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A measure of character development (or lack thereof)

This work is a proposed Trope, Tropers can vote and offer feedback in the comments section below.
Proposed By:
JustDoIt2011 on Jun 12th 2011 at 12:56:21 AM
Last Edited By:
JustDoIt2011 on May 16th 2018 at 8:57:40 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: Trope

Do We Have This One? Needs A Better Description

The adventure is coming to a head. The loot/treasure/ancient relic the whole journey was about is in hand. But what's this? The cave is collapsing, or the base is self-destructing, or the transdimensional beings are sucking everything in their wake into a parallel universe, and, worst of all, the loot is too damn heavy to make a successful getaway with.

Both heroes and villains can be faced with the choice of abandoning that which they have dedicated so much energy in locating, or saving the lives of themselves and others.

Seen It A Million Times, but can't think of many now.



  • In the movie The Mummy, Rick's (former) friend Beni attempts to make off with as much ancient treasure as he possibly can, even going as far as to make several trips back into the very haunted tomb. Eventually, the whole starts to come down (because of him), and, despite Rick's attempts to help him, it's too late.

  • In Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, George's greed (and possibly a sense of regret) leads to an unfortunate some sort of crazy portal to Another Dimension.

Feedback: 13 replies

Jun 12th 2011 at 9:50:45 AM

This is Death By Materialism by a side entrance. (Both your examples are on that page.)

Jun 15th 2011 at 5:58:06 AM

In the Peter Pan book, one of the pirates is only described as being famous for the number of gunshot wounds he once took before deciding to drop a bag of gold.

Jun 15th 2011 at 7:23:54 AM

I think there's still a valid trope for situations where a character who's been obsessing over a macguffin suddenly refuses to risk their lives and those of their friends for it.

  • Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade: Henry Jones, after a lifetime of seeking the Holy Grail, tells his son to leave it behind in a collapsing cave.
  • In the Aladdin Direct To Video sequel Aladdin and the Forty Thieves, the titular character's father throws away the treasure he'd been seeking after realizing his son is more important to him and regretting the danger he'd put his son in during the hunt.
  • In Wall E Eve temporarily ignores the plant that was her mission directive when the titular character is injured.

How about calling this You Are My Real Treasure, and expanding it other situations in which we learn that people are more important than things?

Jun 15th 2011 at 2:37:10 PM

^Those just sound like subversions of Death By Materialism.

Jun 15th 2011 at 9:34:24 PM

Aversions, maybe, but I think it's a distinct trope, kind of a Stock Aesop. I think I've seen another variant where a child breaks or loses an object precious to their parent, but are eventually forgiven because what they broke was replaceable, but they're not.

Jun 16th 2011 at 3:57:48 PM

^That last bit sounds like a separate trope (but a good one!) Something similar pops up constantly on Law And Order SVU: a young girl is raped and is afraid her parents will be angry that she had sex. The detectives always invoke the trope straight, but sometimes the parents subvert it! But I digress.

Jun 16th 2011 at 4:11:02 PM

Valuing The Loot as tool of showing Character Development for Laconic?

Jun 16th 2011 at 4:13:54 PM

In the Firefly episode Jaynestown, the crew visits a village that hero-worships Jayne because years before, he'd dumped a load of stolen money on the town from a shuttle. They thought he was being generous; actually, his shuttle had been damaged, and he had to throw the loot out to lighten the load.

Jun 16th 2011 at 7:11:52 PM

@jaytee - Not sure I understand what you're getting at there. What would the laconic of that trope be?

Jun 17th 2011 at 8:56:14 AM

I believe the laconic of what jaytee's getting at would be; "A child is worried that their parents will be angered by something, but they're actually more concerned (and relieved that) that the child is safe."

Or to put it another way;

Child: I did Y! This lead to X! I'm sorry!
Parent: You did Y?!

Where X is something bad, and Y is either something that put the child in sufficent danger that the parent is glad they're OK or something so impressive that the parent is too proud with them to care about X.

May 16th 2018 at 7:25:43 PM

Comic Books

  • In the last arc of Runaways Volume 2, Chase gets his hands on a working time machine and thus has an opportunity to go and prevent the death of his girlfriend Gert, but the point in time where he lands is back before the events of the original series, and thus saving her might undo the events of the entire series. In spite of how much he misses her, he takes the time machine back to rescue his friends from their latest mess.

May 16th 2018 at 8:57:40 PM

Related are robbers who are forced to drop their stolen items to escape the police easily.