Sometimes, we hear about a character who doesn't really line up with the way they've been described, whether it be their abilities or their personality. Sometimes, though, this information all comes from a second character who is simply amazed at this character. They sing their praises, gushing their little hearts out. Okay, that's all well and good, Mister or Miss Fervent Admirer, but why are you praising them so openly?
This is what is known as Character Shilling. Whether it be an attempt to make us like the character, a way of quickly establishing that someone new is a badass a level above anything we've seen before or whatever the case may be, other people will be extremely impressed with this person and let us the viewers know about it. Whether they actually match up to the hype is optional. Sometimes they really are amazing, and sometimes we have ourselves a case of Informed Ability. Or worse, Creator's Pet.
Remember, it's only really shilling when we don't know why such praise and admiration is being given. If they've already shown they can back it up, it probably doesn't count. The Show, Don't Tell principle is often relevant.
This trope does have some useful functions. Sometimes shilling can be used to build suspense for a character who has yet to appear (or whose abilities have yet to be shown), in order to make a climactic scene where we see the truth behind all those stories all the more powerfully. Other times, it can be used to build up a character who never appears at all, either to serve as an inspiration or a foil to the main cast. Sometimes the credentials of The Rival or The Dreaded will be established through shilling, especially when their reputation (and the hero's efforts to compete with it) is more important to the story than their actual abilities. Shilling can also be used to show that the character doing it is a (distressingly) obsessive fan. And what better way to establish that someone is Famed In-Story? Alternately, if the character doesn't live up to the hype, shilling can be used to indicate we're dealing with an Unreliable Narrator or an individual that's Easily Impressed.
Compare Informed Attribute, Informed Ability and Creator's Pet, the last of which is what happens when this goes wrong and the fans just end up hating the shilled character. Also compare Respected by the Respected. May lead to Stop Worshipping Me if it's to the person's face and they're more modest. A character who shills himself in-universe may be a Fake Ultimate Hero or Miles Gloriosus. If it's a one-off shill of their own secret identity of some kind then it's ...But He Sounds Handsome.
- Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam shills former villain-turned-Anti-Hero protagonist, Char Aznable like no tomorrow about what a great, noble guy he is when his past actions in Mobile Suit Gundam shows that he's really not, as do his future ones in Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack. As well as how he's such an awesome pilot when he's spent most of the series getting hit by The Worf Effect. Even his speech at Dakar, which is supposed to be so good that it captures the attention of every Federation politician there and convinces a Titan pilot to switch sides, boils down to pointing out that even Dakarnote is undergoing desertification and that humanity needs to stop it.
- To be fair to Char, his stint as Quattro had him masquerading as someone with actual social skills (which he sorely lacks due to devoting 13 or so years to nothing but revenge), and the other characters around him tend to ignore this because, well, he's Char . He's also saddled with the Hyaku-Shiki, a failed prototype Gundam with a transformable frame which, historically in UC means it's saddled with structural issues despite the final product being unable to transform at all (If anything, it's ONLY because of his piloting skill that he isn't killed in the many skirmishes he goes into in said machine). Besides that he's a surprisingly good mentor to Kamille, and he and old rival Amuro actually get along quite well. It's only when said prodigy gets mind-raped does Char snap after realizing just how cruel the world can be and how much people like the leaders of the Federation have royally things up in order to keep their own power.
- Early The World God Only Knows shills Haqua as being amazing, but it's actually part of an obvious setup to show that despite how talented she is the only one she's fooling is Elsie. She's been unable to get any results after graduating and is pretty depressed. Eventually, she does end up deserving her reputationnote .
- In Diamond & Pearl, Cynthia does this with Paul who acts like a jerk to everyone and abuses his Pokemon in order to make them stronger, outright abandoning the ones that he finds to be a waste of time, and yet she refers to him as a "great trainer", who just clashes with Ash because of "different methods", rather than because, well, he's a jerk. Averted, however, with Pyramid King Brandon who hands Paul what is probably his first big loss in the series at that point while calling him out on his training methods.
- Ash himself becomes a recipient of this in the XY series. Lots of characters (from minor ones to the gym leaders, and two champions) have the utmost respect for him, and he gets Hero Worship from his band of friendsnote . He is Always Someone Better to all his region rivals, and even the one who Ash eventually loses to in the League Finals unquestionably follows Ash's lead throughout the entire Kalos Crisis afterwards, and in the end contemplates that, between the two of them, Ash is the better trainer. This all in spite of still being Book Dumb (though now downplayed). Partly justified in that the XY series was probably Ash's most succesful bout as a trainer, and considering how much of a Butt-Monkey he was in the Best Wishes era many fans consider this one a case of Tropes Are Not Bad.
- Inami from WORKING!! gets this from most of the cast whenever the spotlight is on her (and that's often), with the most coming from Poplar, who won't shut up on how cute Inami is. Though for most people, she's much cuter. Presumably, they're trying to make Takahashi, the guy Inami likes, think better of her, but they still overdo it a little. Even the Romantic False Lead spends more time praising Inami than looking for his Long Lost Sibling.
- Thoma, the main character of Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force, was fairly bland in the first few chapters, up until it was revealed that he was the not-yet-adopted little brother of Subaru, a far more popular character. While it's shown how they met, it doesn't quite show how they became so close, and the two don't even interact for a long while. It's just to say 'hey, Subaru likes him!' to the reader. It gets more obvious later on, when it's shown that other characters like Nanoha know and like him too, which happened entirely off-screen.
- He's also billed as a character who uses a unique fighting style and he has a lot of potential. Yet of all the times we see him fight, he was just swinging his Divider. There's apparently also something special inside him that the Anti-Magic using villains take their time in trying to recruit him.
- Inazuma Eleven actually managed to subvert this one. When the team first set out to find and meet Fubuki, several characters start discussing rumors about what an amazingly strong and talented person he is, some of which are so over the top (such as "Fubuki the bear-killer") that they're likely parodying this trope. Everyone is quite surprised when they actually meet him and he's nothing like what they expected.
Fubuki: Oh, are you disappointed after seeing the real thing?
- Played with (and possibly parodied) in the El-Hazard: The Magnificent World OAV. Princess Fatora is highly praised by nearly every character who talks about her. When we finally meet her, though, one wonders why she was really missed at all.
- 7 Seeds has several characters comment about Hana. While she is certainly ready to take action in the wilderness or explore more easily than most of the other characters, this is justified by her having been raised in a way to survive in the wilderness. But then there are characters who admire her for her strength, her desire to work hard when she isn't feeling well herself, despite this actually being more of a flaw but not treated as one. This got particularly bad when Ango and Ryo, both who clashed horribly with her, praise her stubborn behavior, despite this being the reason why the three of them clashed so much.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny Heine Westenfluss is set up as an ace pilot like Athrun as well as charming and a really nice guy. Unfortunately, he doesn't get a chance to live up to his extreme reputation since he dies too soon. The fact that he spends most of his screentime lecturing Athrun about how he should just ignore his doubts and do his job doesn't help.
- He's more of a foil to Athrun given his short role.
- The chunin exam arc really tries to make Sasuke out to be way more powerful than how he is actually being presented in the story. Going into the arc, the only major battle he has had was against Haku in which he had to get bailed out by Naruto. He even loses a fight to Naruto outright as early as episode 3 of the anime (although in this case, it can be argued that Naruto had the element of surprise on his side). Despite this, the chunin arc starts out with him being acknowledged as a rival by Gaara, the main antagonist of this arc whose powers are presented as something far more threatening than what Sasuke should ever be able to match at this point of the series. After this, Sasuke promptly gets his ass handed to him by Rock Lee, yet somehow all the other kids at the exam are seeing him as one of the biggest threats, including Rock Lee himself. Apart from his fire ball jutsu (which never does anything to anyone), all he has is the sharingan he has just awakened, which at this point of the series doesn't actually do anything except for allowing him to read his opponents moves. He only manages to beat the sound ninja because of the cursed seal, which is said to have been sealed away by Kakashi by the time he goes up against Gaara, which yet again means that in the eyes of the viewers/readers he should have no chance to ever win in this fight. Despite this, the anticipation of the fight between the "Uchiha genius and that sand kid" is apparently such a big deal that this fight alone was what attracted the audience to watch the exam in the first place, and the match is postponed when Sasuke doesn't show up in time so as to not cause a riot.
- Sakura is this through most of Shippuden (the most glaring being the Kazekage Rescue Arc and the Tenchi Bridge Arc) with her "newfound healing abilities and fighting style." The former sure, but not the latter. She either lost or was coddled during all of her fights outside of filler arcs and even came close to death early on, even though she hardly pulled her weight.
