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Original Character Assertion

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An In-Universe character-author refuses to admit that their fictional characters are expys of the people around them.

This work is a proposed Trope, Tropers can vote and offer feedback in the comments section below.
Proposed By:
AndreaTx on Nov 27th 2017 at 11:39:36 AM
Last Edited By:
AndreaTx on Jun 3rd 2018 at 11:34:12 AM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

An In-Universe character-author refuses to admit that the fictional characters in the work they created are expys of the people around them.

It's difficult to create good, entertaining fiction. A common piece of advice is to write what you know. But some authors take this advice a bit too close to heart and create works that are no more than lightly fictionalized accounts of their own lives and the people around them. In real life, this might actually be entertaining if the writer has a super cool, death-defying job or has lived a very unique life, but when TV or movie characters do this, it tends to lead to farsical parodies in which the author avitar is super cool and every one around them behaves absurdly or perhaps even offensively. This leads to the author either constantly insisting all the characters are completely made up or flat-out refusing to acknowledge the parallels between the expys and their real life.

May overlap with Muse Abuse.


Examples

Fan Fiction Live-Action TV
  • Bones: Dr. Temperance "Bones" Brennan writes a book series about forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs and her FBI partner, Agent Andy Lister. She insists that the couple is not based on herself and her FBI partner/ husband, Seely Booth. The plot of her book often serves as an entertaining C-plot as her co-workers are amused and titillated by the explicit love scenes between Reichs and Lister and at one point, angered, when Bones intends to kill off Agent Lister. It's a bit of a mind screw as in real life Temperance Brennan is a fictional character created by real-life forensic anthropologist/ author, Kathy Reichs.
  • An Elementary episode revolved around finding out Watson finding out that her step-father had written a supposedly fictional book that was clearly about her and Sherlock without her permission.
  • NCIS: Under the pen name Thom E. Gemcity (an anagram), Special Agent Timothy McGee writes the mystery/crime series Deep Six featuring characters such as LJ Tibbs (his boss, Leroy Jethro Gibbs), Tommy (his coworker, Tony), Lisa (fellow agent, Ziva), Amy Sutton (lab tech, Abby Sciutto), Pimmy Jalmer (morgue tech, Jimmy Palmer), and himself as McGregor. He keeps the series secret until a suspect begins murdering people based on his unreleased manuscripts. When his coworkers taken umbrage to their in-novel characterizations, he insists that the characters are complete figments of his imaginations. His coworkers don't buy it.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: When the holographic doctor writes a holo-novel about a holographic person with his exact same job but serving in a prejudiced crew, he admits to having based the characters' appearance on the crew but refuses to say he believes they represent the actual crew, despite their similar names (e.g. the guy who looked like Tom Paris was called Lieutenant Marce.)
  • Supernatural: When Sam and Dean find out someone has been writing out exact accounts of their lives couched as fiction, they go in search of the author, Carver Edlund. They find him, real name Chuck Shurley, but he insists that he made up Sam and Dean Winchester. It turns out, he's a prophet of the Lord and has been writing their lives as it's destined to happen. He apologizes for some of the crappier novels he's written, which in reality are episodes unpopular with the fans, saying he wouldn't have written them if he knew someone had to live them.
Video Games
  • Mass Effect 3: Blasto is a multi-installment direct-to-video movie franchise based loosely on Shepard's exploits, except Commander Shepard has been replaced in the story by Blasto, a monotone, laconic Hanar. The director of the movie refuses to acknowledge that the story line is based on Shepard.
  • The Witcher 3: Dandelion writes plays based on Geralt's adventures, but tweaks them to make himself the hyper competent sidekick. He doesn't use names, but anybody who meets Geralt instantly recognizes him as Dandelion's nameless Witcher. Nevertheless, Dandelion pretends that his works are pure fiction and any similarities are pure coincidence.
Western Animation
  • Western Animation: One episode of The Simpsons lampshades this when a nanny arrives at the Simpsons' house and introduces herself as Sherry Bobbins. Homer gets as far as "Mary Po—" before Sherry assures him that she's as original as "Rickey Rouse" and "Monald Muck".

Feedback: 21 replies

Nov 27th 2017 at 12:19:04 PM

Changed title from "I bet you think this work is about you" to "Fictional you is not based on you" because of No New Stock Phrases. Open to suggestions.

Nov 27th 2017 at 1:43:59 PM

Nah. I think it should have a name that connotes a blatant lie. Like the trope should only be invoked when it's obvious the character is in denial.

Nov 27th 2017 at 9:25:00 PM

Still counts as a stock phrase, since the "you" refers to another person.

Nov 28th 2017 at 7:05:55 AM

I really like Absolutely Not An Expy, but it sounds like a better name for this trope out-of-universe, like if the writers of Supernatural refused to admit that Castiel is an expy of Constantine.

Nov 28th 2017 at 9:26:47 AM

^ and ^^: It also relies on your knowledge of what an Expy is, so not particularly clear.

Nov 28th 2017 at 2:59:16 PM

  • Star Trek Voyager: When the holographic doctor writes a holo-novel about a hologram with his job but in a prejudiced crew, he admits to having based the characters' appearance on the crew but refuses to believe they represent the crew, despite their similar names (e.g. the guy who looked like Tom Paris was called Lieutenant Marce.)

Apr 16th 2018 at 4:33:30 PM

Please, make a clear title and don't make it sound like a lie since people may think it's actually about "absolutely original characters".

I liked "Original Character Assertion".

Apr 16th 2018 at 4:39:58 PM

  • An Elementary episode revolved around finding out Watson finding out that her step-father had written a book that was clearly about her and Sherlock without her permission.

Apr 17th 2018 at 3:28:31 AM

  • Examples section
    • Added a line separating the Description and Examples section.
    • Corrected punctuation (deleted unnecessary commas).
    • Put "Mc Gee" and "Mc Gregor" each together as one word (without making them Red Links) by using null tags ([= =]).
    • De-capitalized (Morgue Tech).

Apr 17th 2018 at 11:48:03 AM

Fanfic:

Apr 19th 2018 at 12:31:55 PM

  • In one episode of The Simpsons, a nanny arrives at the Simpsons' house and introduces herself as Sherry Bobbins, Homer gets as far as "Mary Po—" before Sherry assures him that she's as original as "Rickey Rouse" and "Monald Muck".

Apr 19th 2018 at 4:48:39 PM

Suffice to say many fanfic/fan comic writers do this, but we're not going there, right?

Apr 19th 2018 at 11:11:56 PM

Well, what separates this trope from Write Who You Know is that the author insists "No, this character totally isn't based on anyone I know in real life!" So if we include Real Life authors in this trope, we're basically accusing them of lying.

Apr 19th 2018 at 11:29:18 PM

For the Supernatural example. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Chuck isn't just a prophet of the Lord, he's God himself.

Apr 20th 2018 at 6:15:02 AM

^^^LOL. Fan fic writers are by nature are borrowing characters. Like meta says, if we focus on real life people it gets into trying to decide if people are lying or not, so this trope is limited to fictional characters who happen to be authors.

^Correct, but my head might pop if we have to decide if Chuck was lying when he insisted that his book characters were his own original work since technically he's God and everything he does is original work, even ideas created by his creations. I'm choosing to go based on the fact that he is specifically trying to convince the Winchesters that these characters are not literary versions of themselves.

Apr 22nd 2018 at 8:08:37 PM

  • In the Frozen fic series Perfect Diamond World, one of Elsa's soldiers writes a book that's obviously about Elsa herself.

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