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improve (page action crowner): Karma Houdini get usage counts

the description of the Karma Houdini trope is basically "Laser Guided Karma misses". The description for laser guided karma is that it is an unrealistic and anvilicious space whale aesop.

There are 3 issues with it: 1. If it is merely a subversion of another trope, why does it merit its own name?

2. Since it subverts the unrealistic space whale aesop by having a realistic "nothing happens" why is it even mentioned? might as well make a trope called "gravity". And naturally, because it is something so mundane there are a ridiculous amount of examples, enough that each medium gets their own page.

3. A good number of the examples actually are not subversions of laser guided karma, but an actual opposite; the opposite is where villains don't just get away with doing bad things, but they get away with doing things that there is absolutely no logical explanation how they could have gotten away with it...

I think the best approach is to amend the definition to fit #3, where its not that villain gets away, but that they get away with no punishment where there is no logical explanation on how they could escape retribution.

PS. I didn't associate this thread with the Karma Houdini article because I can't, it is associated already with a scrapped thread called "Troper tales section seems to have been recently scrapped" (it wasn't scrapped, it was moved to "troper tales"). And I couldn't find any instructions OR rules for the forums to tell me what to do in such a situation... So I opted to leave it blank, if someone knows a more correct way to handle such a gaffaw please tell me. If there is a rules thread that I was missing please link it.

edited 18th Dec '10 8:16:52 AM by taltamir

 2 Mag Bas, Sat, 18th Dec '10 8:55:09 AM from In my house
Courtesy link: Karma Houdini

 3 BlackWolfe, Sat, 18th Dec '10 9:00:06 AM from Lost in Austin
Okay, that first sentence is misleading. Here's the most trope-appropriate section of the page:

Only... that's not what happens. He doesn't get what he deserves. Instead, he thumbs his nose at the hero, dons his baby harp seal cape made from baby harp seals he personally clubbed himself and dashes off into the night scot-free.

It's not an aversion of Laser-Guided Karma, so much as it is an aversion of any kind of karma at all.

Also, Mag Bas, if you stick @/ before your name in your title, it'll actually point to your contributor page. Which is also blank. .[

edited 18th Dec '10 9:01:46 AM by BlackWolfe

But soft! What rock through yonder window breaks? It is a brick! And Juliet is out cold.
 5 Ironeye, Sat, 18th Dec '10 10:08:11 PM from SoCal Relationship Status: Falling within your bell curve
Cutmaster-san
Please continue the discussion here. The other thread's issue has been settled.
I'm bad, and that's good. I will never be good, and that's not bad. There's no one I'd rather be than me.
"It's not an aversion of Laser Guided Karma, so much as it is an aversion of any kind of karma at all."

Karma (the religious concept) is explicitly the belief you will get your just rewards in your next incarnation. The pop culture notion of "Karma" is that anyone who is evil will get their "just rewards" at the end of the show, aka "laser guided karma"; in other words, the way you used karma IS "laser guided karma". (of course there is a difference to karma the religious concept, but its not applicable or related).

edited 18th Dec '10 10:36:19 PM by taltamir

 7 Tyoria, Sat, 18th Dec '10 10:50:48 PM from Portland, Oregon
rationally insane
If a trope has a subversion that's both distinct enough and common enough to identify on its own, it will often get its own page. Given that this is a site about fictional media, "realistic" outcomes that are uncommon do indeed have tropes of their own. Reality Is Unrealistic. Reality Ensues. "Villains will get a comeuppance" is so common in media as to be an Omnipresent Trope. I don't know if it's been launched yet, but there was a "The Good Guys Always Win" trope on YKTTW recently that people were complaining was People Sit on Chairs. It's that common.

"Karma" is used... loosely. Laser-Guided Karma, as opposed to the more common (but still misused) version is that the villain gets a comeuppance that is not only deserved but downright ironic. The article's statement that the Karma Houdini is when "even" Laser-Guided Karma fails strikes me as odd, when Laser-Guided Karma is the more specific variant but the trope is about the dodging of any "karma" at all.

edited 18th Dec '10 11:07:24 PM by Tyoria

not having any "karma" at all (not the religious incarnation construct, the trope that occurs in fiction) is the norm, in the sense that having gravity is the norm... might as well have a trope named "gravity exists". Or if you want something that subverts a common misconception... "convection exists" and "accurately realistic weapons".

Because the trope as is is basically the lack of a space whale aesop a huge portion of works feature it, enough so that the trope "Karma Houdini" sprawls over a dozen separate pages (one per media) with hundreds of examples.