- Ever since the truth of his actions was made known, many characters have been heaping praise on Itachi. Whether or not he deserves it is heavily debatable (he did horrible things in the name of defending his home and maintaining peace). It usually isn't too bad, but it gets weird when even the freaking First Hokage says that Itachi is a better shinobi than he is, and the Third Hokage says that he had Kage-level wisdom at the age of seven. Even Sasuke and Naruto, whose lives have been made significantly worse by his actions, shill the guy like nobody's business. Ironically, one of the few people who don't shill him is Itachi himself, thanks to being revived as an Edo Tensei Zombie and seeing the consequences of his actions firsthand.
- During the Ten-tails-arc, many characters went out of their way to express how awesome Sakura became, and how she finally caught up to Sasuke and Naruto. While she got to make an memorable showcase of her powers, it doesn't last long before she's easily beaten by a villain or thrown back into the background, and it really wasn't any more impressive than what other members of the Konoha 12 had shown—all of whom were completely ignored by those characters.
- Also after Kaguya kills Obito, Naruto screams at her that he was "the coolest". Keep in mind that Obito was partially responsible for a vast majority of the mess that happened in the manga - especially Naruto's parents' and Neji's deaths - and only put a HeelFace Turn a few minutes ago. Granted, in that time he did save Naruto's life, helped give him a Shounen Upgrade, and died sacrificing himself to save Naruto and Kakashi, but calling him "the coolest" might have been stretching the truth a little bit.
- A number of powerful wizards in Fairy Tail do live up to their hype. Particularly the ones who are given the title of Wizard Saint, or are the rarely seen allies of the main guild. However, most of the one-off villains are given quick hype to make them seem more threatening, and generally it's only the Arc Villain who manages to match whatever the other characters claim about their power.
- The Devil Is a Part-Timer!: This trope is the reason why Chiho Sasaki is such a divisive character among fans. The story often goes on about how sweet and kind she is, even to the point of blatantly lying about her personality or bending the story around her. For example, she gets jealous of Acies at one point and the story says this is highly unusual for her and only because of how clingy the other girl is being, but anyone who has paid attention up to this point knows that Chiho is extremely jealous of anyone she perceives as a rival, most notably Emi.
- This was one of the reasons why Ryo in Digimon Tamers was so disliked outside of Japan. When he enters Tamers, the other characters instantly know him despite that he had never appeared (in that series) before, and there's a notable part wherein Kazu and Kenta fanboy over him and talk about how legendary and amazing he is.
- Pretty much any new character with a new and marketable Deck in Yu-Gi-Oh! gets talked up as being a master strategist and a wielder of unstoppable cards, even if their actual strategy is bog-standard and their cards are nothing new. V/Quinton in Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL is a good example; he's built up as the guy who taught main character Kaito everything he knows, a guy who gets a Minor Injury Overreaction to damage because he's normally untouchable, and the narrative treats him as the strongest of the Arclight brothers. Over the course of all three of his duels, his strategy consisted of summoning Dyson Sphere and then sitting on it until the opponent found a way to defeat him. It's mildly impressive that he can bring it out so quickly, and it's a reasonably strong card, but it's nowhere near what his brothers were capable of. The Neo-Spacians in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX also get chatted up for their unique "Contact Fusion" ability by everyone, but Contact Fusion wasn't a new concept (indeed, several characters had used the VWXYZ line, which is functionally the same thing), and the Neo-Spacian application of it was, if anything, one of the worst executions of it.
- This could also apply to Yugi himself. He's ostensibly a master gamer but frequently loses games in the early manga so that Yami Yugi/Atem can come out and take care of them, plays maybe two major duels by himself in the whole series and without the benefit of all the practice Jonouchi has had in tournaments, somehow manages to defeat Yami Yugi/Atem by the end of the series. He's also played up as being courageous in the English dub and while his heroism is more prevalent than his duelling, he's still less active as a character than Jonouchi and takes less responsibilities on his shoulders than Atem. He's presented as part of an equal team with Atem, moreso in the anime, but frequently vanishes offscreen for whole duels at a time. This is zigzagged in Darkside of Dimensions, when he's duelling solo for the first time and taking responsibility for rescuing others, but still needs Atem's help to defeat a supernatural threat and hasn't taken up his mantle in any other significant way.
- Invoked in Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid: Kanna's Daily Life. Kanna often gets favors out of Lucoa by promising to say nice things about her to Shouta.
- Happens In-Universe in Dragon Ball Super: the heroes of Universe 11 endlessly praise Jiren as the greatest, coolest, most powerful hero ever to exist. The Irony is that theyre shilling is half correct; Jiren really is that outrageously strong (in fact, hes one of the most powerful beings in the entire Dragon Ball universe), but hes not the All-Loving Hero they think he is. Hes really an Anti-Hero who does heroic things, but is also extremely cold and rude towards others when off the clock, and sees his fellow Pride Troopers as little more than tools to help him achieve his goals.
- The narrator of Killing Bites would like you to know that because the honey badger is the most badass animal in the world, Hitomi is also the most badass Brute in the world. Sure, the honey badger is an incredibly fearsome animal, but the way the narrator shills it, you would think it could take on God himself and then some.
- In Danganronpa 3, the class of Super Danganronpa 2 constantly go on and on about how great Chiaki is and get very little to do for much of Side:Despair she even gets made class president because of how apparently amazingly kind and selfless she is, whereas similar acts by other characters get nowhere near the same amount of praise.
- Green Lantern:
- Kyle Rayner was shilled almost by necessity; comic fans were never going to receive him very well, partly because he was replacing Hal Jordan as Green Lantern, and partly because they had seen how Superman's death and Azrael becoming Batman turned out to be temporary — DC needed to make sure that Kyle stuck around. They did this by having a range of superheroes from Martian Manhunter to Superman to Batman to The Sandman say, without solicitation, what a terrific guy he is. This only led to eye-rolling among even the fans who liked him. In the end, Grant Morrison refused to give Kyle the same treatment in Justice League of America, where he was a rookie whom not everyone trusted (particularly The Flash and Batman, the latter of whom took twelve issues to even speak to Kyle) — this was sufficient Character Development that he was considered Rescued from the Scrappy Heap.
- Then it came full circle when Geoff Johns brought Hal back to be Green Lantern in Green Lantern: Rebirth, and every other hero couldn't stop talking about how brave, selfless, and supportive Hal was (while glossing over the events of Zero Hour! and all the other Green Lanterns he killed). The only character who ever called Hal out on his past actions is Batman, who's portrayed as bitter and paranoid for it (and gets chewed out by John Stewart).
- The Flash: Writer Geoff Johns did this to Barry Allen in several directions when he came Back from the Dead. Jay Garrick, the original Flash, shilled his replacement Barry by saying that "Barry made him the Flash", despite fighting crime decades before Barry started. The explanation was pretty weird and just raised more questions — he meant that seeing Barry as the Flash convinced him to come out of retirement, but this contradicts the events of the story where that happened. Barry's successor Wally West also shilled him as an inspiration to him when he was a kid (which contradicts scenes where young Wally considered the Flash much much cooler than Barry Allen and couldn't understand why Iris was dating Barry and not the Flash). Johns defending the shilling by saying it was necessary to avoid Barry being seen as a Replacement Scrappy for Wally (even though he was the Flash before Wally, and even readers who didn't remember that would probably know that).
- Post-Crisis, Lois Lane gets a lot of free shilling from most characters having anything to do with her, praising Clark Kent for having such a wonderful wife.
- Spider-Man: Peter's one-time love interest Carlie Cooper was heavily shilled, mostly to get readers to accept her over Peter's more memorable love interests Gwen and Mary Jane. One big problem was that this was after One More Day, in which Peter's marriage to Mary Jane gets magically erased so that Peter could be single again (and that Carlie's named after the writer's daughter). An implausible number of people would go on about not just how perfect she is for Peter, but how perfect she is in general. Mary Jane shilled her. Black Cat shilled her. Gwen, despite being dead, shilled her in flashback, having been retconned into Carlie's best friend. That really didn't endear her to the readers.
- Justice League of America has a couple of interesting variants:
- When Faith was added during the "Age of Obsidian" arc, she was a complete unknown who was immediately and inexplicably shilled by other characters as being an awesome and powerful person. But this rapid acceptance was justified with the revelation that she has the subconscious ability to inspire trust in others.
