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Reminder moments for characters (and sometimes the audience) that a character is disabled

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
LavonPapillon1 on Sep 20th 2017 at 8:19:15 AM
Last Edited By:
Pichu-kun on Nov 16th 2017 at 9:19:45 AM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

Many disabled individuals have lived with their handicaps for a very long time, and thus would usually develop a means of coping in a way where they appear "normal." Sometimes this applies naturally, like a blind man using all of his other senses to the point where they forget that he is blind. In most cases (and because its cool), the trope usually applies to someone who uses superpowers to compensate, like getting around with levitation in-spite being paralyzed.

Because of this, running gags and moments of awkward silence are born from the times when the characters around them are suddenly reminded that one is differently-abled.

Contrast with Ignore the Disability.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • In Daredevil, characters will frequently forget that Matt Murdock is blind, immediately apologizing afterwards for being insensitive. Though Matt always casually brushes it off while acting amused by the mistake.

    Fanfiction 
  • In Chapter 14 of Waiting is worth it, Izuku's classmates commend his win over Tenya when he used his quirk to telekinetically tie his shoelaces together. He explains to them that he learned how to do that with his own shoelaces because he could not reach them himself (being handicapped and all). This creates an awkward pause with the others.
    Ochako: Sometimes we forget that you are paralyzed.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Happy Gilmore, Happy seems to constantly forget that Chubbs has a prosthetic hand and keeps knocking or pulling it off by accident before apologizing afterwards.

    Live-Action Series 
  • This has happened to the character who is disabled in Better Call Saul. Chuck McGill, the older brother of main character Jimmy, is convinced that he has developed a painful sensitivity to all electronics and anything that uses or conducts electricity, which has turned him from one of the most prestigious and influential lawyers in the state to a rather pitiful shut-in. Although Chuck's symptoms are psychosomatic, at times he has gone into a catatonic state reminiscent of locked in syndrome. On a few occasions however, Chuck has been so distracted by other things that he has failed to react those same external stimuli and situations that otherwise cause him so much grief.
  • The occasional scene in later seasons of Grey's Anatomy which feature Arizona limping or otherwise drawing attention to her being an amputee for a short period of time — beyond this, the rest of the time she is just as effective running to crashing patients or dodging her co-workers as everyone else despite only having one leg.

    Video Games 
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: Wu Zi Mu is first met during a car race, with The Reveal that he's blind coming as a surprise to CJ. There are a few scenes where the joke is that he's blind (running into a wall or shooting randomly) and a few where other people forget about it, such as the heist planning scenes.
    Woozie: Carl? Are you pointing?

    Western Animation 
  • A Running Gag in Avatar: The Last Airbender is that the characters have a habit of forgetting that Toph is blind (she "sees" by using her extremely powerful Earth elemental abilities to sense vibrations and perceive materials) and showing her written or printed documents.
  • Family Guy does not want you to forget that Joe is "dead from the waist down".
    Peter: Kick, Joe, kick!
    Lois: Peter, he's a paraplegic!
    Peter: That doesn't mean he can't hear. Kick, Joe, kick!

Feedback: 18 replies

Sep 20th 2017 at 1:27:41 PM

You should add that Top is only blind if it's something she can't detect via earthbending, like colors or text.

  • Grand Theft Auto San Andreas: Wu Zi Mu is first met during a car race, with The Reveal that he's blind coming as a surprise to CJ. There are a few scenes where the joke is that he's blind (running into a wall or shooting randomly) and a few where other people forget about it, such as the heist planning scenes.
    Woozie: Carl? Are you pointing?

Sep 20th 2017 at 2:49:03 PM

  • Family Guy does not want you to forget that Joe is "dead from the waist down".
    Peter: Kick, Joe, kick!
    Lois: Peter, he's a paraplegic!
    Peter: That doesn't mean he can't hear. Kick, Joe, kick!

Sep 20th 2017 at 7:19:59 PM

I thought the tit;e was relating to the Standard Status Effect of Paralysis... Substitute "Disabled" for "Paralyzed"?

Sep 20th 2017 at 11:21:37 PM

  • In Daredevil, characters will frequently forget that Matt Murdock is blind, immediately apologizing afterwards for being insensitive. Though Matt always casually brushes it off while acting amused by the mistake.

Sep 22nd 2017 at 9:25:11 AM

So... Are we gonna keep "differently-abled"?

Sep 24th 2017 at 11:39:41 AM

(Pichu-kun)

I don't see a problem with it. Is there a problem with it? If that isn't okay then I could change it if you like.

Sep 24th 2017 at 6:20:07 PM

  • In Happy Gilmore, Happy seems to constantly forget that Chubbs has a prosthetic hand and keeps knocking or pulling it off by accident before apologizing afterwards.

Sep 24th 2017 at 7:14:06 PM

^^ I don't believe there's anything in the rules saying it can't be used.

Sep 29th 2017 at 5:45:02 PM

differently abled is a accepted term. no reason not to use it

Sep 29th 2017 at 9:57:59 PM

  • This has happened to the character who is disabled in Better Call Saul. Chuck McGill, the older brother of main character Jimmy, is convinced that he has developed a painful sensitivity to all electronics and anything that uses or conducts electricity, which has turned him from one of the most prestigious and influential lawyers in the state to a rather pitiful shut-in. Although Chuck's symptoms are psychosomatic, at times they have become so severe that on few occasions he has gone into a condition reminiscent of locked in syndrome. On a few occasions however, Chuck has been so distracted by other things that he has failed to react those same external stimuli and situations that otherwise cause him so much grief.

Sep 29th 2017 at 10:55:36 PM

I agree with the trope, but not with how this is written.

Speaking as a disabled person, "differently abled" is not really an accepted term among the disabled community. We prefer simply "disabled" or "disabled people". I don't see why "cripples" needs to be used at all, since it's fairly derogatory to use regarding another person.

Sep 30th 2017 at 1:47:49 AM

The occasional scene in later seasons of Greys Anatomy which feature Arizona limping or otherwise drawing attention to her being an amputee for a short period of time — beyond this, the rest of the time she is just as effective running to crashing patients or dodging her co-workers as everyone else despite only having one leg.

Sep 30th 2017 at 7:42:14 AM

"Cripple" sounds too negative, "differently abled" is way too PC imo. Other than that I got nothing against using it, since it's always better than "cripple", but it'll probably annoy a lot of disabled people. A neutral term is probably the best option. Which means, stick with "disabled".

Anyway, the Daredevil example also applies to comics.

  • A recurring element of Daredevil is other people showing Matt things or treating him as if he wasn't blind, only to remember he actually is. He always takes it casually. His radar and other hyper-developed senses are so effective for everyday tasks that he often forgets he still has to look like a normal blind person.

Oct 5th 2017 at 7:27:51 AM

Made a small edit to the article to fix a bit of markup and the wording of an example.

Oct 8th 2017 at 1:45:23 PM

The Daredevil example in the comics folder is actually the Netflix series example. You might want to put it in Live-Action Series.

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