Unclear Description: Schrodingers Cast

Deadlock Clock: 21st Sep 2012 11:59:00 PM
Total posts: [29]
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This is either Unclear Description or Misused or both.

I'm not actually really clear on what this trope is supposed to be.

The description seems to be saying it has to do with when the original work is ongoing and a remake happens during that time, and then later the remake has to retcon or somehow solve the fact that they changed somebody's fate and it's now a problem. I guess? I'm not sure how this works. If you're doing a movie series, don't we all just assume the movies are a related but separate continuity? Maybe this is most prevalent in manga-to-anime adaptations, but I'm not sure how it's different from a basic Gecko Ending or Filler Arc in that case.

A lot of the examples seem to be "this character was killed in the original work but the movie has them survive", but that doesn't seem very "Schrodinger" to me; it's only when further development of the original work causes a clash that things get Schrodinger...ish. Right?

And there really need to not be any examples from games that are basically built around Negative Continuity, like fighting games, or simply don't have any continuity (like kart games and, well... Super Robot Wars, which has a plot within itself but shouldn't be compared to the original works, or really even between different SRW games).

I don't know. Maybe there's a way to clean this up and make the description a little clearer so I know what's being troped?

edited 10th Jul '12 8:12:07 AM by Escher

I think this is combining several tropes, none of which fit the Schroedinger analogy well and several of which already exist. It seems to cover situations where an adaptation is aiming for a 3 or 4 on the Sliding Scale of Adaptation Modification. A 5 would give the exact same treatment as the original and a 1 or 2 wouldn't worry about major departures. A character's fate is left ambiguous in the original, but the adaptation has to resolve it for some reason and if they guess wrong, it will screw up their ability to adapt sequels.

It also seems to cover the Canon Foreigner issue, since they can be killed off without affecting later installments. In some cases, they almost would have to be. This seems inherent in the idea of a Canon Foreigner and should be mentioned on that page. It's maybe its own trope if you can get enough specific examples. Smallville has plenty involving Chloe. She was the only person the audience would easily believe coudl die, so she got a lot of jeopardy based around this idea until season 8 or so when it became clear that the show was not a prequel.

edited 10th Jul '12 6:22:36 PM by AceOfSevens

3 KuroBaraHime10th Jul 2012 07:01:22 PM from Somewhere...I think
From the trope page, I think this trope is when the original source material have the fate of a characters ambiguous, but the adaptation has them clearly die or survive. And this can cause later problems if the their exact fate is revealed later in the source material and is different from the adaption.

If I'm correct, then there's a lot of misuse and even the laconic isn't exactly right. If I'm wrong, something needs to change to make this more clear. Even if I'm right, it needs to be made more clear.

edited 10th Jul '12 7:02:24 PM by KuroBaraHime

[up]That's exactly my thoughts, with one additional point:

If the trope is only in action when the character's fate was ambiguous in the original work — not "died in the book but left alive in the movie" or some such thing — does that happen often enough to be a trope?
Okay, so going by the description of this trope on Spared by the Adaptation and Death by Adaptation, this trope is indeed only for when the original material is ongoing (or gets sequeled) and the character who was killed or spared is important to the continuing plot.

I'm going to go ahead and clarify the main page at Schrödinger's Cast, but I still question whether this happens often enough to be tropable or if it should be just a side note as to the dangers of the aformentioned two tropes.

edited 13th Jul '12 8:35:37 AM by Escher

6 SeptimusHeap13th Jul 2012 08:35:12 AM from Laniakea , Relationship Status: Mu
Trope is "adaptations diverge from the on-going source material and have to retcon the divergence when it breaks the source plot", at least following the description. The name is wrong and the laconic (unsurprisingly) too.
Ok, I think maybe I fixed the description and laconic sufficiently. The title actually works as long as it's explained right, I think, but if we decide we need a rename that's fine.

I'm going to go through and clean up the examples now. There's a lot of misuse where it's a simple Death by Adaptation or Spared by the Adaptation and there's no uncertainty induced by later plot developments.

edited 13th Jul '12 9:17:45 AM by Escher

8 SeptimusHeap13th Jul 2012 09:16:34 AM from Laniakea , Relationship Status: Mu
Is there a trope (or tropes) for the misuse? We could split the examples off to these.
Yes, like I said, the misuse is almost universally a Spared by the Adaptation or the reverse, which is not Schrödinger's Cast unless that death or survival becomes really important later on.

edited 13th Jul '12 9:18:54 AM by Escher

10 SeptimusHeap13th Jul 2012 09:20:48 AM from Laniakea , Relationship Status: Mu
We definitively need a better name. I know about quantum mechanics, and I have no clue how it relates to this trope.
Because the character's alive-versus-dead status is indeterminate until the adaptation figures out how they're going to deal with the situation.
12 nrjxll13th Jul 2012 01:57:58 PM , Relationship Status: Not war
[up]Then why is it Schrödinger's Cast, plural? It's clearly not about entire casts.
[up]The name is Just for Pun, it's a play on "Schrodinger's Cat".

