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Deconstructed Character Archetype

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"I think if there's a truly seductive quality about Clementine, it's that her personality promises to take you out of the mundane. It's like, you secure yourself with this amazing, burning meteorite to carry you to another world, a world where things are exciting. But, what you quickly learn is that it's a really elaborate ruse."
Joel from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, commenting on the illusory Manic Pixie Dream Girl quality of his ex-girlfriend
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Deconstructing a trope involves taking an existing trope, playing it straight, and examining the likely/realistic consequences or implications of that trope that tend to be ignored by straight examples of it. This trope does the same thing, but for fictional character archetypes.

One way to do this is to take a familiar character type and place the character in a realistic setting, and then explore what happens as a result of the character being Wrong Genre Savvy. Another is to explore likely facets of the character's personality or background that straight examples of the trope tend to overlook. This can also be done as part of a Genre Deconstruction if certain character archetypes are closely associated with a particular genre (what would Westerns be without the archetypical Cowboy?). A particularly interesting (and decidedly meta) way to do this is by taking an actor known only for playing certain kinds of roles and casting them in a role which deconstructs that character type. Note, however, that an actor deconstructing their established persona or character type is not automatically an example of this trope unless their persona is a recognizable character archetype in its own right.

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As a rule of thumb, examples of this trope should be deconstructions of character archetypes that already have their trope pages (The Hero, The Lancer, Anti-Villain, etc.), unless the character archetype is no longer in current use (Discredited Trope, Forgotten Trope, etc.).

A subtrope of both Deconstruction and Deconstructed Trope (insofar as character archetypes are tropes in their own right). Compare Wrong Genre Savvy and Playing with Character Type.


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    Advertising 
  • Recently, Flo from Progressive has become a deconstruction of the quirky, lovable salesperson that she popularized. While her complete enthusiasm for her job makes her a great saleswoman, it also means that she's terrible at holding normal conversations that aren't related to insurance, meaning that she doesn't have any friends. This, along with her quirkiness, is repeatedly shown to greatly annoy her family, to the point where they prefer discussing insurance with her colleagues instead of her. The closest things to friends that Flo has are her coworkers, and even then they're implied to dislike her (or are at the very least annoyed by her). Overall, she doesn't seem to have that much of a life outside of insurance. All of this would be pretty depressing were she not so cheerful all the time and if the commercials didn't have a comedic tone.

    Music 
  • Poets of the Fall's video for Obsession Song "Carnival of Rust" has its singer Zoltar, a fortunetelling automaton with tatty clothes, peeling paint, and tell-tale black-accented white makeup, as a deconstructed Pierrot. While genuinely tragic, pining after the woman in the gas mask who visits the Carnival, he's rendered foreboding and sinister because the lyrics make clear his idea of love is deeply dysfunctional and self-interested since he thinks it will fix his life/free him from the Carnival. Though his desperation is sincere, there's a reason his demanding chorus is signaled by a Scare Chord.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • The stand-up routines of Bo Burnham revolve around deconstructing the "weird kid in high school" type that's shy and a total loner. While it's played for Black Comedy, Bo frequently points out how dark some of his thoughts can get, how utterly bizarre human nature can be, how introversion can mess someone up, and the weird things people do to try and become popular.
  • Steve Harvey was an early adopter of the White Dude, Black Dude trope, though in his case it's an instance of Unbuilt Trope. He always made sure to show that the black guy was just as screwed up and idiotic as the white guy, being so focused on doing things the "black way" that he screwed himself over.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000
    • The Space Marines' Primarchs deconstruct Magnetic Hero. They are the mightiest and most charismatic men in history, natural leaders and born conquerors who come to dominate the worlds they were scattered to before taking their place leading the Emperor's armies. But they also have some serious issues resulting from this unusual upbringing and the Emperor's Parental Abandonment, and the same Undying Loyalty they inspire in their legions means that when half of the Primarchs turn traitor, they can take the majority of their forces with them.
    • The Grey Knights deconstruct The Paladin. Their sole role is fighting daemon corruption so that usually means killing an entire population for being too close to said corruption. It is also said not one Grey Knight had fallen to Chaos. It's because they are brainwashed so they can't make that choice.
    • Night Haunter deconstructs Terror Hero. He believes fear is the greatest tool that would bring peace to his world and so carries out killing sprees on a global scale hoping it will Scare 'Em Straight. Years later, he comes back to see his planet has reverted to its evil ways since he and his legion aren't there to terrify anyone, while the things he did to instill that fear slowly twisted him into a worse monster than the ones he fought. Rather than admit his methods were wrong, he blows his planet up. Additionally, his Legion has spent so long relying on the fear that they're subpar in a straight-up fight; anyone who's not terrified, such as their Arch-Enemy faction with a literal rule called And They Shall Know No Fear, is going to have an edge against the Night Lords.
    • The Emperor deconstructs the Pro-Human Transhuman and God-Emperor all at once. While he's on humanity's side, his inhuman level of power and ridiculously long lifespan mean that he doesn't have much ability to relate to individual humans (or even human-derived demigods like the Primarchs) or understand what motivates them, while causing his ego to inflate spectacularly. This means that his all-important campaign largely ends up in the hands of people whose goals had little or nothing to do with conquering the galaxy for another's benefit, contending against forces they were generally not permitted to know even existed, with all information that might help fight them suppressed. This, in turn, led to the corruption of half of the Primarchs to Chaos, the largest civil war to ever strike the Imperium, and the end of not only the Emperor's grand dream but also his ability to move on his own and directly run his empire.
