Main Losing Is Worse Than Death Discussion

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01:52:10 PM Sep 20th 2013
edited by
I have grave doubts about this example in the Live Action Television folder:
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Often Q will taunt the crew with games he's invented to test the crew's morals. He even comments that games are more important than life: "The play is the thing".
First of all, I can't recall a single instance of Q actually saying this — but since the "example" doesn't bother to cite any specific episodes, this is very difficult to verify. But, more significantly, this is a complete misinterpetation of the phrase.

"The play's the thing" is a Shout Out to Shakespeare, and it refers to a stage play, not any kind of game. The line occurs in Hamlet, in the context of a Show Within a Show. Hamlet suspects that his father (the previous king) was murdered by the current king, Claudius. He plans to trick Claudius into revealing his guilt by adding lines about regicide to a play that Claudius will see performed. Hamlet intends to watch Claudius closely to see if he flinches when those lines are spoken.
Hamlet: I'll have grounds
More relative than this - the play's the thing
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King.
It is inconceivable that a line from Hamlet could be misused on Star Trek: The Next Generation in the manner suggested by this example. The series is loaded with Shakespeare references, which are always used in an intelligent and informed way. This is largely due to the presence of Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard), who was an experienced Shakespearean stage actor before the series began, and who actually played Claudius in two productions of Hamlet. John de Lancie, the actor playing Q, is also a veteran Shakespearean stage performer. With both of these actors on the set, you can be sure that any misinterpretation of a line from Hamlet would be instantly pointed out and corrected before production could continue.

So no, "the play's the thing" has nothing to do with winning or losing.
11:05:13 PM Sep 27th 2013
No one has offered any defense of this "example," so I am deleting it — and the Live Action Television folder, since this is the only item it contains.
01:17:03 PM Sep 20th 2013
This "example" in the Film folder strikes me as inadequate:
  • James Bond takes poker to an absurd level, refusing to lose even when losing will give him a clean getaway.
An interesting observation, but shouldn't it cite at least one specific James Bond movie in which he behaves that way?
01:15:58 AM Dec 21st 2013
Can anyone suggest an instance of 007 demonstrating a Losing Is Worse Than Death attitude toward poker? If not, this "example" should be deleted.
01:45:12 PM Dec 31st 2013
No one did, so I have deleted this "example."
07:06:47 AM Sep 11th 2013
I've put up a list of differences between LIWTD and SPIFL (at least how I interpret it) - could someone check to see if I have the right impression of each trope?
11:07:23 PM Oct 4th 2010
Re Cut:

No, this is not simply Second Place Is for Losers plus Honor Before Reason. There may be some cases in fiction where losing is worse than death.

For instance, if you are in a fiddling contest with the Devil, then losing that will probably be worse than death. Anything that, if you lose, will send you directly to Hell (do not pass Go, do not leave anything to bury) is likely to be this.

Likewise, any contest which lands people who lose into Fates Worse than Death in general or And I Must Scream situations in particular would qualify.
02:54:41 PM Oct 5th 2010
edited by thiefoftime
No, that's not what it is.

Taken from the introduction: This trope is when characters consider losing a match to be dishonorable to the point that they'd rather die than lose

What you're saying would fit more under Absurdly High-Stakes Game, and this is pretty much Second Place Is for Losers plus Honor Before Reason.
02:27:56 PM Oct 8th 2010
No, not quite. Second Place Is for Losers implies that there is a third place, that the "loser" in question could have empirically done worse — it says that in the description. This trope should also apply to two-player games and to people who really did end up in last place.
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