- Minor character Aztek jumped to the League when his own series was prematurely cancelled. The other characters shilled him immediately, telling him that he earned his place in the League. The problem is that Aztek doesn't know how he did that; Grant Morrison was just playing around with his Creator's Pet. Then Morrison got bored with the shilling and killed Aztek off.
- The Sentry's entire character was based on this; supposedly, he was an amazing hero who debuted in the Silver Age and did a lot of really awesome things before being erased by Cosmic Retcon. This was pretty clever in his original miniseries, but his addition to the mainstream comics ended up running the joke so thin it wasn't even a joke anymore. Even when he finally kicked the bucket (to much fan rejoicing), everyone in the Marvel Universe showed up to his funeral to talk about how he'd always been there for them and he was a really great guy, nervously skirting around all the times he was useless, whiny, and homicidal.
- Captain America is one of the few characters who can (usually) get away with this without audiences rolling their eyes. His entire character relies on being a pure-hearted inspiration to others; that's why he was chosen to be the first Super Soldier. He also got famous during World War II by fighting the Nazis and apparently dying in a Heroic Sacrifice, which bolstered his reputation among other heroes. It's only natural that they'd be a little awestruck when the man himself turns up.
- JLA: Act of God shills Batman by having all the de-powered superheroes gush about how awesome he is for having always been a Badass Normal (when he's far from the only one in the League). Batman, for his part, is an arrogant jerk who seems only to help the de-powered heroes because they're telling him how awesome he is.
- Bullseye, a reasonably popular but firmly street-level baddie, was subject to an awkward period when Marvel Comics tried to promote him as their answer to The Joker. In nearly every appearance, characters would shill Bullseye as an unstoppable murderous psychopath — despite the fact that he's not particularly intelligent, nor is he much more dangerous than any guy with a gun. He joins the Dark Avengers, where he's treated as The Dreaded (despite his teammates being a walking nuclear reactor, a cannibalistic alien parasite, and a deranged Physical God). Marvel eventually gave up and turned off the Plot Armor, leaving Bullseye blind, disabled, and Put on a Bus for the foreseeable future.
- Doctor Doom is often shilled as a genius and the savior of mankind, but rarely by the right people — at one point, a Wakandan deity once proclaimed that the only peaceful future is one with Doom as the dictator, but there's some serious Blue and Orange Morality at work. In any event, the character who shills Doom the most is usually Doom himself.
- Riri Williams receives mounds of this in her first proper issue taking over from Tony Stark as Ironheart. Barely a scene will pass without a big-name character praising her intelligence, S.H.I.E.L.D. holds a special meeting to talk about how wonderful she is, and Tony Stark himself even gets in on the act, despite heaping praise on others being very out-of-character for him.
- Hawkman is a fairly frequent recipient, as a longtime member of two prominent and powerful hero teams while also being in an unfortunate place power-wise — he's a Flying Brick with the strength of a Badass Normal, resulting in him lacking the brute force of most of the former and the technology and intellect of most of the latter, along with lacking specialized skills that could contrive situations where he can be the only one to save the day. Consequently, he's usually shilled when people wonder why the heck he's on the team to begin with — they call him an excellent leader (who never displays this and is usually a Jerk Ass) with centuries of battle experience (which he mostly uses to fly straight in and bludgeon people with his mace). The peak is probably Justice League: Cry for Justice, where Prometheus, having taken down half the team and armed with a gun, faces Hawkman and monologues about how Hawkman is the most dangerous opponent he's faced because he's unpredictable and pissed off — and he's also not Immune to Bullets (and not wearing a shirt).
- Superman is another of the few characters whose shilling is deserved. He's the Big Good of the DCU, a Nice Guy, and incredibly powerful, so it's no wonder he's so successful and charismatic. He's also a Humble Hero and goes to great lengths to ensure that the general populace, who would otherwise be inclined to mistrust someone so powerful, can trust him.
- Ms. Marvel, after becoming Captain Marvel (and getting a new Superman-esque) costume, was suddenly treated as the Marvel Universe's greatest female superhero. This rang hollow for many fans, as she was a second-stringer at best for most of her existence. They also saw how obvious it was that Marvel Comics was hyping her for her appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where Marvel couldn't use some of its actual most powerful female superheroes (like Jean Grey, Storm, or the Invisible Woman) because they don't have their film rights. This has led to the nickname "Marvel's Roman Reigns".
- The first few books of The Last Son are infamous for this treatment of Superman and his love interest Alison Blaire, a.k.a. Alia Ka-Lir. Superman, being the single most powerful entity on the planet, deserves people shilling his power — but not his oratory, which is hailed as brilliant despite consisting mostly of preachy moral lectures. His love interest, meanwhile, is given bucketloads of Informed Attributes, and everyone (except the villains and the resident Alpha Bitches) loves her despite not really having a reason to. This treatment is considered a black mark on an otherwise well-conceived story.
- In Xantrax-42's Precure Meet The Dream Traveler series:
- The canon characters heap endless praise on both of his OCs. It's most blatant in chapter two of Smile Precure meet the Dream Traveler, where Blaze comes in, saves the Pretty Cure, and defeats three blue-nosed Akanbes without using Rainbow Healing (which is required in canon). The Cures and the narrative insist he's the greatest thing ever to grace Pretty Cure fandom with words like "So cool!" and remarking how he's fighting all by himself, when most readers regard him as a boring and obnoxious God-Mode Sue.
- It gets taken Up to Eleven in the sequels, especially with the introduction of Shadow Akechi in the Doki Doki series. No matter what atrocities or abuse Shadow heaps on others, everyone says he's the best thing ever. The worst occurs when, in one of the final chapters, Shadow is mercilessly beating twelve-year-old Regina nearly to death, and Cure Heart smiles and watches while saying Shadow is amazing because he can channel rage and hatred into such awesome power.
- In John Wick, Viggo gives a three-minute speech to Iosef about John that boils down to, "That man you pissed off is the biggest badass in the room." John confirms it himself in the very next scene, when a dozen hitmen invade his house only for him to massacre them all without breaking a sweat. This helps establish John's status as The Dreaded among the criminal underworld.
- Justice League (2017): Many characters give this treatment to Superman after his death in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, particularly Batman and Wonder Woman, who gush over how he was a paragon of hope to the world and with his death, the world has become a darker place. It's a bit weird how it was done — the comic book Superman absolutely deserves this kind of talk, but his film incarnation's behavior in the first two movies wasn't so praiseworthy. It's theorized that the filmmakers felt a strong need to rehabilitate Superman's image this way, particularly because Batman has to want to resurrect him.
- The Marvel Cinematic Universe hyped up Thanos long before his appearance in Avengers: Infinity War. Thanos is the universe's Greater-Scope Villain, the Ultimate Evil dreaded across the universe, so when he's mentioned, it's basically to illustrate how the threat that the heroes just struggled to stop is nothing compared to Thanos. For seven years, all we saw of him was a purple guy sitting on his throne talking smack. But when he finally showed up for real, he absolutely lived up to the hype — in the first ten minutes of Infinity War, he beats Hulk so easily, the green guy refuses to come out for the rest of the movie.
- Mean Girls uses this to establish Regina George as a feared and revered Alpha Bitch before we even meet her:
Janis Ian: Regina George... how do I begin to explain Regina George?
Emma Gerber: Regina George is flawless.
Lea Edwards: She has two Fendi purses and a silver Lexus.
Tim Pak: I hear her hair's insured for ten thousand dollars.
Amber D'Alessio: I hear she does car commercials — in Japan.
Kristen Hadley: Her favorite movie is Varsity Blues.
Short Girl: One time she met John Stamos on a plane...
Jessica Lopez: ..and he told her she was pretty.
Bethany Byrd: One time she punched me in the face... it was awesome!
- Mercilessly parodied in Monty Python and the Holy Grail by Sir Robin's minstrel, who keeps gushing in song about "brave Sir Robin" despite Sir Robin's repeated commands to shut up, as he's trying to avoid picking a fight. The minstrel goes on gushing about it even after Sir Robin has fled in abject cowardice:
Minstrel: Brave Sir Robin ran away, (Sir Robin: No!)
Bravely ran away, away! (I didn't!)
When danger reared its ugly head,
He bravely turned his tail and fled. (No!)
Yes, brave Sir Robin turned about, (I didn't!)
And gallantly he chickened out.
Bravely taking to his feet, (I never did!)
He beat a very brave retreat. (All lies!)
Oh, bravest of the braaave, Sir Robin! (I never!)