    • Lorgar Aurelian, Bearer of the Word deconstructs Church Militant and Magnetic Hero. Raised in the extremely religious world of Colchis, young Lorgar is used by his adoptive father Kor Phaeron as a means to gain power. Lorgar's immense charisma means that he can convert entire populations to his cause but being a diplomat and preacher first, he wins the civil war through sheer numbers alone. Likewise, he is averse to war (despite being made to do just that!), constantly talking down to his more hawkish brothers and being obnoxiously preachy overall. The Emperor made matters worse when he said nothing when the people of Colchis worshiped him, later neglected to tell Lorgar to stop with the worship to starve the Chaos Gods, and finally said that out of all of his sons Lorgar (and just Lorgar) failed him. Wracked with self-doubt, Lorgar looked for new gods to worship sending him right into Phaeron's Chaos-worshiping hands. With renewed faith, Lorgar became the catalyst of the Horus Heresy and the current state of the Imperium and Emperor. His zeal makes him the most faithful of Chaos Undivided and his charisma allows him to pull entire populations into his fold.
    • Fulgrim, Primarch of the Emperor's Children, deconstructs The Perfectionist. He worked hard to follow in the image of The Emperor, being loyal and working to instill his legion with the same mindset as himself, even naming them The Emperor's Children to honor him. However, his dedication to perfectionism caused him to develop into a narcissist who focused on improving himself to the point of near madness. This made it easy for him to fall into Slaanesh's hands once he found a sword containing a Slaanesh Daemon, which began using his hard work to steer him into following the Chaos God's will. The Daemon then possessed him, which effectively broke him. Once he was free, he had been more or less broken and twisted into a vain and selfish man.

    Theatre 

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa:
    • In particular, the theme of the games deconstruct Broken Ace, Bunny-Ears Lawyer, and Dysfunction Junction. Every non-protagonist student is the best there is at their specific Ultimate Talent, and all of them are eccentric and colorful... because they all have some personal tragedy or mental health issue, some of which made their talent possible in the first place. Some characters feel restricted by their talent, but at the same time, they're incapable of functioning without it. The reason they find the protagonists so approachable is that they're the closest thing to a therapist in all of Hope's Peak Academy.
    • Of the Wholesome Crossdresser with Chihiro Fujisaki. He disguises himself as a girl to avoid being called girly or being a target of bullying due to his pliant, shy, and sweet personality, as well as his lack of physical strength. He does not identify himself as female, but the amount of persecution he suffered for being not a manly guy made him seek to end this by denying his gender, even though this is not something he likes or is comfortable with.
    • Mondo Owada is a deconstruction of the Delinquents archetype since despite being the leader of the largest motorcycle gang in all of Japan, he's painfully aware that because of his lifestyle, he doesn't have much of a future once he graduates. He also deconstructs Jerk with a Heart of Gold since, even though he has a good heart, he is still a delinquent with violent tendencies, as seen when his first reaction to being jealous of Chihiro, whom he had bonded with, is to impulsively murder the kid- something which he immediately regrets.
    • The second game's Player Character Hajime Hinata deconstructs I Just Want to Be Special and Took a Level in Badass. He was originally an Ordinary High-School Student who admired Hope's Peak Academy more than anyone and was willing to do anything to attend, even if it meant being part of the subpar Reserve Course. Even then, he was so insecure about his lack of talent that he underwent a surgical procedure designed to grant him every talent. However, this required excising all of his senses, thoughts, emotions, hobbies, and memories that interfered with acquiring these talents. This transformed Hajime into the utterly apathetic and sociopathic genius Izuru Kamukura.
    • Nagito Komaeda deconstructs Born Lucky and Born Unlucky. He's been plagued by a cycle of good and bad luck ever since he was born, with good events followed by bad events followed by good events. While this allowed him to win several lotteries and earned him a place in the academy, it also came with heavy costs, such as the deaths of his parents and two terminal illnesses. He's become a Death Seeker who's obsessed with hope, going so far as to incite conflict believing that the hope that arises from it will be even stronger.
    • Mikan Tsumiki is both a parody and deconstruction of the Reluctant Fanservice Girl, as well as Hates Being Alone. Many of the compromising positions she ends up in are comically exaggerated, with many characters pointing out how odd it is. With a long history of bullying and abuse, Mikan has come to believe that publicly degrading and humiliating herself, as uncomfortable and damaging to her already low self-esteem it is, and murdering people and committing atrocities at the behest of a charismatic yet crazed Straw Nihilist dictator whom she “loves”, is the only way she can get attention. The one thing she fears more than being abused is being ignored.
    • The third game has Maki Harukawa, who deconstructs both the Violently Protective Girlfriend and Defrosting Ice Queen trope, as all, her attempts to protect Kaito make the situation worse, are futile because Kaito has been Secretly Dying the entire time and then in the Wham Episode final trial, it's revealed that Maki was brainwashed into falling in love with Kaito to boost the show's ratings, and that the Kaito she "fell" for didn't exist, as his audition tapes show he wanted to be in the Killing Game to be rich and famous and couldn't wait to kill someone. Not to mention, Maki is given a Dark and Troubled Past where she was trained to be an assassin from a young age, forced to look after other children in the orphanage, and was separated from her best friend, all as part of her "character arc" where she loosens up after befriending Kaito and Shuichi. She does not take this revelation well.