I really think a more focused variation of it would work better. Say, if the karma houdini was actually pulling an impossible or unusual escape (aka, a Houdini) and avoiding consequences for something that by all rights there should be consequences for. For example, in the GTA games if you are caught after killing several cops, they will take some of your money and let you loose on the streets. There is no plausible explanation as to how you got away with it, you just do. By narrowing the focus of the trope, it gains meaning. Note that a good portion of the examples given for that trope already fall into this narrower definition... its just that a very large amount of them do not, and are merely the aversion of laser guided karma.

edited 19th Dec '10 12:18:13 AM by taltamir

 9 sgrunt, Sun, 19th Dec '10 12:40:38 AM from the depths of your mind
Karma Houdini found in: 1809 articles, excluding discussions.

This title has brought 2, 924 people to the wiki from non-search engine links since 20th FEB '09.

As far as I can tell, Karma Houdini is well-known, well-defined and well-used. Prove misuse or there's no reason to continue this discussion.
This space for rent. Cost: your soul.
@sgrunt: I already have. I have listed several reasons why it's not well-defined, and why it's not well-used. I have gone into depth and clearly articulated exactly why and how in my posts in this discussion. Do you disagree with my reasoning? if so, on what grounds?

 11 Deboss, Sun, 19th Dec '10 1:01:31 AM from Awesomeville Texas
I see the Awesomeness.
He means go through the wicks and check to see how it's being misused. If it's not being misused in the wicks, it's not being misused.
 12 sgrunt, Sun, 19th Dec '10 1:12:53 AM from the depths of your mind
Apologies - I'm viewing this as a renaming, which it isn't. So let's get down to business.

Do you disagree with my reasoning?

Yes.

On what grounds?

Let's examine your originally stated reasoning.

1. If it is merely a subversion of another trope, why does it merit its own name?
There is no exact opposite to this trope. Let's examine the cited definitions briefly.

As written on the page itself:
He doesn't get what he deserves. Instead, he thumbs his nose at the hero, dons his baby harp seal cape made from baby harp seals he personally clubbed himself and dashes off into the night scot-free.

As succinctly put in this thread:
[[I]]it is an aversion of any kind of karma at all.

As succinctly put in the laconic entry:
A villain who gets off scot-free, just because.

So if this is to be considered a subversion, what, exactly, is it subverting - that the villain to receive their comeuppance in some sense? If I'm not mistaken, attempting to trope that would be a clear example of People Sit on Chairs. If you're dealing with extremely appropriate comeuppance, that gets into Laser-Guided Karma territory, but as far as I can tell the 'straight' form of the trope you claim to be 'subverting' does not exist.

2. Since it subverts the unrealistic space whale aesop
...a subversion of Space Whale Aesop has nothing to do with the above discussion. A Space Whale Aesop is An Aesop with extremely unlikely consequences in the face of unusual actions. The concept of a villain escaping punishment has nothing to do with story morals except possibly in the sense of Broken Aesop or similar.

3. A good number of the examples actually are not subversions of laser guided karma
As established above, this has no direct relation to Laser-Guided Karma.

not having any "karma" at all[...]is the norm
In the sense that "karma" is being used here, you're asserting that villains nigh-universally escape any just punishment in fiction. Common sense suggests otherwise.

Because the trope as is is basically the lack of a space whale aesop
See above argument relating to Space Whale Aesop.

I have listed several reasons[...]why it's not well-used.
As far as I can tell, none of your arguments relate to specific examples listed in the article not actually being examples of the trope as defined. Can you show otherwise?

edited 19th Dec '10 1:14:52 AM by sgrunt

This space for rent. Cost: your soul.
 13 Mag Bas, Sun, 19th Dec '10 4:06:50 PM from In my house
I was reading here and want to note the following things:
  • 1-If the trope really is the aversion of ANY kind of karma exist lots of misuses-cases where the villain WAS punished, only not SUFFICIENTLY punished.
  • 2-One trope of "the villain suffers one commeaupance" is not People Sit on Chairs. Seriously, let's examine it?
    • "Tropes are conventions used in storytelling to convey some sort of information across to the audience. People Sit On Chairs don't convey any meaning they aren't storytelling conventions at all, they're just things that happen normally or incidentally during the storytelling."
Liking or not, "the villain suffer one commeaupance" IS one storyline convention, despite being really commom.
  • "Note, that the criticism here isn't simply that the trope in question is "too common". There are some extremely common Cliches, and Omnipresent Tropes, that appear in fiction maybe even as frequently as chairs, but these are still storytelling devices. Conversely, a trope suggestion can still be guilty of People Sit On Chairs even if it doesn't literally appear all the time, but in the cases when it does, it is just used without a purpose. "
As noted, this IS one storyline device.
  • 3-Despite the misuses, exists one LOT of legitimate entries in Karma Houdini, probably more in one only media than all the entries in Laser-Guided Karma in all the medias . In other words, the villain have no commeaupance is more commom than the persons believe.