- One criticism of Pearl Harbor is the way that many characters gush over Rafe's skill as a pilot. From what we see, Rafe isn't much better than his best friend who sings his praises the whole movie. He's made out to be a noble hero by everyone, including Jimmy Doolittle and an RAF Pilot who tells him that if there are others like him where Rafe comes from then, by God, America will kick the world's ass. It makes you wonder why Randall Wallace didn't stretch the movie by another hour so Rafe could join up with the Flying Tigers and the likes of Claire Chennault and Ed Rector could gush over him some more.
- The Room:
- Lisa is consistently described as being incredibly beautiful. Her actress isn't ugly, mind you, but it comes off as somewhat over-the-top for someone who would be Hollywood Homely in a more mainstream film.
- Protagonist Johnny is extremely successful at his job and is constantly described as a paragon of compassion and selflessness who is entirely undeserving of Lisa's treatment of him. It may not be a coincidence that Johnny is played by the film's writer/producer/director.
- In The Usual Suspects, Keyser Soze is constantly described as a fearsome gangster who may or may not have set up the protagonists for a gruesome and inevitable death. Fridge Brilliance hits when you realize that Soze's been doing most of the shilling himself.
- X-Men: Apocalypse goes to great lengths to show how much of a hero Mystique is, particularly how she saved the President and showed the public that mutants aren't evil in the previous film. Schools teach about her, and many other mutants consider her an inspiration — Storm idolizes her, and Quicksilver claims she changed his life (although apparently with a ten-year delay, during which he mooched off his mother like he did before). The main problem with this is that all she really did was be in the right place at the right time — she only saved the President because she was trying to kill one of his advisors, most of the events of the previous film were her fault to some degree, and she's generally not a pleasant or trustworthy person.
- Left Behind:
- This is more or less the only way that the two main characters Buck and Rayford ever interact with non-main characters. Scores of unnamed friends and co-workers gush about how awesome they are, and they themselves think about how special they are and what a privilege it is to be around them. The authors failed to Show, Don't Tell — they wanted these characters to be awesome, but they only told us how awesome they were without showing it in action. Buck in particular pairs it with a bad case of an Informed Attribute — he's supposed to be a legendarily incorruptible reporter, but over the course of the series we've seen him bury multiple major stories in exchange for protection from — and a job with — the group he would have exposed.
- Nicolae Carpathia is constantly described in narration as a "genius" with "complete charm". In particular, he's described as a great orator, when his most famous speech in the series (which is hailed as brilliant and gets a standing ovation) consists basically of naming every country in the United Nations in alphabetical order. He is The Antichrist and might have super persuasion skills, but this never stated explicitly.
- Parodied in the first two Discworld novels: Rincewind is the most incompetent and cowardly wizard on the Disc, even to the point that he can't spell "wizard" right. His companion Twoflower, however, thinks he's the mightiest magician who ever lived. This really gets on Rincewind's nerves, especially when Twoflower's going on about what a mighty warrior he is, and all he really wants to do is run far, far away.
- S.D. Perry's novelizations of the Resident Evil series go to extraordinary lengths to sell readers on how smart, brave, tough, smart, gifted, smart, and really, really smart Rebecca Chambers is, despite her scientific knowledge never rising above that expected from anyone who paid attention in junior-high chemistry. Every sympathetic character, even the protagonists from the actual games, gets at least one inner monologue describing how fiercely independent, resourceful, and intelligent she is, and she becomes the star of two original novels where she basically saves the world singlehandedly while riding atop a massive, cresting wave of adulation from the other characters. (These books were written before the 2002 REmake changed Rebecca's characterization into that of a well-grounded and very stressed-out young woman in way over her head, so Perry's only source of inspiration for her genius version was the obliviously cheerful dingbat from the 1996 original).
- All of the main cast in Twilight gets this treatment. We're told how wonderful Edward and the Cullens are, but their actions and behavior throughout the series suggest anything but. Bella herself is constantly described as amazing and special, without really doing anything to deserve it.
- Eragon of the Inheritance Cycle gets plenty of this. Several of his accomplishments are frequently praised by the other characters, even though most aren't extraordinary compared to what others have done. This is most evident regarding Eragon's skill with words, despite the fact he supposedly has terrible grammar and no practice at writing or giving speeches. He's also praised as a great and wonderful hero despite doing several selfish or un-heroic acts, including choosing to hang out with his friends and ignoring a man who asked Eragon to heal his dying wife.
- Miss Pross' brother, Solomon, in A Tale of Two Cities: Through most of the novel, all we "know" about him is that his sister sings his praises at the slightest provocation (or often none at all), and in particular that she considers him the only man on earth worthy of marrying Lucie. When we do finally meet him, he's utterly devoid of redeeming qualities.
- In the final book of The Wheel of Time, Elayne is chosen to be in charge of the armies of light. She was the perfect choice, a wonderful leader, and did a great job. We know this not because we see any examples of her leadership, but because at least once a chapter someone comes up to her and tells her what a wonderful leader she is and how glad they are that she was chosen to be in charge.
- Count how many times someone in The Sword of Truth talks about how "there aren't many people like Richard" or "Richard is a very rare person" or "Richard was the most (fill in the blank: compassionate, humble, brilliant, gentle, kind, brave) man (he/she) had ever met." You'll be over a hundred by the time you finish the first book. It's debatable whether Richard actually displays any of those qualities.
- In The Hunger Games, Katniss' narration does this to her father and sister, and Peeta to a lesser extent. Her father died years ago and she only remembers him as a saint, forgetting or ignoring his bad qualities. She adores her baby sister, is very protective of her, and can't imagine anyone not loving her. As for Peeta, her opinion of him shows subtle clues that she's falling in love with him, but unlike the other two, other characters shill him as well.
- Taken Up to Eleven with Zoey Redbird in The House of Night. Nyx chose her because she is supposedly wise beyond her years, is a fount of empathy and compassion, and is well versed in both the old ways and the modern world. She has an instant fanclub of people that serve mainly to ooh and ahh over how wonderful she is, men fall at her feet in droves because of how beautiful and awesome she supposedly is, and she gets new tattoos and praise for her bravery from Nyx anytime she takes care of whatever problem is plaguing her that particular book. Actually reading the book shows us that she's a stupid, shallow, judgmental, hypocrite that doesn't do much of anything except bemoan her boyfriend problems until the authors decide that something needs to happen so the book can end.
- In The Fault in Our Stars, Hazel's description of Augustus Waters, from the very first time she meets him, is pretty glowing, focusing on his good looks, charisma, and the connection they have in conversation, compared to her descriptions of other people (which tend to be affectionate, but don't gloss over flaws). This ends up fading away as she gets to know him, even though she falls in love with him (and he with her) she gets to see his flaws in greater detail.
- In Warrior Cats, mostly in material written by Vicky Holmes, Ashfur and Hollyleaf tend to be characterized as good and noble cats in tragic circumstances they couldn't help, playing down their crimes and motivations for committing them.
- Ashfur is described as a "good mentor" to Lionblaze in the Ultimate Guide, which is debatable since they didn't get along at all - they even fought each other once - and he also possibly taught Lionblaze some moves incorrectly (at least Lionblaze thought so and accused him of it). More than once Ashfur's attempted murders of the father and three kits of the she-cat who rejected him is handwaved as "his only fault was to love too much" (including in a scene where he made it to the cats' equivalent of heaven).
- Hollyleaf's behavior was whitewashed at least once (in the Ultimate Guide): her murder of Ashfur was described as an accident where she didn't mean to fatally wound him, he fell into the stream himself, her self-imposed exile from the Clan was due to guilt, and her motivations were basically fear and being overwhelmed by the secret. In the book where it actually happened, her brother saw in her memories that she intentionally tried to kill Ashfur, she even stated that she threw his body in the stream to hide it, she ran from the Clan because they wouldn't view the murder as her doing "the right thing", and her motivations were more along the lines of Knight Templar/Black and White Insanity.
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
- One of the initial reasons comic fans reacted poorly to the show was because of the writers' insistence on constantly comparing Grant Ward, a Canon Foreigner, to Black Widow, an actual Avenger from the comics and movie. It got to the height of absurdity when it was stated that Ward was more adept at trickery and undercover work than Widow, who in the past has managed to outsmart the God of lies and trickery himself. Though it becomes somewhat Justified in hindsight, since this provided the first clue to the series' outcome: Ward was in fact The Mole and Evil All Along without anyone within S.H.I.E.L.D. being aware of this fact, meaning he really was that good as a double agent, if not within his original role.
