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Base-Breaking Character

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"Let's go Cena!"
"Cena sucks!"
— Popular chant in the WWE

A character in a series who is loved by one section of the fanbase, and hated by the rest. The causes are varied: perhaps the character appeals to a certain demographic but is a turn-off to another. Maybe they're a Plucky Comic Relief who appeals to the sense of humour of some people but falls flat with others. Sometimes they just highlight existing divisions within the fanbase, or have differing appeal across different cultures, due to different cultural viewpoints or other quirks. Either way, some fans like em, some fans don't, little in the way of a middle ground, flamewars ensue.

This can happen as a result of Shipping-related savagery, the divisions often between those who support a rival pairing or just couldn't care less.

Nearly every character ever written has fans and detractors, so fans disagreeing about whether a character is good or bad is not worth noting. In order to qualify as a true Base Breaking Character, the character must fulfill all of the following conditions:

  • Split the fanbase into at least two vocal factions of similar size. Fans who don't care about the character don't count as a faction. There must be both fans and haters, and both in similar amounts.
  • Have little to no middle ground: most of the work's fans must have a strong opinion, positive or negative, about this character. Two Vocal Minorities aren't enough to truly break a base.
  • Inspire a vicious conflict. Mentioning your love or hatred of this character should carry a strong probability of turning the discussion into a debate, if not a full-blown Flame War. If most members of the two or more factions don't care enough about the issue to argue their position, that's a sign that the conflict is not particularly vicious.
  • Have a sustained base of fans and haters. Obviously, whenever a new character is seen, or an old character does something big, fans are going to talk about it for a while. But if the discussion dies down after a few episodes, that's a sign that the character is not that divisive. A conflict should last for at least six months to qualify; any shorter and it's probably just your average fan disagreement.

See also Contested Sequel which is sometimes a result of Base Breaking Characters. Not to be confused with Broken Base.

No examples, please. Every character in any work of media is one to some extent. This page simply defines the term.

Alternative Title(s): Base Breaker