  • Katawa Shoujo:
    • Hanako Ikezawa deconstructs the Shrinking Violet trope. The reason she's so anxious around people is because of the many scars she received from a house fire that also killed her parents when she was only eight. The bullying and isolation she endured at her old school only made things worse. She's painfully aware of how she is and hates when other people coddle her and treat her like a child, thinking they only do it to make themselves feel better. Doing this too much leads to her Downer Ending, where she completely explodes and tells Hisao she hates him.
    • Emi Ibarazaki deconstructs the Plucky Girl. Even after losing both her legs, she remains a perpetually cheerful, energetic girl. However, the one thing she hasn't managed to recover from was the loss of her father. She knows it's normal to lose relationships with people, and it's best to be strong and move on. However, at the same time, the same stubbornness that enables her to deal with her issues prevents Emi from growing close to anyone because she is afraid that the pain of loss will prevent her from moving onto the future. This prevents anyone from helping her when she needs it.
    • Rin Tezuka deconstructs the Cloudcuckoolander. Her eccentric behavior isn't portrayed as funny or cute, but instead, it makes it difficult for anyone to communicate with her, much less relate with her. She just wants to be understood like any other person but can't express herself properly.
    • Shizune Hakamachi deconstructs the Spirited Competitor. She's stern, assertive, takes her position as Student Council President very seriously, and likes to turn everything into a competition...but it's that very mentality that drove the other members of the council away (including her cousin Lilly), leaving Misha as her Only Friend.
    • Lilly Satou deconstructs Yamato Nadeshiko. Because she appears to be so perfect, Hisao is perfectly content to just lie back and let her handle everything. So when she’s eventually pressured into doing something she really doesn’t want to do (emigrate to Scotland to live with her estranged parents) no one, Hisao included, is willing to question her on it.
  • In Hakuouki, second-in-command Hijikata is a Hypercompetent Sidekick to Kondou, doing most of the work of discipline, leading and strategizing for the Shinsengumi, all to elevate Kondou's warm and friendly nature with the troops. But this backfired as Hijikata's efforts to protect Kondou leave Kondou completely unprepared to deal with the harsh realities of leadership, where Kondou is unable to cope with the Boshin War and is unable to retain the respect of his men when things go wrong.
  • Doki Doki Literature Club!:
    • Natsuki acts like your average Tsundere - abrasive, sarcastic, and arrogant at times. However, this is a facade as she is so quick to go on the defensive because she is constantly being judged by her other classmates and by her (possibly) neglectful father and her brash personality is a coping mechanism for her low self-esteem since others look down on her because of her small stature, her manga preference or cutesy writing style. This worsens her friendship with Yuri, whom Natsuki genuinely does want to befriend, but her Hair-Trigger Temper only alienates Yuri further.
    • Sayori is revealed to be an Insecure Love Interest. It isn't that she feels that she isn't good enough for the player character. It's that she thinks she's not good enough for anyone to care about. Even when people express concern for her or try to be her friend, she feels that they are "wasting" their time and energy on her. She also deconstructs the Cute Clumsy Girl archetype, as the protagonist character notes that Sayori is always forgetting to bring lunch money, constantly runs late, and criticizes her for her spaciness... all of which are classic symptoms of Depression. The protagonist immersion drops the snark after finding out.
    • The game's antagonist, Monika, is a Deconstruction of the common wish-fulfillment trope of a Dating Sim character who is Yandere for the player. What do you get when a character with Medium Awareness is in love with not the in-universe protagonist, but the player? The answer: a Cosmic Horror Story.
  • Shinrai: Broken Beyond Despair has Momoko Mori, a deconstruction of the Clingy Jealous Girl. Not only does her clinginess cause friction between her and her boyfriend Hiro, as well as her and others (for example, she gets angry with Runa for trying to talk to Hiro), but it's also the product of deep-seated trust issues. Because Momoko was often taken advantage of in the past, she gradually stopped trusting people until she befriended Kamen. Unfortunately, her friendship with Kamen and her relationship with Hiro doesn't help her issues- it's thought that if either one of them betrays her, she will likely be broken. When Kamen reveals that Hiro asked her out and planned on dumping her, Momoko refuses to believe it and even threatens to end her friendship with Kamen if she continues trying to convince her of that. Momoko soon discovers messages from Hiro on Kamen's cell phone, then plots to murder him and kill herself, to frame Kamen for their deaths.
  • Fate/stay night:
    • Saber is this for The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask and Failure Knight. She is a gender-bent King Arthur, having been born female and taking the mantle of the king when she pulled Caliburn from the sword in the stone. As a king, she felt it was better to become emotionless and focus on putting the people first while ignoring her feelings or wants. Eventually, many of her knights lost faith in her, and her people felt she was a poor ruler because she seemed inhuman and no longer able to connect to her, resulting in it fracturing the kingdom and leading to the fall of Camelot once Lancelot's affair with the queen was revealed and Mordred (herself spurned by her father's seemingly indifference to wanting to be accepted as her child) took advantage of it to lead a rebellion. This resulted in her feeling she was a failure, and so she becomes a Heroic Spirit to obtain the Holy Grail to undo her rule by wishing someone else would take her spot. When Shirou learns this in the Fate route, he points out how her wish to use the Grail to undo her rule is ultimately selfish, because she's essentially thrusting the responsibility to someone else, and that she has no way of knowing if someone better than her exists to handle her role. Saber is very upset when she learns this, but eventually comes to realize Shirou is right, and that she let her guilt and failure blind her to the fact she is being selfish with her wish.