edited 19th Dec '10 4:13:32 PM by MagBas

 14 Tyoria, Sun, 19th Dec '10 5:02:44 PM from Portland, Oregon
rationally insane
Omnipresent Trope does not equal People Sit on Chairs, but "the villain will get a comeuppance" is still way more likely to come into play than the Karma Houdini. The Good Guy Wins is the norm. The Bad Guy Wins is the subversion. If "The Good Guys Win" is a legitimate trope and not People Sit on Chairs, why would the less-common subversion be "gravity exists" which is People Sit on Chairs? I'm aware of the fact that there are a ton of examples (very aware, as it happens), but "there are a bunch of examples" doesn't mean it's necessarily a bad trope. When it happens, it strongly resonates with people, and they're much more likely to remember it and trope about it. If you want to make a trope like "Improbable Karma Escape", or "Karma Ex Machina", or something, you could YKTTW it.

edited 19th Dec '10 5:07:32 PM by Tyoria

 15 Mag Bas, Sun, 19th Dec '10 5:25:26 PM from In my house
...i not argued that it is People Sit on Chairs, only that "the villain is punished" is not(and also that the trope is misused and that cases of Karma Houdini are more commom that appear)but now that you mentioned- the cases where Karma Houdini is used as literary device are rares. In more cases, the villain simply was not punished. In other words...well, not exists one trope to aversions of Explosions in Space, right? Because the villain not be punished is less meaningful than one aversion to Explosions in Space and the trope yet is the not subverted/averted version despite saying to list only subversions/aversions . Also, looks in Easily Forgiven, that is so big when one of the Karma Houdini pages and regularly causes this.

edited 19th Dec '10 6:29:10 PM by MagBas

 16 Tyoria, Sun, 19th Dec '10 6:28:14 PM from Portland, Oregon
rationally insane
You did not say that Karma Houdini was People Sit on Chairs in so many words, but you did say it was as meaningful as "gravity exists" which is tantamount to the same thing.

"Not deliberately used as a trope" doesn't necessarily mean it's not a trope either. Moral Dissonance can be used intentionally (generally used to illustrate shades of gray) or unintentionally (your Designated Hero). Some of the subjective tropes can likewise be used intentionally, as in characters we are supposed to view as Complete Monsters.

...I'm not sure I even follow the rest of your argument. Explosions in Space is so ubiquitous you're only supposed to list aversions. Consider Karma Houdini the polar opposite of the ubiquitous "The Bad Guy Will Get a Comeuppance" trope that we don't have because it's so ubiquitous. In both cases, you only have the one trope, which talks about the less-common occurrence. It's just differing on the emphasis.

 17 Mag Bas, Sun, 19th Dec '10 6:33:44 PM from In my house
Not was i who said that this is equivalent to "gravity works". Was taltamir.

 18 Tyoria, Sun, 19th Dec '10 6:35:37 PM from Portland, Oregon
rationally insane
Oh, I'm sorry.

 19 Meta Four, Sun, 19th Dec '10 8:37:04 PM from the house of bread and battle
AXTUCE MUN AXTE INCAL
Regarding the difference between Laser-Guided Karma and "karma" as most of our tropes use it: Call It Karma spells out the differences.
Call It Karma explains the original meaning and the new meaning and lists all the karma tropes on tvtropes. they are:

  • Karma Meter: The use of a simple scale to track a Player Character's morality.
  • Karmic Death: Evil acts will bring about a character's certain and Irony-laden death.
  • Karma Houdini: An evil character shrugs off any bad karma he has and gets away mostly scott free with all the bastardly deeds he's done
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: An evil character (or lovable rogue) tries to go good, but has all their bad karma catch up to them because they want to change.
  • Karmic Jackpot: One tiny good deed creates a cascade of overwhelming good fortune.
  • Karmic Protection: Not being overtly evil means the universe can't be overly bad to you.
  • Karmic Transformation: Detesting a group or species means you will turn into one of them.
  • Laser Guided Karma: Doing a bad thing will get you promptly and neatly whacked by celestial forces.
  • Sexual Karma: When being good gets you goodies, and being bad gets you... boned.