Just to be clear, I have no problem with a rename. It's not my trope or anything. I don't think it's as obtuse as all that, though, once the description has been clarified.

edited 16th Jul '12 8:41:40 AM by Escher

Okay, think I finished cleaning up the examples. I might've missed one or two.
15 nrjxll16th Jul 2012 02:32:41 PM , Relationship Status: Not war
[up][up]Definitely needs a rename, then. The "it works as long as you read the description" attitude towards names has been dead - at least in official circles - for a long time, and the pun just makes things more confusing.
16 Xtifr16th Jul 2012 03:25:14 PM , Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
World's Toughest Milkman
Need to show misuse or underuse before renaming a trope is still a generally accepted rule, though.
Speaking words of fandom: let it squee, let it squee.
I just looked through it and very few of the examples contain the ambiguity needed for the trope name to work. Most are a matter of a character being definitely killed off in one work, but a derivative or related work not killing them, which requires story adjustments or causes continuity problems if they weren't done. How do Jurassic Park, Roger Rabbit and Ms. Marvel, for instance, fit the trope as described?
Not sure where you're coming from here. The trope name doesn't refer to the character being ambiguously dead in one work, but rather that they're clearly alive in one work and clearly dead in the other, and the two have to find a way to resynchronize, give up and go Gecko, or just ignore the issue entirely.*

An ambiguous death scene is one of three ways this can come about, when the adaptation makes it less ambiguous and then winds up having picked the wrong option. The other two are killing off a character for drama, and saving a character out of sympathy.

Roger Rabbit and Jurassic Park's Ian Malcolm are examples where the sequel just ignored the conflict, picked one of the two source works to build from, and kept going. They're a little weird because they're works in original medium that chose the adaptation as the canonical story; normally you would expect books to follow the book continuity and movies to follow the movie continuity.

Actually I think Ian Malcolm is just about the poster boy for this trope. If you read the first Jurassic Park book and then the second, he just comes back to life with no explanation whatsoever. So does Hammond, for that matter.

Ms. Marvel was a variation on the handwave; knowing it's a comic book and they won't leave the title character dead, they just ignored the problem until it went away.

Or are you complaining that it wasn't the adaptation that had to conform, but the original work that got thrown out? I don't think it's relevant which work went through some weirdness in order to resychronize. I'll add that as a note in the description.

Possibly I've misunderstood your complaint — if so, can you give me a more clear explanation of the perceived conflict that you feel makes most of the listed examples not be examples of this trope?

edited 17th Jul '12 11:30:21 AM by Escher

Basically, I don't think the analogy with Schroedinger's Cat works.
Or, to put it another way:
The trope name doesn't refer to the character being ambiguously dead in one work, but rather that they're clearly alive in one work and clearly dead in the other
The problem being that Schrödinger's Cat, or at least the wiki snowclone thereof, refers to the former.

edited 18th Jul '12 2:40:46 AM by MorganWick

"Cast is simultaneously alive and dead" sounds like a great trope to name after Schrödinger's Cat. Unfortunately, we already have a snowclone family named after that, and it means something different.
Dragon Writer
This trope previously was named Schrödinger's Cat, but there was a decision to rename.
23 Xtifr18th Jul 2012 12:43:48 PM , Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
World's Toughest Milkman
Clearly alive in one work and clearly dead in another matches the Many Worlds interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. ;)
Speaking words of fandom: let it squee, let it squee.
This trope previously was named Schrödinger's Cat, but there was a decision to rename.
Then things have weirdly come full circle.
The only issue I had initially was that the trope description was terribly unclear, and I think I got that ironed out with just a rewrite. I just started the thread to make sure I was clarifying it to the right thing.

There were a lot of bad examples, but it was almost all just people giving examples of "this character's fate changed between two versions of the work" but lacking the plot-twisting conflict required to be this trope. I don't think I saw any misuse that was misinterpreting the name to mean the character's fate is just ambiguous.

Unless the name's supposed snowclone confusion is causing rampant misuse, I just don't see any benefit to changing it from a clever pun.

Edit: Okay, so I did a usage check.

TL;DR version: While there's a good bit of misuse (possibly 35%), most of it wouldn't be solved by a rename. Only 3 of the uses were confusing this trope for "character is ambiguously dead" or some such thing; most of the others were actually Spared by the Adaptation or Death by Adaptation, where the character's change of fate didn't actually impact the plot any. The remainder were either explicitly not part of the original work's universe (and thus carry no expectation of continuity) or so incoherent that I couldn't make a determination.

Correct Use

Possible Misuse - Actually Spared by the Adaptation or Death by Adaptation

Possible Misuse - Other

Misuse - Actually Spared by the Adaptation or Death by Adaptation

Misuse - Misunderstanding The Title

Misuse - Other

  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha - Triangle Hearts is a different universe entirely that has nothing to do with magical girls; there is no expectation of consistency.
  • Windom XP - Not an adaptation and there's no expectation of continuity. The trope just doesn't apply at all.

edited 23rd Jul '12 11:18:29 AM by Escher

Total posts: 29
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