    • Kirei Kotomine is this for the Card-Carrying Villain. In two of the three routes he is revealed to be the game's villain and more or less just does evil things because he wants to. Heavens Feel though reveals that in reality, Kotomine was someone suffering from two conflicting parts of his being: the fact he only feels joy when causing pain and misery, but also the fact he was raised with morals and a sense of humanity. This made him cross the Despair Event Horizon years ago when his wife killed herself in the hopes of proving he could feel love; instead, it made him despair at the realization he didn't get to kill her. As a result, he desires to bring the corrupted holy grail to fruition just so he can ask Angra Mainyu a simple question: why was a man like himself born this way? All his actions are simply to find meaning and answers for his paradoxical nature, and to do so, he presents himself as this trope because nobody understands him, except on Heavens Feel where Shirou finds out how similar they are. He looks and acts the part of an evil villain because its the only thing that can bring him joy.
  • Your Turn to Die:
  • In Nightshade, Enju is the treasured princess of Koga as she is seen as a symbol of peace between the Koga and Iga clans, and is often protected and sheltered by the village. On certain routes such as on Hanzo's, she comes to realize that she is completely unprepared for real life-and-death situations since she has spent all her life being protected by others. She resolves to become strong enough to keep herself alive.

    Web Animation 
  • Tifa in Final Fantasy VII: Machinabridged seems to be this for the Adaptational Jerkass common in most Abridged Series. In contrast to canon, Tifa is rude on a good day and needlessly cruel on a bad one. It is then later revealed that her Adaptation Personality Change was a coping mechanism for witnessing her father's death, which makes sense even in the context of canon.
  • Hazbin Hotel: Charlie is a deconstruction of the Princess Classic. She fits almost every trope of the average Disney Princess, being an All-Loving Hero who's a Friend to All Living Things that often breaks into saccharine music numbers. In your standard Disney setting, this attitude would net her 100% Adoration Rating and a lot of respect. However, her domain is Hell, which is a hedonistic, ultra-violent Crapsack World. As a result, her royal status doesn't mean much when none of the citizens are willing to so much as give her the time of day, and the sheer horribleness of the environment means that most of the denizens see her determined altruism as hopelessly naive at best and dangerous at worst.
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • True Companions/Badass Crew is deconstructed through the Freelancers. On paper, they were meant to be an invincible group of badasses that were initially friendly and close-knit with each other. But due to the competitive nature of the Project and the ranking system constantly shoved at the agents, they were prone to jealousy, grudges, and bitterness. The scoreboard only served to make the Freelancers complete missions on their own rather than work together. All of this would lead to the team turning on one another (such as a sister trying to kill her brother, a few agents going rogue, friends attacking each other) and the project cannibalizing itself.
    • invoked Allison/Agent Texas is a deconstruction of the self-insert. She is everything that the Director wanted her to be, as she is the memory of someone he once loved. But her absurdly powerful and ultra-competent abilities don't endear her towards others. The Reds and Blues only think of her as the "scary chick", except for Church who is unhealthily obsessed with her (which he eventually calls himself out on through a representative of Tucker). She is isolated from the other Freelancers who are either fearful or resentful towards her - especially Agent Carolina, the daughter of the person Tex is based on. Since Allison's death is a crucial part of the Director's memory of her, Tex is trapped in an endless cycle of failure at critical moments. A self-insert is nearly always supposed to be loved by everyone, but Tex only fosters fear, bitterness, and paranoia from others. Furthermore, a self-insert is nearly always meant to always have things work out for them in the end. Instead, Tex's curse to always fail at the last possible second whenever she puts her mind to something has made her into a bitter self-loathing cynic who eventually "just wants to rest."
    • On that note, Allison is the Director's Lost Lenore where he becomes obsessed with the idea to find some way to bring her back... even if it meant destroying his relationship with his daughter, torturing his own A.I. (Alpha) past the brink of insanity, manipulating countless people to complete his goals, indirectly being the cause for most of the Freelancers' deaths and committing numerous horrific acts.
    • Agent Washington and Agent Carolina deconstruct the '90s Anti-Hero. Their cold, ruthless, and vengeful personalities only serve to alienate them from their allies, and it's made abundantly clear that their mindset is deeply toxic.
    • Frank "Doc" DuFresne deconstructs the Butt-Monkey trope that so many comedies rely on. He's gone through so much trauma at the hands of the Blood Gulch Crew that he starts to get a mental illness. In Season 13, he eventually develops an Ax-Crazy Split Personality in the form of O'Malley, which is based on the AI he was possessed by for most of The Blood Gulch Chronicles. In Season 15, he engages in a Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal because of all the bullshit the Blood Gulch Crew's put him through, though it doesn't last long when he realizes how the Blues and Reds have gone completely off the deep end. This resurfaces in Season 16 when he performs a similar betrayal due to Chrovos' manipulations.
      • The other Butt-Monkeys of the series also get around to deconstructing this trope in later seasons. Grif temporarily quits the Reds and Blues because of his status as one and his generally vitriolic relationship with them, pointing out he has no real obligation to help them and that nothing is stopping him from leaving to pursue his wants. Donut is revealed to have major insecurities from how the Reds and Blues generally treat him as an annoyance and don't respect him, which results in him turning against them after being manipulated by Chrovos. Even after he rejoins them and spends half a season freeing them from a singularity they have been imprisoned in, they still don't respect him and despise him for his betrayal; eventually, this results in him snapping, and even after forgiving them, he decides to part ways with them.
