Main From Nobody To Nightmare Discussion

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12:50:03 PM Apr 25th 2013
There are so many examples on here that don't match the trope description, but I don't want to make a large change willy-nilly. Many of these examples are people who, through their own design, become incredibly dangerous. According to the trope description, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and finding your calling isn't really the spirit of this. Who cares if the character was at one point a child? At some point, we all were. Some examples are particularly bad- Xykon, who was a sadist since childhood, is mentioned as being an example on its trope page. If Xykon counts, this seems towards People Sit on Chairs. All bad humans were children at some point, they don't plop out of the womb with spikes of villainy. Now, I'd understand if the trope included some clause about seeing villains back when they were harmless kids, but it doesn't say that at all- it merely says that the transformation must been an unlikely series of events that transformed a person who was on the road to normalcy to a path of nightmare fuel.

Now, take, for instance, Anikan, whose legendarily high force potential would have gone on unnoticed had he grown up as a slaveboy under ordinary circumstances: he was spotted by the right person at the right time, who just so happened to need his help, and then because he was in the hands of the right person, he was able to be trained in the ways of the force. And as a result of him being nobody he had weaknesses a Jedi would not normally have- and these weaknesses were exploited to make him fall. And the person able to exploit these weaknesses was Palpatine, who was exactly where he needed to be to make Anikan fall. And then, he became Darth Vader, the galaxy's most well known mass murderer.

Compare this to Xykon: Xykon was BORN a tool. Sure, he may have been aimless as a kid, but he was still a sadist who zombified his family. He killed just about everybody he met on his way to the top. He's exactly the sort of person you would expect to become a sorcerer lich: he was just lucky and powerful enough to bludgeon his way to the top.

I say we need a massive revision to the trope list: Cut anyone who wasn't "normal", cut any villain shown as a child, before growing up and becoming a villain and cut any examples that aren't actual "nightmares" and are rather normal villain figures. If we really think villains as kids is a trope, make it a separate trope.

Also, cut the heroes, unless they are some form of heroic abomination of some sort.
11:05:59 AM Aug 8th 2016
Three years later, a lot of the issues OP points out are still here. A lot of examples should probably be deleted, although I feel sort of uncomfortable doing so without some discussion.

There are a lot of bad webcomic examples (including the Xykon one critiqued by OP!). Pretty much all the Order of the Stick examples are bad except for maaaybe the Dark One, although his Nightmarishness is debatable, and it's more Deity of Human Origin.

The Homestuck examples combine a great example with lots of really poor ones. Jack Noir is a random bureaucrat who becomes an omnipotent, universe-destroying abomination due to several coincidences outside of his control: his discovery of PM's package, and the accidental prototyping of Bec. In several other universes, Jack is an ally of the player and is considerably less important.

In contrast, the other Homestuck examples are all characters who have some kind of dramatic Face–Heel Turn, but all start out as having a decent level of power and importance (lacking the Nobody criterion). The Aranea example is particularly egregious, since from her introduction she is a god-tier player and literal Exposition Fairy with lots of power even from beyond the grave. And the whole point of her character arc is that her inherent arrogant and controlling tendencies drive her to villainy despite good intentions; despite lacking Vriska's Freudian Excuses she still does bad things. That is the the opposite of this trope, as her villainy is entirely due to her own agency and traits.

If there's no response, I will probably cull some examples in a few days.
12:27:41 PM Aug 8th 2016
The thing is, being a tool or evil from the word go has nothing to do with this trope. It's not Used To Be Such A Sweet Kid. The difference is power. And Xykon was a nobody. At one point he was just a Big Bad Wannabe but it isn't until he was turned into a lich he became thing resembling the cosmic thread he turns out to be.
09:27:37 PM Jan 25th 2013
Would this example from He-Man count?

"A poor man named Nepthu limps across the Sands of Time in search for the Temple of The Sun. Inside he claims the Scarab of Power, a magical jewel. The scarab's power transforms Nepthu into a muscular, dominating being."

I'm not sure, because he's a one-shot villain, and is back to normal by the end of the episode. (Really a shame, too.)
04:34:33 AM Sep 7th 2012
related to Zero To Hero?

05:11:27 PM May 11th 2012
edited by illegalcheese
So, I'd argue that this trope would work just as well for heroes. I mean, you wouldn't get anything that nightmarish, but certainly a nightmare for the other side to deal with. Otherwise the details would theoretically be exactly the same as is already described.

Though, granted, the bare bones of that sort of thing is exceedingly common in Heroic Fantasy, etc. kinds of fiction, I feel that the trope would still be in effect if an emphasis on a "before/after" effect is put in place, or just the sheer scale of badassery or greatness or what have you to which a once extremely unassuming, if heroic, individual has climbed is made apparent. So, yes, editors would have to be much more discerning about heroic examples than with villainous ones.
03:11:07 PM Jan 23rd 2012
Deleted the second "Real Life" folder because it was redundant. Also it was redundant. And because it was redundant, I deleted it.
05:49:01 PM Oct 13th 2011
What's with all the heroic/generic badass examples? The trope implies villainy very heavily.
05:56:24 PM Aug 11th 2011
I took out one of the Kung Fu Panda examples because I'm familiar enough with it to find its presence here particularly egregious, but I really think the whole page could use a trim by people more familiar with the other works in question than I am. The trope description talks about the Nobody being, well, a nobody, someone who, if not for a twist of fate, would live and die unrecognized, unmarked by history—not someone who's starting with genius IQ or a noble title or respectable skills in martial arts. It then describes the Nightmare with a link to Eldritch Abomination and talks about being a threat on a universal scale, powerful enough to nuke entire civilizations to a fine gray powder—not run of the mill recurring comic book villains and serial killers. I really do think people are stretching the use here, on both ends.

I know people like to trumpet their favorite badasses and all, but if characters like that whole list of Spiderman villains apply, I really think the phrasing of the trope could stand to be toned down several notches.
02:01:19 PM Oct 13th 2011
I think the block of Spider-man villains says less about any trope decay and more of Spider-man's love of Freak Lab Accidents (which undoubtedly do fall under the "twist of fate" descriptor, if nothing else).
07:38:07 AM Apr 4th 2011
Where's this Adrian Selene in Web Original from? Sounds like something I want to read/watch/whatever.
02:12:49 PM Apr 8th 2010
Is Anakin Skywalker really an example? I mean, it took over ten years for him to get that powerful/screwed-up; that's hardly overnight.
03:09:16 PM Jun 2nd 2011
Having the change be quick isn't really necessary to the trope; all that matters is, once upon a time, they were a nobody. It says so in the article ("whether instantly or over the course of a story...")
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