Notice that there isn't "just karma by itself". The notion that someone is punished for their wickedness is Laser-Guided Karma, with Sexual Karma and Karmic Transformation both being more specific examples of Laser-Guided Karma. Laser-Guided Karma IS "Karma".

From Laser-Guided Karma: [q]While in real life there is rarely a direct and easily traced relation between actions and their subsequent reward or punishment, in fiction the connection is usually a lot more...direct. Help an old lady across the street? Several chapters later, she'll turn out to be an elite ex-commando who will gladly help you storm the Big Bad's castle. Kick the little dog that's barking at you? The dog will sniff you out and lead the heroes right to your Supervillain Lair.[/q] (how do you put a quote in this forum? I can't find it, I will edit this out once i figure out) Regardless, whether it averts "just simple karma" or "Laser-Guided Karma" makes no difference to the argument. (I said subverts in previous posts and that was a mistake, I should have said averts)

So, it doesn't mean that punishment is immediate and ironic, it just means that there is a direct cause and effect between your actions and your rewards. When I said "the norm" I meant "in real life there is rarely a direct and easily traced relation between actions and their subsequent reward or punishment". Aka, having no Karma is People Sitting On Chairs.

I do agree that the majority of works (aka the norm for fiction) have Laser-Guided Karma, this is because it is an Omnipresent Trope. But the Karma Houdini isn't, its just People Sitting On Chairs. Or rather, a lot of it is, some of it isn't. Some of them is a character really pulling a houdini and escaping an impossible to escape situation. Where they get away with evil that they have no business being able to get away with it.

edited 19th Dec '10 9:30:06 PM by taltamir

I disagree with Karma Houdini being People Sit on Chairs. In my opinion, it's tantamount to What Happened to the Mouse?, Red Herring or The Untwist. Certain tropes (Complete Monster, for example) generate specific outcomes as expected by an audience. While there's certainly no reason to automatically assume that someone who does bad will get what's coming to them, it's used in fiction so often that we automatically expect the first trope to pay off with the second.

 22 sgrunt, Sun, 19th Dec '10 9:28:24 PM from the depths of your mind
The notion that someone is punished for their wickedness is Laser-Guided Karma

No. As I already explained, Laser-Guided Karma is more narrowly defined than that - it refers to a particularly appropriate punishment for the misdeeds (this is the Laser Guided part).

Being punished in general in response to misdeeds is not Laser-Guided Karma.
This space for rent. Cost: your soul.
@sgrunt: 1. It isn't defined more narrowly, I just quoted the definition. The term "laser guided" is somewhat misleading, the actual definition is "just regular old karma"

2. Doesn't matter even if it is, even if you say Laser-Guided Karma is highly specific karma and what I am referring to is actually "general karma" rather then "Laser Guided" then nothing changes in the argument, simply substitute Laser-Guided Karma with Karma.

@King Zeal: In which case its a straight aversion of the Omnipresent Trope Laser-Guided Karma rather then People Sitting On Chairs, and still doesn't warrant its own trope. Besides which, I pointed out that there are many actual cases where it does actually go beyond just People Sitting On Chairs.

edited 19th Dec '10 9:43:43 PM by taltamir

 24 sgrunt, Sun, 19th Dec '10 9:39:15 PM from the depths of your mind
It isn't definite more narrowly, I just quoted the definition. The term "laser guided" is somewhat misleading, the actual definition is "just regular old karma"

Let's look at the definition a little closer.

[...]in fiction the connection is usually a lot more...direct.

In other words, there's a direct connection between the deed and the subsequent follow-up.

Help an old lady across the street? Several chapters later, she'll turn out to be an elite ex-commando who will gladly help you storm the Big Bad's castle.

Example 1: assistance is directly tied to a good deed.

Kick the little dog that's barking at you? The dog will sniff you out and lead the heroes right to your Supervillain Lair.

Example 2: punishment is directly tied to a bad deed.

There is a direct connection. This is not plain old "karma".

Plain old karma is People Sitting On Chairs.

Your argument falls flat.

This space for rent. Cost: your soul.
plain old karma is not People Sitting On Chairs, Chairs are real things that people sit on, plain old karma doesn't exist beyond being a trope. Both "plain old karma" is a direct relationship between actions and punishments. Read Call It Karma for a clear and concise explanation: "Over time, Karma has often been misinterpreted as a direct cause-effect reaction to a characters actions, both good and bad".

edited 20th Dec '10 3:38:17 AM by taltamir

Page Action: Karma Houdini
2nd Apr '12 1:49:08 PM
What would be the best way to fix the page?
At issue:
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