    • Felix serves as a deconstruction of the classic "generally attractive and charismatic Deadpan Snarker Jerk with a Heart of Gold White Male Lead" archetype seen in countless Hollywood films. His "charismatic and lovable dick" persona is just a facade he puts on to manipulate people, and he's a high-functioning sociopath who has been hired to goad the planet he's on into a bloody civil war that leaves no one alive. His dismissive attitude towards death and ability to crack jokes during the Chorus Civil War just shows how much of a monster he is and how he's a Psychopathic Manchild that gets off on making others suffer for his amusement. Even his (admittedly implied up until Season 14) attractive physique is revealed to just be a facet of his vanity and need to make himself come across as appealing to other people so they can do what he wants them to do.
    • Locus goes out of his way to present himself as an unfeeling and emotionally detached Consummate Professional - doing whatever his mission requires, no matter how terrible or morally questionable, with the justification that he is Just Following Orders. In truth, he is just as human as anyone else and was deeply traumatized by what happened to him during the Human-Covenant War. Assuming this role of an unquestioning soldier is just a way for Locus to cope with his trauma. Unfortunately, this leaves him easy prey for Felix's manipulation and control. This facade gradually falls apart as he fights against Wash during The Chorus Trilogy, with the latter repeatedly calling him out on his hypocrisy. This forces Locus to question what he is doing, eventually culminating in a Heel–Face Turn.
    • The Blues and Reds take apart both the Cannon Fodder and the Redshirt Army. When they found out that they were nothing but test subjects to be used by Project Freelancer, meaning what they went through and the losses they suffered meant nothing to their superiors, they went off the deep end and became ruthless anarchic terrorists dedicated to striking back at the people who hurt them no matter how many innocent souls get in the way.
    • Chrovos is a deconstruction of The Older Immortal. On the one hand, they are far more powerful than the rest of the Cosmic Powers, and are also mentioned to even be older than the current universe. On the other hand, they're the only immortal in the entire series to suffer from The Fog of Ages. Additionally, they're prone to Bond Villain Stupidity since they've gone utterly insane from being locked up alone in a prison cell for several eons and are just profoundly relieved to be able to talk to someone for a change.
    • In Season 12, Tucker deconstructs Suspiciously Similar Substitute. With Church gone and Washington captured, Tucker is forced to take up their role as the leader forcing everyone to get things done. He is also highly insecure and resentful about having to substitute in for them, and his attempts to emulate their leading styles cause him lots of failures. After he starts growing into the role, Church returns and is outraged when Tucker does not immediately relinquish the position of leader to him.
    • Tucker also deconstructs the Bumbling Sidekick. In the early seasons, Tucker serves as The Lancer to Church and later Washington, but he's too much of a perverted, lazy moron to ever actually be any help, he's subject to tons of insults and Amusing Injuries, and he's barely tolerated even by Church, his best friend. Season 12 has him thrust into the leadership role for the first time, and reveals that he's bitterly aware of how much of a failure he is and that he's an insecure, self-loathing wreck because of it. It gradually becomes apparent that he's actually very competent and a brilliant strategist, while much of his supposed incompetence was because he had never seen any reason to put any real effort into his tasks until he was pushed to his absolute limit.
  • RWBY:
    • Jaune deconstructs the Loser Archetype: Butt-Monkey. Introduced as the travel sick boy who can't remember where his locker is, he embarrasses himself trying to woo Weiss, has to be rescued during Initiation because he doesn't know what he's doing, and it's all played for comedy until Cardin's bullying reveals the Awful Truth. Jaune loathes the "loveable idiot" label, wants to live up to his famous ancestors as a protector of the people, but even his own parents didn't believe in him. His journey shows how being "comic relief" can shatter confidence, hopes and dreams. Once he starts accepting help from others, he turns his life around because he's determined to better himself no matter what.
    • Professor Ozpin deconstructs the mysterious, secretive Cool Teacher (a Mentor Archetype). His enigmatic decisions cause repercussions for everyone, including himself. Allowing Team RWBY to investigate the villains endangers the entire city, stripping him of Vytal Festival security and putting his job on the line. Allies and Kingdoms are ill-prepared for Salem's machinations because they don't know the Awful Truth, but abandon the fight whenever they do. When the heroes turn on him, the confrontation shatters him, leaving them to deal alone with Atlas' precarious situation, giving Salem the upper hand in Volume 7. In Volume 8, he and the heroes reconcile, each having learned lessons from the other.
    • Qrow deconstructs the Rebellious Spirit archetype; he puts up a front of being a cool, lone badass, who defies rules and social norms, but the truth is that he does not actually want to be alone and having it enforced on him has ruined his mental and emotional health. He brags a lot about his skills but in private he's full of self-loathing and struggles to believe that he's worth anything, is very dependent on Ozpin because Ozpin made him feel wanted, and his drinking becomes less of a running joke and more a sign of severe addiction.
  • Epithet Erased deconstructs the Wacky Parent, Serious Child dynamic through Martin and Molly, respectively; Martin's childish personality makes him a very irresponsible parent (and is implied to be a result of being in denial over his wife's death) and an even worse businessman. As a result, Molly, who's thirteen, is the only one willing to try and keep the family toy store afloat, which is taking a toll on her grades and sleep schedule.

