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Confidence Sabotage

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A character's confidence is shaken by an event, unaware that the event was not because of his failure.

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
Eddy1215 on Jun 5th 2016 at 8:17:35 PM
Last Edited By:
Eddy1215 on Jun 10th 2018 at 11:38:08 AM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

A person who is quite confident in their profession is unknowingly sabotaged by outside parties. The saboteur was so covert that the person is unaware that their work has been tampered with, instead believing that the error is their own fault. As a result, the person, usually suffers a Heroic B.S.O.D. and feels unable to try again for risk of failing again. Often times, the truth comes out, the person's confidence is restored, and they return to their profession with a vengeance.

The causes for one to sabotage a person's confidence varies, usually for personal gain or a grudge. It may be to win in a challenge, making this trope different from Always Someone Better. It may be to discredit one's work, usually through a Disastrous Demonstration. It can even be utilized by villains to send The Hero into a 10-Minute Retirement, usually through a Frame-Up plan so elaborate, even the hero believes they are responsible for what they're being blamed for.

This trope is Truth in Television.


Examples:

Anime and Manga

  • In the episode of Pokemon: Battle Frontier in which May was going for her fifth Kanto Contest Ribbon, Harley teamed up with Team Rocket to sabotage her by using his Ariados's webbing to throw off her performance. Fortunately, Ash and Brock managed to intervene, allowing May to barely qualify. Afterwards, May was temporarily doubting herself over her apparent nerves nearly ruining her, until Ash and Brock told her it was really Team Rocket that messed with her.

Comic Books

  • In Runaways, Nico spends much of the second series doubting her leadership abilities after a string of problems besets the team, unaware that many of these problems are being caused by by the New Pride.

Films-Animated

  • In Meet the Robinsons, the first part of the Bowler Hat Guy's plan to destroy Lewis's future is sabotaging his memory scanner during the science fair. The resulting Disastrous Demonstration left Lewis doubting in his ability to invent, which was the main drive behind the film's plot.

Western Animation

  • Employed in one episode of SWAT Kats by Dark Kat to make Razor thing he injured an elderly couple with his missiles by accident to make him lose confidence in his shooting.
  • In one episode of Justice League, Green Lantern John Stewart believed he was responsible for the destruction of an entire planet thanks to an elaborate Frame-Up engineered by the Manhunters. He was so convinced that not only did he do nothing to defend himself at the trial, but when the Flash got caught up in his sentence to death, he actually told him not to protest and accept it. When the rest of the League saved him from his near execution and brought to light he was innocent, he was enraged that he nearly allowed himself to be executed for nothing.
  • Gadget from Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers once fell apart emotionally after one of her inventions, the Ranger Wheel, literally fell apart and the Rangers were almost killed as a result. She quits the Rangers as a result and joins the Cola Cult, which the Rangers were investigating. After the other Rangers try to rescue her, the episode's villain, the cult's second-in-command reveals he sabotaged the Ranger Wheel and restores her confidence.
  • Steven Universe: after the events of Ocean Gem, Greg accidentally does this to Steven, whose healing spit did mend Greg's broken leg. Greg didn't intend to sabotage Steven; he only pretended he was still injured to have more time with his son. But Steven's confidence took a big hit and his healing spit didn't work for several episodes afterwards.

Real Life

  • At the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, in the ladies' gymastics final, the pommel horse was accidentally set 5 cm too low. Until an Australian gymnast recognized the problem and asked the judges to measure, athletes would completely fail the horse event. This made them question everything they did and fail horribly on subsequent events.

Feedback: 7 replies

Jun 6th 2016 at 10:32:29 PM

Can the sabotage be unintentional? The "saboteur" might feel guilty about how his mishap has caused trouble for someone.

Jun 9th 2016 at 9:09:17 AM

Justice League: Green Lantern thought he'd destroyed a planet, and one day is brought to judgement for this crime (he doesn't even try to defend himself). The big reveal is that not only did he not kill the planet, it wasn't even destroyed.

Jun 24th 2016 at 7:26:16 PM

Western Animation

  • Gadget from Chip N Dale Rescue Rangers once fell apart emotionally after one of her inventions, the Ranger Wheel, fell apart literally. She quits the Rangers as a result and joins a cult the Rangers were investigating who are based around soda. After the other Rangers try to rescue her, the cult's second-in-command reveals he sabotaged the Ranger Wheel and restores her confidence.

Jun 26th 2016 at 1:37:23 AM

Truth In Television: At the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, in the ladies' gymastics final, the pommel horse was accidentally set 5 cm too low. Until an Australian gymnast recognized the problem and asked the judges to measure, athletes would completely fail the horse event. This made them question everything they did and fail horribly on subsequent events.

Jun 16th 2017 at 8:02:17 PM

Comic Books

  • In Runaways, Nico spends much of the second series doubting her leadership abilities after a string of problems besets the the team, unaware that many of these problems are being caused by by the New Pride.

Jun 17th 2017 at 10:50:23 PM

  • Steven Universe: after the events of Ocean Gem, Greg accidentally does this to Steven, whose healing spit did mend Greg's broken leg. Greg didn't intend to sabotage Steven; he only pretended he was still injured to have more time with his son. But Steven's confidence took a big hit and his healing spit didn't work for several episodes afterwards.

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