- Skye took a lot of flak, largely because nearly everyone else on the team was head-over-heels in love with her by the second episode, despite knowing she was an anti-S.H.I.E.L.D. hacker who hadn't yet done much to prove her new loyalties. Coulson already saw her as a substitute daughter, Ward and Fitz both had crushes on her, and Simmons had formed a sisterly friendship with her. Only May ever expressed any real doubts about letting her work with them. Even when she betrayed the team for her ex-boyfriend and fellow hacktivist early on, everyone got over it within a couple of episodes. Luckily, the writers managed to reel it back in enough to even give it a bit of a Fandom Nod later in the series, when Skye's legal name at the orphanage where she was raised was "Mary Sue Poots".
- Ironically, the other three Canon Foreigners in the main cast, all of whom were deliberately set up to possess Living Legend status within S.H.I.E.L.D. — May and Fitz-Simmons — weren't the subjects of much shilling at all, and as such were generally much better received by fans than Ward or Skye, especially to begin with. May in particular is treated well, because she herself doesn't like to talk about why she's The Dreaded and we only know how good she is because her enemies are terrified of her.
- American Idol has often made a habit of this, with the judges often going on about how awesome some contestants were regardless of public opinion. It was most infamous with Season 11 contender Phillip Phillips; despite having little vocal range and repetitive performances, the judges relentlessly praised the heck out of him and he won the season.
- America's Got Talent also has a tendency to shill its contestants. 12-year-old Grace Vanderwaal was shilled repeatedly by all four of the judges no matter what, though her voice sounded like she was going through puberty at the time of the season's run and most of her performances were somewhat repetitive. She went on to win the season, and is considered to be somewhat of a Creator's Pet. The next season, Angelica Hale got this so much that you could make a Drinking Game out of it.
- Laurel Lance, particularly in early seasons. Oliver, Quentin, and Tommy all gush about how selfless and noble she is, when she's generally selfish, vindictive, butts heads with everyone (especially Oliver), and more than once almost gets him arrested. She spends most of Season 1 getting damselled, most of Season 2 descending into drugs and alcohol, and most of Season 3 hiding her sister's death from her father. She eventually gets set straight and Took a Level in Kindness, but she still gets shilled on occasion.
- Felicity is similarly shilled, especially after Laurel was Rescued from the Scrappy Heap. Not only was she not selfless like everyone said, she became such a Creator's Pet that even the villains were praising her. In particular, everybody feels the need to show how she's "perfect" for Oliver, and even Laurel devotes her death scene to proclaiming Felicity Oliver's true love. The shilling migrated over to The Flash, with everyone there gushing about her no matter how tangentially they know her, and even Thawne gratuitously calling her "a great woman".
- Babylon 5: A Lower-Deck Episode in its last season featured a couple of maintenance workers who end up praising new character Captain Lochley and telling her that she was all right in their book. Apparently, both of the two "little guys" were openly Author Avatars.
- Bones: In the sixth season, Hannah Burley is constantly shilled as beautiful, talented, and intelligent, when she's about as interesting as a raw vegetable. Most awkwardly, the characters insist on calling Hannah and Brennan "friends", when every scene depicting their "friendship" is awkward at best.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In seasons four and five, Buffy's boyfriend Riley Finn got a lot of character shilling (partly because the writers knew they had to distinguish him from her previous boyfriend Angel). One episode in particular had the couple break up, only for Xander to admonish Buffy by telling her how awesome he was, which only made the problem worse.
- Charmed: The Charmed Ones in later seasons are explicitly shilled by other characters, who often make mention of their selflessness — even though by then, they've forsaken their own destiny so they could focus on their own lives. The only times they're called on it, it's by explicitly evil characters. Coincidentally, this started happening when two of the three leads became executive producers.
- Criminal Minds did this a couple of times:
- Jason Gideon was being shilled as early as the pilot (to the obvious annoyance of Morgan and Hotch). He left the show two seasons later, but his replacement David Rossi was similarly talked up, and Alex Blake later had the same thing happen to her. In all cases, we never saw what made them so good at their jobs.
- Ashley Seaver was talked up as having exceptional academy scores, only to be shown making bad decisions in the field and having a tendency to state the obvious.
- This happens quite a bit to Mia during Season 8, much to Holly J's (and many fans') annoyance. The character was seen by many as being unrealistic, but the showrunners kept trying to portray her as amazing. One episode focusing on another character's attempts to woo her was even titled "Uptown Girl" after the Billy Joel songnote , as if to remind the audience how obviously desirable and amazing Mia supposedly was.
- In "Degrassi Takes Manhattan", Jay shills Emma by telling Spinner that she wouldn't screw him over like Jane did (like Emma never cheated on anybody before). It's especially pexplexing that Jay would talk Emma up like this, because a few years ago, she prostituted herself to him. For rubber bracelets.
- Doctor Who:
- The Doctor refers to K-9 as his "best friend", but he never really deserves this, especially considering that the Doctor has known Leela longer and seems to like her more. Fans saw this as a cheap way to introduce a mascot to the show. (They were particularly burned because the first time the Doctor ever had a "best friend", it was a really big deal, and it was in reference to Sarah Jane, who definitely did deserve the title).
- The Daleks needed some shilling in their first appearance in the new series, as they had undergone some serious Badass Decay over the years. This was fixed partly by removing their Weaksauce Weaknesses (like their useless plungers or their inability to use stairs) and partly by showing that the Doctor despises them and treats them like one of the most dangerous races in the universe.
The Doctor: If the Dalek gets out, it'll murder every living thing. That's all it needs.
Van Statten: But why would it do that?
The Doctor: Because it honestly believes they should die. Human beings are different, and anything different is wrong. It's the ultimate in racial cleansing, and you, van Statten, you've let it loose!
- Rose Tyler is often seen this way. The Doctor and Captain Jack would gush about how special she was, while many fans thought there was little evidence of this (and a few considered her a Canon Sue). It got even worse after she left, as the Doctor would hype her up to his next companion Martha, who was left feeling she could never live up to her (and Rose had to come back anyway to help save the universe).
- Clara Oswald is treated like the Doctor's single most important companion. Most of this has to do with where the story thrust her, rather than any exceptional abilities compared to other companions. The show started to treat it like an incredible accomplishment that she wouldn't twist her ankle and turn useless (it had been forever since a companion did that anyway). The Doctor grew extremely protective of her and close to her, even though she didn't deserve this more than some other companions, leading to him becoming a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds after she's Killed Off for Real in a Senseless Sacrifice (which is admittedly something that doesn't happen very often with his companions). Some of this is mitigated by the Doctor's decision to undergo a painful procedure to wipe his memory of her, which at least shows he's learned not to mope about her like he did with Rose.
- Everybody Loves Raymond did this to Debra, as part of a wider trend to make her the clear "winner" in her series-long conflict with her mother-in-law Marienote . Not only was she an absolute saint who was always right, she got Progressively Prettier and could get away with outright physical and emotional abuse of her husband Ray (which the show portrayed as positive female empowerment). This made her a Base-Breaking Character; it clearly worked with some fans, but others saw her as a smug Karma Houdini and Unintentionally Unsympathetic.
- Friends did this to Rachel. The series seemed to go out of its way to make her a desirable character, and her friends spoke of her accordingly. They make a big deal about how she "made it on her own" (i.e. left her life as a spoiled rich kid to live with her friends who bail her out when she screws up), how she's a "career woman" (with maybe the easiest job in the cast when she can hold one down), how great a mother she is (she's not — the show jokes about it), and how awesome a girlfriend she is (when she's probably the most difficult to please out of anyone in the cast, and not noticeably more attractive than Monica or Phoebe).
- Game of Thrones
- Karl Tanner mostly shills himself, going on at length about what a feared killer he was before joining the Night's Watch. Rast and Gren get in on the act, agreeing with his self-promotion as an unstoppable badass. But what does the audience actually see him do on-screen? Stab an old man (who did get some shill from Half Hand for being a tough one, but still), brutalize a bunch of frightened unarmed women, brutalize some Red Shirts, show off some flashy knife moves, and promptly die in his first fight scene to speak of.