    Webcomics 
  • Bittersweet Candy Bowl deconstructs the violent "Wolf-Girl" type of Tsundere, and rather viciously at that. Mike eventually gets sick of Lucy's volatile behavior of alternating between affection and abuse, and delivers a devastating "The Reason You Suck" Speech to her (wherein he tells her that he hates her, that she's a parasite, and that nobody loves her), which destroys their friendship. This in turn leads Lucy to attempt suicide and move away. When she returns to Roseville High, she coldly rejects his attempts to reconcile and distances herself from the rest of their friendship group. Turns out that directing verbal and physical abuse towards your hapless Love Interest, no matter how insecure you might be, is not a great approach to romance.
  • Cucumber Quest: Of the prototypical video game villain archetype: a scary monster that desires world conquest and constantly comes back no worse for wear no matter how many defeats or setbacks they suffer, such as Bowser and Ganon. Cucumber Quest takes that concept and applies realistic consequences to it: the Nightmare Knight and his crew have been defeated almost a hundred times by this point, and one of the main goals of the comic is examining the physical and psychological effects so much defeat can have on somebody. The Nightmare Knight simply doesn't want to hurt anyone anymore, and is stuck trying to make sure Dreamside fears him while secretly preventing his Disaster Masters from causing any real damage. The Disaster Masters, meanwhile, showcase varying reactions to their predicament (Rosemaster hates hurting innocents, Quakemaster worries about his physical health, Noisemaster has grown to resent the Knight for his failure to lead them, etc.), but there is one constant: they are sick and tired of losing, and are willing to do absolutely anything to finally score the sweet taste of victory.
  • Damaged Goods
    • Keddie is one of the Drill Sergeant Nasty, showing that her abrasive, bossy tendencies are more likely to leave her soldiers poorly prepared and lacking in self esteem, and sending them off to come of age in this state gets more of them killed.
    • Anthea is one of jadeblood fantrolls, often portrayed as the Token Good Teammate and Only Sane Man. Anthea is shown using her caste's stereotypes to lower people's guard, resenting the pseudo-safety her caste provides, expressing irritation in false-honor of her duty, and betraying people's trust in her. She also Averts being the Team Mom, intentionally keeping her distance.
  • Homestuck: Vriska Serket is the only non-Parody Sue troll and is an unflinching examination of the psyche of such characters and her impact on other characters. What kind of person would intentionally monopolize the spotlight while antagonizing her friends and gloating about her grandiose importance? Not a very happy or healthy person. And how would people around her react? They would consider her a dangerous, abusive manipulator.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Belkar Bitterleaf deconstructs Token Evil Teammate. The rest of the team explicitly does not like him (minus Elan, though he likes everyone in general) and only keeps him around for his ranger skills...many of which are not as good as they should be due to his focus on murder and mayhem over viability. His antics often bite them in the asses due to his main skill being Attack! Attack! Attack! and his short temper and lack of problem with killing get him saddled with a curse. He's finally forced to change or die, at which point he starts faking character development to remain relevant in the story and not get ditched by his teammates. Later still, his strained relationship with Roy means Roy won't believe him about the vampirized Durkon not being the same as their friend and people assume his trying to kill the vampire is just him being an asshole as always, instead of trying to stop a bad guy.
    • General Tarquin is a deconstruction of Genre Savvy. Someone so able to see "the way things go" and understand the narrative nature of a world is likely to get full of themselves for their understanding and get an inflated ego, which leads to the potential for diving into Wrong Genre Savvy if things don't go their way. Tellingly, he's not even the real leader of his team, but they let him think that since feeding his ego keeps him around to be useful for his Genre Savvy moments and his teammates treat him with much less respect than one would expect a Magnificent Bastard to receive. In addition, he is an utter sociopath due to merely seeing other people as characters in a story, and disposable characters at that since he assumes the next person who fills a similar role is pretty much the same thing as their being there. And finally, since his savvy amounts to stories that have already happened (and quite often at that), the moment the story veers into novel territory he gets lost quickly; Elan realizes this and just dumps him behind as the Big Bad Wannabe he is as a form of defeat, which leaves him stranded in a story where he no longer has any idea what's going to happen next, a prospect he finds terrifying.
    • Minister Malack deconstructs Friendly Enemy. He does not see why he and Durkon cannot remain friends despite what he views to be perfectly fine compromises, which Durkon (a Lawful Good Cleric) sees as unacceptable terms due to Evil Cannot Comprehend Good. Eventually, he relents that they are at an impasse, and attacks Durkon fully, though with some remorse, and kills and vampirizes him.
    • An arc of Haley's is a deconstruction of The Unintelligible. Haley's inability to communicate properly with her team is a genuine hindrance and almost leads to a situation where a bad guy frames her and she can't defend herself since no one understands what she's saying. The disability is easily taken advantage of in general.
