Playing With: Wanting Is Better Than Having
Basic Trope: A character doggedly pursues a goal, only to realize after achieving it that the pursuit was better than the result.
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- After ten years of effort, Bob finally wins the glittery "Troper of the Year" award, only to be disappointed when he discovers the trophy is a cheap plastic toy.
- Bob makes a major accomplishment, but while he receives the empty praise of his peers, it's not anywhere near as fulfilling as he thought it would be.
- After discovering the trophy is a cheap plastic toy, Bob goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
- Or, after Bob travels 500 miles for the award ceremony, he doesn't attend. The journey was its own reward.
- Downplayed: Bob gets a reward which is still quite appropriate to the level of effort put in, but in his nostalgia later on he remembers the fun he had doing it moreso than the reward he ultimately got.
- Justified: The things Bob experienced on the way to the prize are far more valuable than the prize - those ten years of effort made Bob a far better person, and he experienced things he never would have otherwise. What trophy can measure up to that?
- Inverted: The reward is far greater than the effort spent in achieving it. Bob gets a gold-plated Troper Of The Year trophy for making a single edit.
- The journey was utterly miserable and Bob is glad to have it behind him. Likewise, the reward lets him live Happily Ever After, content that his struggle is over.
- After discovering the trophy is a cheap plastic toy, Bob doesn't care, and becomes ecstatic. He has a trophy!
- After obtaining the Troper of the Year trophy, Bob wonders if what he really wanted was the effort spent and experienced gained while he was working toward acquiring this trophy. He confirms that yes, it was the trophy he wanted, and celebrates regardless of the quality of said trophy.
- Double Subverted: Over time, Bob grows to realize the misery he suffered made him grow as a person.
- Parodied: Bob risks his life several times, spends years mastering new skills, goes on a trek through the wilderness, and puts in superhuman levels of effort into his job, and is given a box of cereal.
- Zig Zagged: The rewards seem pathetic until Bob reads the list of his rewards and realizes that he's being paid a large amount every month, which he uses to retire, but then it turns out the money doesn't stretch as far as he thought and, despite his titanic amount of effort, he continues, little better off than he was before, but having grown as a person. Then it turns out that he hasn't changed at all and that the reward was far disproportionate to his actual level of effort, and he just squandered it.
- Averted: Bob is happy with the reward he is given and thinks it perfectly valid for the effort he put in.
- Enforced: Bob is the Butt Monkey in the show, and deflating his unrealistic expectations is a normal occurrence.
- Lampshaded: Alice comments to Bob that none of the awards she's won ever lived up to her expectations.
- Invoked: Alice, a previous award winner, deliberately over-exaggerates the prize to give Bob unrealistic expectations, hoping to get him to apply himself and become better for it.
- Exploited: ???
- Defied: Alice warns Bob ahead of time that the "Troper of the Year" award is no big deal and he should be chasing it for the fun of it.
- Discussed: "Bob, you know the whole point of this is the journey and not the reward, right? That trophy's not nearly as shiny as they make it look."
- Conversed: "It's always fun watching Bob's expectations get deflated on this show."
- Deconstructed: The lack of a significant reward makes Bob consider the journey wasted - if nobody appreciates his effort, then he never wants to try as hard as that again. After all, it doesn't get him anything. Bob becomes a bitter underachiever.
- Reconstructed: Alice snaps Bob out of the funk by informing him that even if the reward is less than what he expected, he's also won the respect and admiration of many others (including herself) by winning it.
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