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Misused Crowner added 01/13/13: Only Sane Man get usage counts

The problem is that there seem to be two definitions competing on the same page.

This trope seems to start out, quite explicitly, as meaning: "There is something crazy going on, and only one character notices it, while others act as if there's nothing strange going on." (Let's call this definition 1.) But the Laconic version says "The one rational character in a group of weirdos" (definition 2), which is much broader and about general group dynamics rather than a particular scenario. Towards the end of the description in the main article, it's hard to tell which definition is being talked about, but it sounds more like 2. Quote is definition 2. Page image fits both. It's also kind of hard to tell with all the examples, but they seem to be a mix of both definitions. Use elsewhere (say, the page The Hero) that I've noticed before seems to always assume definition 2, but given how the beginning of the page looks like, that doesn't appear to be the original one.

I suppose one or the other definition should be moved into a separate trope, but which one? As I said, the second one seems not to be the original one, but it seems to be the way it's usually used, and the name sounds like it too. For the moment, I'll suggest making Only Sane Man definition 2 and giving another name to definition 1. That seems like the change fewer people would even notice.

Update: Proposed solution: Change the definition to: "A character who contrasts with a group (s)he is in being relatively normal when the others are all or nearly all of them weird in some way." This is more like definition 2, but definition 1 can be counted as one kind of instance of it.

edited 2nd Dec '12 10:11:50 AM by VVK

 
 2 Another Duck, Wed, 1st Aug '12 11:35:31 PM from Stockholm Relationship Status: In season
No, the other one.
How are those distinct enough for their own tropes? It is a character trope, not a situation trope. If it is about a situation, it's still a situation in which a character acts a certain way, so still a character trope.
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That's not the point. You can forget I said anything about that if it's obscuring the real difference for you. Some descriptions may make the two definitions sound similar, but they're very different in practice.

Alice wakes up one morning to notice there's an elephant in the living room. When she remarks about it to someone else, they just go "What elephant?" No matter how much she tries, she can't make anyone else admit that there's an elephant there, even while they have to squeeze around it.

Alice is a perfectly sensible person who's part of a group where Bob is a Cloud Cuckoolander, Carol is a Mad Scientist who's contantly blowing stuff up, and David is morbidly afraid of water.

The first is an example of definition 1 ("the only one who notices something crazy is going on"). The second is an example of definition 2 ("the only sensible one in a group of weidoes"). Also, the first isn't an example of definition 2 if everyone else usually acts normal (well, unless you interpret def.2 very broadly, in which case def.1 is a subtrope), and the second by itself doesn't imply definition 1 at all.

edited 2nd Aug '12 4:16:23 AM by VVK

 
Ecce Homo Superior
I don't think I've ever seen anyone use definition 1 on this wiki. It's usually treated as Straight Man.
(it's David Bowie)
 5 Septimus Heap, Thu, 2nd Aug '12 4:40:07 AM from Zurich, Switzerland Relationship Status: Mu
Puʻu ʻŌʻō
I am sure I've seen definition 1 as another trope on the wiki. It really doesn't fit the name, though.

[up][up]If there really were no examples of it, that would mean the beginning of the page would need to be changed and that would be it. But there must be at least some examples for someone to have set up the trope with that definition in the first place, which it presumably was.

Straight Man, though? "Somebody has to set up the joke so the funny guy can deliver the punch line." I'm not sure what that has to do with definition 1, so it's weird if it's being used like that. However, though I haven't really looked into it, I have suspected Straight Man also of being used to mean definition 2. It shares the same traits of meaning something kind of specific but sounding like it just means the token sensible character.

edited 2nd Aug '12 4:45:41 AM by VVK

 
[up][up] It does fit the name as long as you don't think about what else it could mean. Sure you can be described as the only sane one around if you're the only one noticing the crazy thing, it's just that people are liable to assume such a name means definition 2.
 
 8 Another Duck, Thu, 2nd Aug '12 5:37:53 AM from Stockholm Relationship Status: In season
No, the other one.
If there's a group of people where only one person notices strange things, it can be one of a few tropes. Most likely, I believe, the other people don't notice it because they're weird one way or another, maybe simply because they don't notice the crazy thing. Only Sane Employee is a subtrope. In that case, it still fits this trope. Otherwise Straight Man is one potential, or someone who's just Genre Savvy (or wrongly so) or a Fourth Wall Observer.

More generally, being the one person who notices something strange usually has to do with other tropes that explain the situation, which may or may not overlap with Only Sane Man.
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Straight Man is "The guy who sets up the punchline for the Comic Relief." I have no idea how that could be used for "only person who isn't affected by Weirdness Censor." Sure, they can of course apply to the same person (such as when the joke is the comic relief not noticing anything), but the tropes are not related.

I've always thought of Only Sane Man as definition 1, but the name does indeed better fit definition 2 and a large portion of the examples look like definition 2. I'd support splitting it.

[up][up] I'm not really concerned with what other tropes could concern definition 1, I am concerned with the fact that this trope is apparently originally supposed to be it.

The description begins: "A standard comedy piece: something absolutely insane is going on, but only one person notices (or cares)." That's it said right there already. Then it goes on to describe the character's reactions, which clearly concern this definition. Only starting at about stage three of the reactions can the text even be interpreted to make any sense in the context of definition 2.

Maybe it may be one of a few other tropes as well when it happens, but the fact is that this is initally given as being the trope that means specifically just that.

edited 2nd Aug '12 8:44:12 AM by VVK

 
Dragon Writer
I agree that definition #1 is not the same as definition #2. The description (has always) started out with a focus on #1, but the title sounds like #2.
Okay, so, how about, say, splitting this and calling the old definition 1 "The Only One Who Notices The Elephant" or something? That name is not literal, but I can't see what it could be mistaken for, and an elephant should be a pretty good thing that is big, obvious, and out of place practically anywhere.
 