    • Two of Vaarsuvius' major traits (their prideful personality and their status as an Insufferable Genius) get deconstructed when their pride keeps them from asking for help from the rest of the Order of the Stick, leading to Vaarsuvius making a very bad Deal with the Devil and pursuing certain foes on their own. Vaarsuvius' usually reticent nature means that the rest of the team don't even know something's wrong after V returns until they own up to their actions, despite the readers seeing Vaarsuvius crippled with guilt for most of an arc. In addition, Vaarsuvius' pride gives them a very strained relationship with Blackwing, their familiar. (Though eventually, they do manage to patch their relationship up.) Furthermore, V's action hinders the Order even more when their Familicide on the black dragon that threatened their family led to the deaths of the Draketooth clan as well as the deaths of hundreds of innocents (due to them being related to the Draketooth clan.) It leads to V being out of commission for a while. Lastly, the Deal with the Devil ends up being the last straw for Inkyrius, which leads to them filing for divorce because of V placing their studies and pursuit of arcane power over their family. V lets the divorce happen despite wanting to beg for forgiveness to spare them from further danger. Later on, V is shown longing for their ex-spouse and no doubt is lamenting their actions.
    • Tsukiko deconstructs Thinks Like a Romance Novel. While initially her power is enough to get by on Team Evil, her fundamental misunderstanding of what the Undead really are in their universe means she is defeated by a simple clerical spell taking control of her wights from her which she protests to her death as she honestly thinks they have enough free will to resist their new commands thanks to The Power of Love which they do not. She also sees herself as Xykon's Love Interest and thus more important than Redcloak, which also leads to her downfall (though Redcloak does also play up the role of subservient lackey for his purposes.)
  • Romantically Apocalyptic:
    • Snippy gradually deconstructs for the Only Sane Man. Initially, the comic treats him as a classic case of one; he's far more intelligent and rational than Captain and Pilot and is the only person to object to the insanity around him and make reasonable decisions. However, the comic deconstructs this by examining why he would want to be around them in the first place. The answer is that thanks to the apocalypse, there's no one else to hang out with and that Snippy is a deeply damaged, traumatized, and lonely man who has given Captain his Undying Loyalty because he was the first person to ever offer to be his friend. It's also shown that he's only stable compared to them; the second he runs into other, slightly more stable survivors, he immediately comes off as a gibbering loon in comparison, and some of the later arcs imply he suffers from hallucinations.
      • Snippy also deconstructs the Butt-Monkey and The Chew Toy archetypes so many comedies use. He always winds up being the butt of the joke and is constantly subject to misfortune, always receiving No Sympathy even from his friends and being subject to all kinds of ridicule and abuse by literally everyone else. The result is that he's become a grumpy, depressed cynic with low self-esteem, and it's hinted he joined a terrorist group just so he could lash out at the world in the past.
    • Pilot deconstructs the lovable Cloudcuckoolander Manchild archetype. Pilot's as goofy, eccentric, childish, and prone to odd beliefs as these characters usually are; however, here it's made clear this all stems from him being legitimately insane, and Pilot's eccentricities are a sign of how utterly delusional and detached from reality he is, and it's later revealed that his quirks are the results of severe brain damage.
    • Captain deconstructs the Wasteland Elder. Zee is the wise, respected leader of a small group of loyal followers… if you ask Captain. In reality, zee is an egotistical buffoon whose grasp on reality is tenuous on a good day and non-existent on a bad day, and zeer followers only stick around because they're either desperate for companionship, or just as insane. Putting that aside, however, Captain is legitimately skilled at surviving the wasteland, but zee is utterly terrible at communicating the information without coming across as a Jerkass or hopelessly insane.
  • Sonic the Comic – Online! deconstructs the Designated Hero and Jerk Sue tropes with Sonic. In the original Sonic the Comic, Sonic was a nasty prankster who frequently put down everyone for his amusement while still being the best hope for Mobius to defeat Dr. Robotnik. From the start of this comic, Sonic's friends have clearly reached their threshold for this behavior, and all it took was Grimer leaking Sonic's more morally ambiguous decisions to get all of Mobius to turn against him.
  • Sticky Dilly Buns: When she first appears, Ruby could be classed as The Ingenue; she's younger than most of the rest of the main cast, woefully naive (and at least one older figure has taken advantage of this in the past), virginal, and if not immune to sexual innuendo, certainly very bad at handling it. However, she's also petulant, arrogant, and insecure, and her "purity" is treated as both a symptom and a cause of emotional damage. She's also determined to succeed on her terms, and would probably be angry if anyone tried to play Prince Charming for her. Character Development eventually abrades away most of her naivety and some of her petulance, and she takes charge of disposing of her virginity for herself.
  • xkcd deconstructs the "friend-zoned" Dogged Nice Guy character in the strip "Friends," portraying the "nice guy" in question as an emotionally manipulative creep hoping to ingratiate himself into a relationship with the object of his affection by undermining her self-confidence and exploiting her loneliness. And in the end, the character doesn't get the girl precisely because the woman in question realizes how unpleasant he is.
  • Total Trauma: Seeing as the original show was an All-Stereotype Cast, this comic takes a more realistic approach to their characters and how those archetypes being played up on TV would affect their personal lives.
    • For Lindsay, it's the Dumb Blonde. While the trope was played straight on the show, it's shown to harm her as an adult seeking out employment opportunities, as they fear her past as a promiscuous ditzy teenage girl would look bad for their company. She is only seen as more mature after changing her look and renaming herself to escape her old identity. However, her memory issues and general confusion are recontextualized as dissociative problems, which are exacerbated by her newly fragmented identity. Her reputation as Ms. Fanservice and Chris's suggestive comments towards her on the show when she was sixteen are addressed as pedophilia, with this dissociation being part of why it was easy to take advantage of her.
    • Heather's reputation as Alpha Bitch is shown to cause her damage. Rather than being idolized for her rude nature and great looks as a teenager, she got tons of hate from both her audience and her peers, which resulted in her developing some serious self-image issues. She's also grown out of this attitude once she's in her twenties and has a better understanding of psychology.
