Main Useless Protagonist Discussion

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04:18:22 PM Sep 19th 2014
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Does the character have to be *the* main character? John Connor from The Sarah Connor Chronicles fits: he's a point of view character who is utterly useless until he mans up some time in the future, but he isn't the title character, despite having about the same amount of screen time as Sarah.
04:11:10 PM Sep 21st 2014
Given that he has to be the protagonist, then yes, that does imply he's the main character.
02:54:44 AM Dec 1st 2013
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...really guys? Indiana Jones? Who is he supposed to be the not-lead-character to, huh?

This trope is just awful. It's completely unfocused and vague. The examples run the gamut of "This character doesn't have the universe revolve around them" to "I hate this guy!"
01:22:27 PM Dec 1st 2013
Well, "This character doesn't have the universe revolve around them" implies that the character in question is actually a secondary character. And "I hate this guy!" is pure complaining. Give a look in Madrugada's answer in one of the discussions of the page.
07:30:42 PM Dec 1st 2013
No character should have the entire universe revolve around him unless he's a Mary Sue. This trope seems to literally be describing a protagonist that needs other people to do things for him. I've nuked a few answers already that seemed to not understand that - for example, suggesting that Indiana Jones is unimportant to his his own movie because if you rewrote it to remove him and handwaved all the plot holes that creates (check the history - somebody literally just did that instead of removing what was obviously an awful example), you still have a bad example because he's not kicking back and letting other people do all his work for him.
08:14:06 PM Dec 1st 2013
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What this trope should be: The Load is the main character.

What this trope often winds up as: The main character isn't as effective as I think he should be.

The best example I can think of is Journey to the West; Xuanzang is a monk (not the warrior kind, the pacifist kind) and while he's the main character, all the "work" is done by his escorts. I'm shocked it's not in there.

It definitely has merit as a trope, sort of as a Perspective Flip to Supporting Protagonist.

The Indy example is clearly someone who noticed (or, more likely, saw from the Fridge Logic that Indy managed to break things just as often as he helped. It's still Square Peg, Round Trope, but I'm positive that's why he did it.
09:20:06 PM Dec 1st 2013
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I can agree with that assessment of what this trope should be. Maybe a good solid clean up is all that's needed.

Normally I do this on trope repair shop, but it's been full for days :P
09:41:24 PM Dec 1st 2013
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Yeah. We had a good stretch where there were opening for like a week. Ahhh... the salad days of youth.

I'll help where I can to clean up. I agree, it's a mess but a cleanup and and a bit of rewriting the description (... and honestly, some vigilance because people will shoehorn their least favorite characters) should be enough.

I feel like Overshadowed by Awesome should be mentioned in the description. Many of the examples are impressive in their own right, but just aren't at the apex of the power level of the work.
10:25:29 PM Dec 1st 2013
I think it's also important to distinguish the Useless Protagonist from the Supporting Protagonist and the Designated Hero. Because I can easily see where those tropes could be confused without a little more clarity.
01:21:41 PM Aug 20th 2013
Removed the Hawke entry because it doesn't fit. While Hawke never really gets the ball rolling, his actions are fairly necessary (by which I mean completely) for the plot to have occurred. Simply put; Hawke does stuff, even if it is only in response, so he can't fit.

Not sure exactly where he does, but he obviously doesn't fit here.
02:46:34 PM Aug 15th 2013
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Are we totally sure we can count Yukiteru in Mirai Nikki as this? Granted, he is wimpy and easily scared, prefers not to fight, and allows Yuno to hang around for his protection. However, he's actually saved her twice, from rape and death, respectively, has been shown to be capable of fighting back if he has to, and by episode 16 (the time of his breakdown and developmental badassery), he's killed the same number of diary owners as Yuno herself. Okay, not quite Chuck Norris and explosions, but compared to "can't do anything and doesn't," that's doing a lot. He seems more like an Action Survivor or a Badass on Paper than this trope.
08:13:32 AM Apr 22nd 2010
Hmm... I don't think this needs to be cut. The main distinction between this and Pinball Protagonist is that there isn't anything inherently useless about a Pinball Protagonist; he's simply overwhelmed by everything and everyone happening to him. A Useless Protagonist, even if all the events around him would calm down, still wouldn't be able to do anything.
08:38:17 AM Apr 22nd 2010
First, Nick Carroway is The Ishmael. The Ishmael is a narrative device, a different way of doing character POV, it has nothing to do with their capabilities.

Second, comparing to Pinball Protagonist: Right well for many of the example here "inherently useless" simply isn't true. Also the Pinball Protagonist is simply defined in terms of no plot instigation. "Useless"-ness is a vague, complainy quality that is actually near impossible to achieve.
10:05:06 AM Apr 22nd 2010
This appears to be conflating (or confusing) "Protagonist" and "Viewpoint Character", and calling the Viewpoint Character a "Useless Protagonist" when they aren't a protagonist at all. Cut, I think.
07:32:30 PM Apr 22nd 2010
I'm with Some Sort Of Troper: the distinction between this an Pinball Protagonist is based on Pinball Protagonist having a prerequisite (being "useful") it simply does not have.
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