Only Sane Man found in: 4327 articles, excluding discussions.

Since January 1, 2012 this article has brought 1, 448 people to the wiki from non-search engine links.


While I'm behind the split, we definitely need to figure out which definition the majority of examples are using, and let that one have the title. Otherwise this is just going to be impossible.
Well, it looks pretty clear to me, but I don't have the background knowledge it seems it would take to actually start classifying all the examples one by one.

edited 6th Aug '12 5:20:26 AM by VVK

 
Dragon Writer
An example off the top of my head: Beauty in Bobobo Bo Bobobo gets cited as the Only Sane Man - she's the only member of the protagonists who thinks that the crazy antics occuring on any given episodes are, well, crazy. And being the type of show it is, crazy happens every single episode.

Where on the dividing line does this fall? I'm thinking misuse because there's nothing crazy or out of place going on, relative to the context of its universe (an important point because B's universe is just plain crazy to begin with).

edited 6th Aug '12 8:38:14 AM by Stratadrake

Sounds kind of like both definitions at the same time.
 
I'm so not qualified, but since I started this, let me take a stab at it:

Anime and Manga:

Apologies for any name typos.

So, I make that 12 for definition 1, 39 for 2, 32 unclear, 7 that fit either...

Disclaimers:
  • This is only for anime and manga.
  • I don't actually know most of the works.
  • Sometimes several characters are counted as one "example", usually not, without any real rule.

But regardless, this makes a strong case that definition 2 is the dominant one. Note that many or most of the questionmarked ones just mentioned a character — which makes definition 2 more likely, since definition 1 is about specific situations and 2 is about a character's more general role.

edited 16th Sep '12 2:16:44 AM by VVK

 
World's Toughest Milkman
The simplest solution—the only one that isn't likely to require a year-long cleanup effort—is to broaden the definition to encompass the use. I agree that type two seems to dominate. It's mostly what I've seen browsing the wiki. But I think type two can be made to incorporate type one.

If someone really wants to split off type one as a separate subtrope, they can always do so later, using the standard procedures (YKTTW, not TRS).
"Existential Despair" is an oxymoron.
Alice wakes up one morning to notice there's an elephant in the living room. When she remarks about it to someone else, they just go "What elephant?" No matter how much she tries, she can't make anyone else admit that there's an elephant there, even while they have to squeeze around it.

Alice is a perfectly sensible person who's part of a group where Bob is a Cloud Cuckoolander, Carol is a Mad Scientist who's contantly blowing stuff up, and David is morbidly afraid of water.

The first is an example of definition 1 ("the only one who notices something crazy is going on").
A better interpretation of definition 1, IMO, is that nobody else will acknowledge that it's strange that an elephant is in the room.

edited 17th Sep '12 8:32:40 AM by tbarrie

[up]

Maybe a better example, both work for the definition as far as I can see.

[up][up]

I agree. Shall we vote to change or something, then?

edited 20th Sep '12 10:04:22 AM by VVK

 
[up] [up] I believe that would better qualify as Elephant in the Room, where no one wants to acknowledge the 'elephant' and so pretend it doesn't exit

edited 22nd Sep '12 10:44:50 AM by ChaoticNovelist

 
World's Toughest Milkman
[up][up]If we're just going to be changing the definition, a better approach is to try to work out a definition that people can agree on, then vote whether to install it.

The second part can be optional if the new definition is so clearly an improvement that support is strong and unanimous. This case may be too fuzzy for that to happen.
"Existential Despair" is an oxymoron.
[up][up] It would be a better example of that than how I was using it too, but if we're talking about qualifying for a trope, it does qualify for the definition I was talking about. (I don't know why we're discussing this, but I'm always ready to do conceptual analysis.)

[up] It seems pretty easy to me. Just use definition 2, but without the implication that it should be a permanent dynamic, and that makes definition 1 one narrow instance that goes under it.
 
Okay, so I think when I left this I was thinking something like this: Change the definition to: "A character who contrasts with a group (s)he is in being relatively normal when the others are all or nearly all of them weird in some way." This is trying to be an exact definition against which every example could be weighed, so it may need further honing.

The description could elaborate on this a bit and give a hypothetical example, mention that it can apply either permanently or just in a particular situation, and then note that there is also a standard comedy piece where the Only Sane Man is the only one noticing something weird is going on or reacting to it, thus mentioning the old meaning as well.
 
Piffy
[up] Well, it's technically not hypothetical, but in my RP group (character names changed), Alice is an undead serial killer with psychopathic tendencies, Bob suffers from the delusion that he's a dead president, Charlie paranoid retired sniper, Doug is a severely depressed Empty Shell frequently subject to Demonic Possession by Alice, Emily is a Undead Child Mad Scientist with Immortal Immaturity, and Fred is the fairly well-adjusted mercenary whose leadership keeps all these people pointed towards a common goal.

Then they go through a Psychological Torment Zone, Fred has a psychotic break as a result, and the "Only Sane Man" torch is passed to Gardenia, a medical doctor who ends up getting drafted into the group after Fred is hospitalised.

(EDIT: Wait, I just reread your post and that wasn't actually necessarily a request for an example to put in. Whoops. >.> )

edited 2nd Dec '12 4:37:21 PM by Pig_catapult

Because underscores break everything: Working link to my Troper page

Single Proposition: Only Sane Man
13th Jan '13 1:44:14 AM
Vote up for yes, down for no.
At issue:
Current use and description of the trope are split between "the only one who reacts to the crazy thing that's happening" and the broader "the only normal one in a group of weirdos". The latter seems to be used more often. Change/clarify definition to be "the only normal one in a group of weirdos", including the other definition as a subset?
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