Complaining: Vanilla Protagonist

Deadlock Clock: 27th Feb 2014 11:59:00 PM
Total posts: [120]
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1 Rebochan1st Dec 2013 10:32:59 PM from Soaking up Rays
I've got Sunshine!
I figured I'd tag the biggest offender of this trope, but it also has issues with being incredibly vague and unclear, which is what's causing it to become a dumping ground for bad examples.

Here's the current description for reference:

"This trope is when, compared to the many compelling "supporting" characters, the character whose point of view we have to look through is less interesting. This can cause the side plots (those involving the supporting cast) to be seen as more important than the main storyline.

This isn't about the popularity of the protagonist with fans. Sometimes the protagonist isn't even intended to be a fan favorite. They are just there to provide a way to watch the characters that are cool. The protagonist is generic in order to provide an Audience Surrogate or The Everyman.

Not to be confused with Designated Hero, which is a character who the story plays up as being heroic, but comes off as being distinctly unheroic. A Pinball Protagonist may also result in this trope—the poor sap is simply dragged around the plot by stronger characters. Compare the Standardized Leader who is similarly generic in order to lead The Team of more complex characters and be accessible to viewers."

So this trope seems to be trying to slam together a lot of very distinct tropes (most of which are not flagged as subjective anyway) into a bizarre trope blender and somehow try to describe a single character that really just boils down to "I don't think this protagonist is nearly as interesting as this other guy." The third paragraph in particular points out a lot of trope types a protagonist could fall into, but right now, this trope is seemingly clumping them into a pile. It also seems to be a dumping ground for people to complain that they like the Ensemble Darkhorse or Spotlight-Stealing Squad better...but as we already have perfectly good pages for describing them, it's odd to have this one basically be the whining page (i.e. "Wolverine is WAYYY cooler than cyclops!")

I also find it curious that it doesn't want to be related the Designated Hero, in spite of literally using that trope's name for a syndrome.

If there's something salvageable, I think it does need a really strong scrubbing and a solid rewrite of the description to make it clear and distinct from the tropes it's slamming together. And also a good rename to boot if it's literally not supposed to be the Designated Hero. - Filthy Digital Ramblings, musings on media.
2 Larkmarn1st Dec 2013 10:43:02 PM , Relationship Status: Hello, I love you
A: At the very least, it'll need a cleanup because I'd imagine that these tropes are a dumping ground for "I find the lead character boring."

B: I do think it does have merit basically for noting that, largely due to Standardized Leader, writers are very afraid to take risks with their lead characters. As such, the satellite characters often wind up more colorful and interesting than the leader.

C: The name does suck. I've seen (and corrected) people misusing Designated Hero for Designated Protagonist Syndrome and vice versa.

edited 1st Dec '13 10:46:45 PM by Larkmarn

3 Rebochan1st Dec 2013 11:04:33 PM from Soaking up Rays
I've got Sunshine!
I almost wonder if what you're describing as a problem is better suited for a trope that defines a useful term, but really doesn't need examples. - Filthy Digital Ramblings, musings on media.
4 theAdeptrogue2nd Dec 2013 04:15:05 AM , Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
Agreed - those examples are terrible. Most of them basically boils down into: "Protagonist from X is boring." or "The supposed protagonist (or other members of the main cast that are not the protagonists) of X series have been Demoted to Extra." or, even worse, "I don't like this protagonist/ this protagonist is a scrappy."

I personally have no problems with the name, since Protagonist and Hero is not the same thing, but people do tend to confuse one with the other and use them interchangeably. It could probably be changed into something like Generic Protagonist, or something similar.

edited 3rd Dec '13 2:03:10 AM by theAdeptRogue

5 Grounder2nd Dec 2013 04:20:06 AM , Relationship Status: All is for my lord
Main Character
[up]Generic Protagonist is a very unclear name.
6 AnotherDuck2nd Dec 2013 02:53:58 PM from Stockholm , Relationship Status: In season
No, the other one.
Check out my fanfiction!
Audience Surrogate Protagonist?

(Should that get a different page from Audience Surrogate? Probably not.)
8 theAdeptRogue2nd Dec 2013 07:43:04 PM , Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
[up]Wouldn't that just make a case of The Same, but More Specific case of Audience Surrogate + Protagonist? This trope is basically about a writing device to make the Protagonist more relatable to a wider range of audience by purposely making him/her as generic as possible.

edited 2nd Dec '13 7:43:45 PM by theAdeptRogue

I'm suggesting that "make the Protagonist more relatable to a wider range of audience by purposely making him/her as generic as possible" is exactly the same as "Audience Surrogate.Protagonist"
I feel like this page is trying to describe a few different phenomena.

One, which we might already have or might have YKTTW'd at some point, is an objective trope where the viewpoint character is only observing the events being played out by more interesting characters. The other, subjective trope is when the audience finds the supporting characters more interesting than the ostensible hero. Then there's the objective (if potentially The Same, but More Specific) phenomenon where a protagonist is left a comparatively Flat Character the better for them to serve as an Audience Surrogate.