- Renly Baratheon is described by loads of people as someone who would make an ideal ruler in contrast to his austere older brother Stannis. Even the writers openly said Renly would undoubtedly make a better King than Stannis. But Renly doesn't actually show any statesmanship, in his Small Council meetings just going along with what his oldest brother King Robert says. The idea that he's being supported by so many Lords falls somewhat flat when you remember he and his father-in-law are their Lord Paramount. And despite the idea that he has a caring and kind nature, he shows he was quite willing to start a war and kill his brother to usurp the Iron Throne, even turning down an offer from Stannis to become their heir and be on the Small Council (something that would be likely to land him on the throne for quite a few years). Part of this is explained by the writer (and the audience) really hating Stannis, forcing some Adaptational Heroism on Renly's part compared to the books, and his grandmother-in-law Olenna Tyrell says he knew how to look good and thought that meant he should be King.
- General Hospital: everyone is singing the praises of Brenda Barrett. Both men and women rave about how beautiful and perfect she is, and almost every heroine on the show is compared to her and told how they will never measure up to her. She's been more or less officially designated the One True Love of two different men. But she's far from a perfect person, and her returns usually result in the ruination of a few relationships.
- Increasingly, the show treats Will and Finn this way — particularly, other characters stand around gushing about how talented, good-hearted, and attractive they both are.
- In the first half of the Season 2, that this went on a lot with Kurt Hummel, in spite him of sometimes treating his friends rather cruelly. This culminated in "Furt", a whole episode of Kurt-shilling, upstaging even his dad and Finn's mom getting married (Finn's best man speech and even the parents' wedding vows were all about Kurt). Thankfully they let off on it after that, but did so by sending Kurt to Dalton.
- Other characters constantly talk up Blaine as a talented, attractive dreamboat, especially in Season 3.
- Rachel Berry swims in an unending sea of this with regard to her singing ability. Every character, even those who are rightfully put off by how incredibly self-centered and rude she is, falls over themselves to talk about how her singing voice is flawless, miraculous, the greatest thing they have ever heard, and how she is destined to be a shining star. It even takes bald-faced Character Shilling from Tina to persuade the dean of Rachel's dream school to give her a second audition... after Rachel completely screwed up her first one.
- Marley Rose is described as amazing so often, you'd think everyone was being drugged into doing it. She's as thick as two short planks, gets everything with no effort, and has the personality of a wet blanket — and yet nobody (not even the mean characters) has a bad thing to say about her, she has two guys chasing after her, and she seems to be an uber-special member of the Glee club.
- Gossip Girl does this to Dan Humphrey, especially in the series finale. This is partly because of the revelation that Dan is Gossip Girl, and everyone's suddenly willing to forgive him for basically stalking them, outing their secrets, humiliating them, and generally being a dick for the entirety of the show.
- How I Met Your Mother:
- Don was introduced in Season 5 as "the guy Robin would inevitably marry," but his subsequent appearances paint him as annoying and flawed. As soon as he started showing romantic interest in Robin, Marshall does not stop gushing about him. We don't even see their interactions, but Marshall calls him "smart, handsome and funny". This is jarring because two episodes ago we were supposed to hate the guy.
- Once Robin met Don, Barney was flanderized into a supreme womanizer who scored with every girl he hit on... and the rest of the cast inexplicably became his enthusiastic cheerleaders, even though in earlier seasons they'd only kind of put up with it and even expressed occasional disgust at some of Barney's slimier methods. They rooted for Barney every time he hit on a girl, actively helped him out at one point, and celebrated every time he scored (which was often). It was as if the writers were desperately telling their viewers, "See? See how much better Barney is as an exaggerated caricature of himself than when he was paired with Robin?" Then it's deconstructed when Robin reveals that she was actually quite upset when Barney started chasing girls and the other started cheering him on. The others realize what a dick he was, and he eventually settles down and commits to Robin.
- Passions: In the summer and fall of 2003, many people kept going on and on about what a good mother Theresa was. The problem with this was that not only did she spend much of the first year of her son's life using him to pull in her longtime crush Ethan (even naming the boy after him), but she wasn't even with him — she was vacationing in L.A., where Ethan and his wife happened to be seeking help with her complicated pregnancy.
- Power Rangers Samurai: Done heavily towards Jayden when Lauren enters the field. Jayden decides to leave the team now that his sister, the rightful heir, has returned and he thinks she'll take his place as the Red Samurai Ranger, only for the team to mostly ignore Lauren's attempts at making friends with them and instead complaining that she's not Jayden. This shilling continues past the time when Jayden returns, even focusing more on him than on Lauren when she failed at the sealing technique, the one thing she has spent her whole life training to do up until that point.
- Revolution: Done by Nora on behalf of Charlie, just in case we had forgotten how "special" she is. In fact, Miles can't ever seem to call her out on being an Idiot Hero without being seen as an asshole. It petered out in later episodes, though.
- Robin Hood: Kate is shilled to an ungodly extreme. Across only eleven episodes, the character is described by allies and enemies alike as amazing, perfect, fiesty, pretty, a treasure, a good fighter, brave, compassionate, and beautiful. Hilarity stems from the fact that she often displays the exact opposite qualities to the ones affixed to her. For example, the episode in which she's lauded as "compassionate" involves her repeatedly insisting that the outlaws leave her romantic rival to be raped and murdered by a psychopath, and the "good fighter" compliment makes no sense whatsoever considered she's the team Load who spends most of her time getting kidnapped.
- Played With in the case of Sherlock himself. There are a lot of characters who explicitly don't like him, and with good reason — he's an anti-social, abrasive Insufferable Genius with an Ambiguous Disorder (but who occasionally proves himself invaluable to the police). But the people who do like him (particularly John) see him as even more than a Jerk with a Heart of Gold and one of the greatest people they've ever known, even though he struggles mightily to give a shit about anyone else.
- In season 3, Charles Magnussen is described by Mycroft as the most dangerous man in Europe. He lasts a single episode against Sherlock, who ends up shooting him just to get rid of him. It doesn't help that the fans were immediately comparing him to Moriarty (whose message "Did you miss me?" could well be poking fun at those fans).
- In Smallville, Lana spent the first several years of the show's run being the girl everyone was in love with; she was Clark's long-term hopeless crush, the object of every villain's twisted affection (so that Clark could rescue her every week or so), and everyone else's bestest friend. All of the praise heaped upon the character couldn't hide the fact that she really wasn't all that amazing and would often indulge in petty behavior. As the show wore on, her awesomeness caught up with all the shilling when she got a dose of superpowers — but this made her more irritating, and she finally left the show in season eight.
- Stargate Universe:
- By the latter half of season 2, Scott's line telling Young, "You are a good commander!" was added to every episode intro, apparently in an attempt to convince the audience of just that. He wasn't.
- Scott himself is constantly touted on being a great leader who's also awesome because he Really Gets Around; the creators even called him the "Jack O'Neill of ten years ago." Fans countered that the comparison doesn't work because they actually like Jack.
- Star Trek: The Original Series had a tendency to shower unwarranted and effusive praise on guest star characters whom Gene Roddenberry had a special interest in plugging. It's most egregious in "Assignment Earth", when Kirk and company take several minutes out of the plot to expound on the physical perfection of Gary Seven (Robert Lansing's a handsome man, but come on) to hide the fact that the episode was a Poorly Disguised Pilot for a half-hour adventure series padded out to fill a full hour time slot.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation:
- In one particularly glaring example from a first-season episode, a Sufficiently Advanced Alien known as "The Traveler" stopped in seemingly for the exclusive purpose of telling the crew how wonderful Wesley was. While Wesley hadn't quite become a Creator's Pet by that point, further treatment along these lines cemented him as one of the most definitive examples of Creator's Pet. He is, in fact, the former Trope Namer ("Shilling the Wesley", "The Wesley" being the old name for Creator's Pet).
- Captain Okona from "The Outrageous Okona", did nothing actually outrageous except taking advantage of his incredibly hyped reputation as a wild maverick man of action to get laid (not exactly difficult in Trek's Free-Love Future). Popular with the ladies, but not with the fans, who largely consider him a joke.
- In-universe, the Zakdorn rely on their reputation as master strategists, which has ensured that nobody ever dared to fight them. Characters who meet one on TNG are less than impressed with his abilities. Apparently no race had ever attempted to tangle with them just because of their reputation, which annoyed Worf:
Worf: This Zakdorn does not appear to be a very formidable warrior.
Data: In the game of military brinkmanship, individual physical prowess is less important than the perception of a species as a whole. For over nine millennia, potential foes have regarded the Zakdorn as having the greatest innately strategic minds in the galaxy.
Worf: So no one is willing to test that perception in combat?
Worf: Then the reputation means nothing.
