's survival. Faced with the awful truth she now plans on killing him and anyone else who might try to stop her, since a world where the people you love are willing to kill you isn't one she wants to live in.
  • Reconstructed: Marcy comes to realize that a hypothetical question can never be a good indicator of the real response, and living with the doubt and lies would be torture. So trusting that her father loves her more than he hates mages, she flat out says that she is "that friend."
  • Plotted A Good Waste: Alice decides to embrace her true nature, and asks the question again rhetorically as an Ironic Echo.
  • Played For Laughs: Alice asks Albert a what he'd do if she were the Apocalypse Maiden... while wearing Evil Is Sexy clothes, emanating a dark aura that kills plants, curdles milk, and with a CD full of Ominous Latin Chanting playing in the background.
  • Played For Drama: Marcy and Albert are in love, but her just-discovered status as an Apocalypse Maiden versus his status as The Chosen One makes things harder. Marcy tries testing the waters with her hypothetical question, only to be disappointed by Albert's pragmatic reply.

"So, if I wanted to link you back to Trial Balloon Question..."

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