I think whoever created this page got his "hero" and "protagonist" mixed up. If the "hero" is just a lens through which we're watching the more interesting characters, he's not really a hero, is he? No one would call Watson the hero of the Sherlock Holmes stories.

edited 2nd Dec '13 8:13:45 PM by MorganWick

11 theAdeptRogue3rd Dec 2013 12:09:53 AM , Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
[up][up]But an Audience Surrogate doesn't have to be a generic character, do they? Which is why I think the two tropes are quite distinct.

[up]That first definition should be already covered by First-Person Peripheral Narrator, and I'm not sure the second one is tropeable. That seems to be inviting a medium to complain about protagonists.
According to the Audience Surrogate page, "audience surrogate" can refer to three different things. On this wiki, the "Audience Surrogate" trope is "A character who the audience (or the children in the audience) doesn't just sympathize with, but are supposed to actively see themselves as — by desire, by default, or by author inference."
13 theAdeptRogue3rd Dec 2013 02:06:55 AM , Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
Maybe this page could redirect to Normal People? That latter page is about "The various "everyman" characters in media. Since a large portion of the audience is probably like this they are also the No. 1. candidates to become the Audience Surrogate you are expected to identify with." - which seems to be what this trope is basically about, only not limited to protagonists.
If you peel away the subjectivity a bit, it's pretty much First-Person Peripheral Narrator except not limited to First Person, right? (Which would just be Peripheral Narrator I guess.)
Rhymes with "Protracted."
15 theAdeptrogue4th Dec 2013 02:52:25 AM , Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
[up]But considering that First-Person Peripheral Narrator isn't exactly limited to First Person narrative either, wouldn't that make the two tropes exactly the same thing?

As it is, the current definition of this trope is more similar to the Normal People index (which I've only known about recently), but limited to protagonist. Not sure if this is an important distinction, since we already have several tropes with similar connotations, such as Ordinary High-School Student, The Everyman, Naďve Everygirl, etc.

edited 4th Dec '13 2:52:53 AM by theAdeptrogue

16 Rebochan8th Dec 2013 08:06:51 PM from Soaking up Rays
I've got Sunshine!
I just nuked another entry that was simply complaining about the lead characters. This is getting near critical.

I still like the idea of reworking this as a No Examples trope that describes a writer's tendancy to make the main protagonist "safer" in favor of letting side characters be more outrageous (and thus easier to excise if it's problematic.) Though this might be tricky. In that case, Generic Protagonist Syndrome would be a good rename.

edited 8th Dec '13 8:08:12 PM by Rebochan - Filthy Digital Ramblings, musings on media.
17 theAdeptRogue8th Dec 2013 09:04:40 PM , Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
I seriously agree. Those examples are a mess, and I'm sorely tempted to remove a huge chunk of them, but I don't want to be called out for vandalism. Besides, this does seem to be about the writing convention rather than a story/plot device, so it's probably best to leave the page example-less because there's no way a reader can tell the intentions behind a protagonist's development are, unless confirmed by Word of God.
To put my two cents in, I feel that Designated Protagonist Syndrome a better trope then Sidekick Glass Ceiling as skgs is mosly about superpowers when It could be about anyone.

That said, I think the real problem is gushing. Ether Gushing About Characters You Like or Gushing About Villains You Like . It feels like most of the examples are not setting out to complain about x character, but to promote x character; even if said character is an antagonists who should stay on there own page(The Heavy) and not be mixed in on a page protagonists.
19 4Ks14th Dec 2013 12:01:02 PM from Nowhere, USA , Relationship Status: Above such petty unnecessities
Time Waster
This trope feels pretty redundant, and it's a bit too subjective IMO. I recommend cutlisting it and moving all relevant examples to Designated Hero.
[up]This trope has nothing to do with Designated Hero. Textbook example of Everything's Worse with Snowclones.

edited 15th Dec '13 1:38:47 AM by DiamondWeapon

21 Willbyr15th Jan 2014 03:51:39 AM from North Little Rock, AR , Relationship Status: Pining for the fjords
Clock is set.
22 Rebochan15th Jan 2014 01:16:02 PM from Soaking up Rays
I've got Sunshine!
Welp, what to do then? Can we get a poll put onto this thread to deal with the options brought up here? - Filthy Digital Ramblings, musings on media.
23 theAdeptrogue15th Jan 2014 03:13:52 PM , Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
I don't mind a crowner, but do we actually have a consensus for any of those options?
24 SeptimusHeap15th Jan 2014 11:40:21 PM from Laniakea , Relationship Status: Mu
Gauging consensus is the whole point of having a crowner, actually.
25 theAdeptrogue16th Jan 2014 11:24:51 PM , Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
[up]Good point. It's just that there hasn't been much discussion going on for any of the options, but maybe it's just me.

Alternative Titles: Designated Protagonist Syndrome
28th May '14 7:30:52 AM
Vote up names you like, vote down names you don't. Whether or not the title will actually be changed is determined with a different kind of crowner (the Single Proposition crowner). This one just collects and ranks alternative titles.
At issue:

Total posts: 120
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