- "Peak Performance" actually manages to invert this for guest star Kolrami; the episode consists of the entire cast attempting to hammer into the viewer how "smug" he is supposed to be, but in reality, every crewmember of the Enterprise spent the entire episode being far more obnoxious and smug than he ever acts.
- A slightly more modest example was Dr. Pulaski. Characters often stated to each other (and the audience) how comforting her bedside manner was, and how she was a kind, loving physician. In reality, the character was abrasive, and her attempts at gentle teasing came off as bullying and mean. Definitely the last person you'd want by your bedside if you were sick.
- The Wire: A lot of characters in the third season comment on just how bad and cold Marlo Stanfield is, saying that he's "for real" and that no gangster we've yet seen can match up to him. And once he shows up, he lives up to the hype, starting a reign of terror that eclipses that of the Barksdale crew.
- Zig zagged in Daredevil (2015) with Wilson Fisk. Before his first appearance, characters like James Wesley would hype him up as a fearsome crime lord, without even mentioning him by name. The first time we actually see Fisk, he's a shy dork fumbling over asking Vanessa out on a date. Then we see that he really does live up to the hype, starting when he kills Anatoly with a car door.
- A pretty extreme example comes from the last season of That Seventies Show. Randy, an infamous Replacement Scrappy, is praised by the other teens for his looks and sweet demeanor. Worst of all, he's praised by Red (father of the character he replaced), despite the fact that it'd be out of character for Red to be complimenting anyone, much less a long-haired, soft-spoken youth
- Triple H is considered to have decent to great wrestling psychology by even his harshest critics (and they're pretty harsh). However, announcers would constantly talk about what a great technical wrestler he was, even though he was clearly a brawler with few on the mat moves.
- CMLL successfully turned Perro Aguayo Jr, who was seen as a Replacement Scrappy for his father, into a heavily cheered tecnico by having the popular Los Guapos back him up — but interestingly, the only way they could do that was hang a lampshade on how much everybody hated him to begin with.
- Adam "Pacman" Jones, a football player who joined TNA, was someone who nobody (be they football fans, wrestling fans, or the NFL itself) was particularly interested in seeing — except TNA's creative, who had Eric Young (whom everyone still liked at this point) blab constantly about how Pacman is his hero.
- Warhammer 40,000 does this so often, you hardly notice anymore; every faction update portrays its faction as mighty and unstoppable, if only because it's the best way to sell models. But even by these standards, the Space Marines — and particularly the Ultramarines — get a ridiculous amount of shilling. The 5th Edition codex converted the Ultramarines from their old Jack of All Trades characteristic to the epitome of Imperial virtue, and the pinnacle to which all other Space Marine chapters aspire to emulate. The codex being mostly written by a confessed Ultramarine fanboy might have had something to do with it.
- Happens to several characters in Legend of the Five Rings, due to the interactive nature of its storyline. Characters referred to as badasses can often be of questionable competence:
- Hantei Naseru is an odd case, as he was frequently shown to be a Magnificent Bastard and The Chessmaster before he ascended to the throne. But since then, his regime is all but neutered by political rivals, and he's never shown even attempting to oppose them.
- Scorpion ninja are supposed to be badass normals as opposed to the shapeshifting ninja of the Goju and Ninube, with the Scorpion expressly referred to as "Snake Eyes". In practice, they tend to play Conservation of Ninjutsu straight: A story with a single Scorpion ninja may have the character hold their own, but a group of them tends to grab the Idiot Ball and hold it tight.
- The Lion Clan are often talked up as the foremost tacticians and soldiers in the Empire. Their leaders have a horrible tendency to die to obvious ploys.
- The Phoenix, the foremost magicians in the Empire, and they've spent three generations running losing every single battle they're ever in.
- This is a major mechanic in Spycraft, with several skills (Networking, Impress, and Manipulation) and loads of feats and gear (cover identities, the Patriotism feat, etc.) focused on shifting people's attitude towards you (or another player or faction), even before you make your actual move. And that move doesn't have to be commensurate with your reputation. The Seduction conflict is an entire minigame based on talking a character into thinking that you're allied with them without actually doing anything to prove it.
- World of Warcraft:
- Garrosh Hellscream is constantly referred to by NPCs as a master tactician and military genius. We rarely see this put to the test, and when it is, he's incompetent at best (in Borean Tundra he sends the player on a Suicide Mission, and in Twilight Highlands his attempt to ambush the Alliance backfires spectacularly). Despite this, you incite an insurrection against the Dragonmaw just by talking about how awesome Garrosh is; in Battle for Azeroth, Garrosh is shilled as "the greatest warchief ever" (and is only explicitly evil in the canon timeline); and in Wrath of the Lich King, a letter from Saurfang describes how Garrosh's "successful" tactics were winning over the Horde, in spite of this coming right after the aforementioned mission in Borean Tundra. At this point, players began to realize that Garrosh was being propped up less by his in-universe merit and more for the narrative sake of the Conflict Ball.
- Varian Wrynn on the Alliance side is also shilled as a great tactician. It started with the Retcon that he (rather than the players) drove Onyxia out of Stormwind, and in Mists of Pandaria, he's portrayed as a better tactician than Tyrande Whisperwind, who has thousands of years more experience than he does.
- Sylvana is shilled as a good leader and worthy successor to Vol'jin and Thrall after they're incapacitated. The cutscene where Vol'jin reluctantly acknowledges her talent before dying is seen as a waste of his character.
- Illidan gets shilled during Xe'ra's retelling of his history, spinning even his worst acts into hard choices he had to make. In the same expansion, the Illdiari shill him (and are implied to have formed a Cult of Personality around him) without being portrayed negatively for supporting him. Ironically, in patch 7.3, Illidan basically rejects Xe'ra's attempts to make him the Chosen One and kills her after she tries to purify him by force.
- Grand Theft Auto IV: Packie repeatedly shills Gerald McReary as a violent, dangerous man. However, we never see Gerry's violent side (apart from bitter outbursts, but that's common in the McReary family), and he hasn't even killed anyone (with the possible exception of the Albanian biker in his first mission). Even when he finds out the charges against him are going to stick this time, his reaction is somber rather than aggressive.
- Kingdom Hearts:
- Kairi was never going to be very popular (being a female Love Interest in a fandom dominated by Yaoi Fangirls), but the franchise keeps insisting that she's unique and special. The only way they show this is by making her a Princess of Heart. She eventually fades into the background later in the series — until Dream Drop Distance's Stinger reveals she'll finally be trained with a Keyblade.
- Master Xehanort is regarded as a master strategist who can predict nearly anything "to some extent". However, as this is only after Dream Drop Distance Retconned the other villains' actions (already seen as a Gambit Pileup Kudzu Plot) into being All According to Plan for him, many fans just think he's extremely lucky at the Gambit Roulette. Likewise, the narrative and his Reports paint him as a genuine Well-Intentioned Extremist seeking Balance Between Good and Evil for Light and Darkness, but tragically Jumping Off the Slippery Slope in the end. However, his onscreen persona has yet to be anything but a Devil in Plain Sight Sociopath responsible for the worst of Dark Is Evil so far.
- By the time of BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend, Makoto Nanaya has been enjoying quite a bit shilling for someone who's just minding her own business rather than taking part of the plot actively. Hazama considers her a Spanner in the Works, Relius Clover becomes obsessed with her apparent "strong soul", and resident snobby bitch Rachel has only had nice things to say to her. Whether she lives up to the shilling is for the sequel to report.
- Inverted in the Monkey Island series: Guybrush wants to be recognized by everybody for his "success" in defeating Le Chuck and constantly boasts about how heroic he is for it, but nobody else gives a damn (perhaps because he just won't shut up about it). He eventually gets so accustomed to this that in Tales of Monkey Island, he's stunned that Morgan LeFlay actually has heard of him and his exploits.
- Tales of Xillia: Milla is often lavished with praise by the others, Jude most of all. In many scenes, they remark on her courageousness, her strength, and her beauty. In the latter half of the game, Rowen and the others each remark about how she inspires them and say they feel motivated whenever she's with them. The gamer, however, may not see those qualities, making much of it seem undeserved.
- Metroid: Other M: A common criticism is Samus's shilling of her former commanding officer and mentor Adam Malkovitch, who was The Ghost in her few Inner Monologues in Metroid: Fusion and mentioned nowhere else in the series. In Fusion, she called him "a perfect military mind" — which is portrayed in Other M as making such questionable decisions as sending each of his men to different locations (they all die except Samus and Anthony); ignoring the increasingly-obvious evidence of a traitor among the squadron; forcing Samus not to use any of her gear until he gives his permission; and inexplicably shooting Samus in the back instead of the Metroid she was facing down. Samus nonetheless idolizes him as a father figure (while he's pretty indifferent to her, although he does blow up a secret Metroid hatchery to save the universe, and himself with it).
- Karin Kanzuki in Street Fighter V got shilled quite a lot in the Cinematic Story Mode, where she wins all of her fights and becomes the Big Good. Meanwhile, experienced characters like Guile or Chun-Li kept getting hit by The Worf Effect until the plot allows them to win with the latter only getting one win in the entire story mode.
- Final Fantasy:
- Used effectively in Final Fantasy VII, where Cloud, Tifa, President Shinra, and most every NPC you encounter all talk about Sephiroth in frightened tones as being an impossibly brilliant General and unstoppable force of destruction (exemplified by the line, "Sephiroth's strength is unreal. He is far stronger in reality than any story you might have heard about him.") We even get to use him as a party member in a sequence which is explained as being a story that Cloud is telling, where he's so strong the player's survival is dependent on him. Then, when you see what he's capable of, he's so much worse.
- In Mobius Final Fantasy, Lightning (from Final Fantasy XIII) is a beloved legendary figure and hero in the setting, so even Wol, who is flippant and dismissive towards most of the wonders he's faced with, is in awe of her strength and beauty. Never mind that it's a violation of the established rules of the setting that he even knows who she is — because he's not originally from Palamecia, so he shouldn't know Palamecian legend (and in fact, his ignorance of it is plot important in many other scenes). The implication is that she's so special, every other world in the Void has her as a goddess figure. This is also noticeably different from the way Cloud is treated in his cameo, where both Wol and Echo treat him with suspicion and snark about him together until his merits become apparent.
- Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse plays up Flynn, the protagonist of Shin Megami Tensei IV, to be the messiah of Tokyo and Mikado who's just what humanity needs to liberate them from their crappy situations. It doesn't quite work out that way: that's not Flynn at all, but Shesha in disguise, and he exploits the Tokyo masses' hope and faith in Flynn to easily reap their souls in one place while they're full of emotions.
- In The Testament of Sherlock Holmes, Watson explains that Holmes's adopted daughter Katelyn Moriarty was the only person who Holmes ever loved, that she single-handedly turned him from a cold-hearted recluse into a doting father, and makes her out to be incredibly virtuous and intelligent. The sequel Sherlock Holmes: The Devil's Daughter maintains this stance but actually gives Katelyn a speaking role, which shows her to be saccharine sweet (but actually quite rude to the adults around her), precociously gifted (yet remarkably lacking in even basic common sense), and just generally annoying. She's pretty much hated by most players, unsurprisingly.
- Played for dark humor during the fifth and sixth chapter of Umineko: When They Cry, where the narration and characters keep going on about Erika Furudo. The problem is that there's so much gushing because it's Lambdadelta's script and she's also callous and an incredible bitch. She does end up satisfying her reputation. But she's still a bitch. It's also acknowledged that she was pissing off the Ushiromiya family and thus they decided to play a prank on her, so apparently being a genius isn't good for being actually likable.
- Red String's Yosue Makoto is two people: the one that everyone praises and the one that we are actually shown. The Makoto people speak highly about is a persistent, self-sacrificing "flirty goofball". The Makoto that we see, however, is shown time and time again to be opportunistic, jealous, and rather unhealthily obsessed when it comes to his "devotion" to the object of his affection, Miharu.
- In Dominic Deegan, Milov spends a few panels telling Nimmel that he makes a better werewolf than most werewolves, meaning he's smart, strong, loyal — all the traits they prize. It's particularly weird because earlier in the arc, Nimmel called the werewolf race "emotion-crazed beast people" and mused to himself that they reason he even came to study in their country was to use their strengthened magic to feel superior and be the "big dog on campus".
- In El Goonish Shive, many readers got annoyed by how completely flawless and perfect for Elliot Ashley seems to be. Fans even began theorizing that she must be a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing or some kind of villainess manipulating him. The author responded with a strip where Pandora notes that Ashley would be the perfect receptacle for being marked with magic powers, but that she is so deeply and sincerely pure and good that Pandora can't use her.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Part of the reason why Starlight Glimmer is a major Base-Breaking Character, especially when she first joined the main cast during Season 6, is that the show either has other characters praise her too easily or makes her look good at the expense of others by weakening them or giving them the Jerkass Ball.
- Hey Arnold!: The beginning of "Arnold Betrays Iggy" does this to Iggy, who prior to this was just a Recurring Extra; Sid and Stinky boast about how cool Iggy is, just to get the plot in motion.
- Total Drama:
- Owen, particularly during the second season. Most of his accomplishments are either based on dumb luck or somehow related to eating, yet everybody acts like they're incredible talents. In the first episode of Total Drama Action, for example, he manages to avoid being caught by the monster simply because he's too fat to pick up, then eats a bunch of fake food because he wouldn't just stop and listen to Chris tell him it was fake. But by coincidence, he happens to burp out the key they were supposed to find, and immediately several other characters wow his accomplishment. When he's voted off by Courtney in a later episode, everyone acts like she's crossed the Moral Event Horizon, even though he and the other Grips were all The Load in that day's challenge, and she only had the deciding vote because the others all wasted theirs, voting for her despite her having immunity. The tables turn on him in the following seasons: in World Tour, he is openly mocked by several other characters and made into a Butt-Monkey, and he's treated similarly in his cameos in seasons 4 and 5.
- This is a part of why Zoey became The Scrappy during All-Stars. Other characters kept going out of their way to talk about how amazing she is, but in reality she's one of the blandest characters in the series, she acted Too Dumb to Live with regard to Mal taking over her boyfriend's body, and most of her accomplishments were the result of dumb luck or tampering by the aforementioned Mal.
- South Park: Parodied with Heidi Turner, whom Cartman repeatedly says is smart and funny, with other characters (including Heidi herself) pointing out that she doesn't really do anything funny. It reads like a play on how shilling so often uses the criteria "smart" and "funny" that it's become almost meaningless to say that now.
- Used In-Universe on The Simpsons: In "The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show", Itchy and Scratchy shill the new character Poochie as early as his very first appearance, and his voice actor Homer suggests even further measures to boost his popularity — such as having other characters, when Poochie is not on screen, ask, "where's Poochie?"
Scratchy: Wow. Poochie is one outrageous dude.
Itchy: He's totally in my face.
- A 1985 Betty Boop cartoon titled "The Romance of Betty Boop" takes this to the extreme, with people gushing about how wonderful Betty is as she walks down the street. And it's every bit as cringe-inducing as it sounds.
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold:
- Batman occasionally (but not always) gets this treatment; characters think he's the greatest human who ever lived, and not even the day's guest star can match up to him, even if they're a superhero themeslves. It's at its worst in episodes like "Mayhem of the Music Meister!", where every superhero sings about how jealous of Batman they are.
- The episode with Captain Atom presented the Captain as a Smug Super who looks down on people without superpowers. He's basically a Straw Man there to make fun of Batman, while the rest of the JLI are shocked and insist that no, Batman is totally the best hero ever and certainly better than all of them.
- Wonder Woman is the most consistently shilled hero, even more so than Batman. Steve Trevor gushes about she will always save him (and Batman too). She even has her own leitmotif that shouts "WONDER WOMAN!" every time the shot cuts to her.
- In The LEGO Batman Movie, the heroes constantly talk up how awesome and heroic Batman is, surrounding him with cheering and admiration even when he's offscreen. But when we actually see Batman for real, he's revealed to be a broken man with a life of loneliness and isolation. He explicitly needs the adulation, and when it stops after the Joker surrenders to Barbara Gordon, Batman's emotion collapse is heart-wrenching to watch.
- Winx Club does this in an odd way in the later seasons, propping up both Bloom and whoever she's supporting that particular episode. The basic gist of it is: character is incapable of doing something, Bloom comes along and tells them how amazing they are, character is suddenly happier and manages to succeed because of how amaaazing her pep talk was.
- In season two of Voltron: Legendary Defender, Shiro repeatedly talks about how much he wants Keith to take over the Black Lion and lead Voltron if anything were to happen to him. While Keith isn't a bad pilot, he's very Hot-Blooded and hadn't shown many good leadership qualities up to that point. Then in season three, despite the Black Lion accepting him, Keith still gets the team in trouble several times, quickly making him a Base-Breaking Character. It's ultimately deconstructed a bit in season four, when the other paladins start getting frustrated with him.