    • Izzy's aggressive Cloud Cuckoolander attitude is because she's a Former Child Star who experienced and witnessed a lot of abuse- including on Total Drama itself, which is why she violently rejected Chef's alliance offer.
    • Duncan's arc takes a depressing look at what it's like to be a delinquent and spend most of your teen years in prison. He's unable to get a job because of his prison record, and his family is too ashamed to take him back, but he can't go to the homeless shelter or church because they turn away felons, and he has no money for any rehab programs. He ends up despondent and jumps in front of a truck.
  • Twisted Kaiju Theater deconstructs the Arch-Enemy through Tyrant. Tyrant's villainous relationship with Shin-Goji is practically a mental disorder and incredibly one-sided as Shin ignores him most of the time. His repeated battles with the Toxic Pirates result in him losing his job, his mooks abandoning him, and getting the crap kicked out of his time and time again. A part of the "Final Invasion" revolves around explaining why Tyrant keeps up with the self-destructive behavior and why he hates Shin so much.
  • Bastard: Jin is an unsettling deconstruction of the Chaste Hero. Episode 15 reveals that he doesn't know what sex is, how it's done, or what its purpose is, despite being in high school. When he innocently asks Kyun to explain porn to him, she asks him why he didn't learn about it in sex ed (he missed a class), on the Internet (he didn't know it could be viewed online), from his friends (he doesn't have any), and finally, from his parents, which triggers in him a panic attack when he recalls an instance in which he listened in on his father murdering a woman. Despite knowing all about a woman's "inner workings," Jin is completely naive in regard to sexuality, emphasizing how exposed he is to the evils of the world and how sheltered he is from the pleasures.
  • Las Lindas deconstructs the Unknown Rival through Alejandra. Alejandra's near-overwhelming desire to crush Mora into dust, when Mora herself doesn't care and is more worried about keeping her farm up and running, mostly just harms her mental state and her company's reputation and finances.
  • I Don't Want This Kind of Hero: Naga deconstructs Brilliant, but Lazy. Naga has zero ambition and generally does the average he needs to as a hero—something he occasionally gets called out on, and many people would rather make better use of his incredible powers. However, the question then is if being a Born Winner means that Naga should be denied the right to live his life, and Naga himself is annoyed at the people who claim he's doing nothing, given that being a superhero is already going beyond. He's helping people out regularly—why should that not be enough?
  • Paranatural: Mr. Spender deconstructs The Mentor. Spender's the adult supervisor for the Activity Club, and a very experienced Spectral, but he's also a man with some severe trauma, and every issue seems to add new layers onto how poor of a job he's doing as a mentor: his habit of withholding information leads to Isaac developing a serious grudge against him and later having Isabel and Ed get upset with him later on, his laser-focus on the future means he struggles to help his students with more mundane problems, the advice he can give when it comes to dealing with spirits is usually when the Club's in the middle of fighting said spirits, and the entire reason he started the Activity Club in the first place was partly to ease his own loneliness, something his spirit Lucifer calls him out on. It says a lot that the best moments of genuine mentorship from Spender come about when Hijack, a spirit who is literally three years old, possesses him.
  • Go Get a Roomie!: As the comic goes on, Roomie deconstructs the Hard-Drinking Party Girl. It's presented for fun at first, but later comics show off the downsides to such a lifestyle, the most obvious being Roomie's status as a full-blown alcoholic. She's forced to couch surf and mooch because she has such a drinking problem that she blew all her money on it, meaning she's effectively homeless. And then there's the disturbing fact that it led her to being sexually assaulted numerous times.

    Web Original 
  • Freeman's Mind deconstructs the Almighty Janitor through Gordon himself. Half-Life canon and Gordon's ramblings about managers imply that he's pretty low in the pecking order at Black Mesa, yet when disaster strikes he's the most competent person around and everyone ends up relying on him. But as the series goes on, Gordon grows increasingly frustrated with how the higher-ups and the G-Man throw him into more dangerous situations with no warning or context out of the expectation he'll survive and solve the problem, and lampshades how he doesn't want to be a One-Man Army but his only options in any given situation are "do everything [himself] or die".
  • The SCP Foundation is full of examples of this. The particular character type that seems to get deconstructed the most is the Reality Warper and other closely related tropes.
    • SCP-239 had to be put permanently into a coma because of problems her unconscious alteration of reality caused (though she can't fully be blamed since she's a child and Dr. Clef's suspicion of her ended up sparking the trouble in the first place.) SCP-76-2, an overpowered Blood Knight, got sealed away because the Foundation could not provide him with enough enemies to kill to keep him satisfied. SCP-056, a shapeshifter who turns into a better version of anything that looks at him is an Insufferable Genius that everybody hates. 532-D an extremely destructive Reality Warper who could only keep his powers under control while happy ended up abusing this fact to force women to have sex with him and was killed by Dr. Clef. Several other Reality Warper SCPs were also killed because they were too dangerous to keep around and not interesting enough to justify keeping them alive For Science!. One of the few Reality Warper SCPs who didn't get officially deconstructed is SCP-343, who refuses to do anything helpful but is otherwise cooperative enough to be classified as Safe. The Author Avatar responsible for killing these people have also been deconstructed in several tales, partly because they started to become too OP like themselves. All other characters with such traits that are not deconstructions are either Parody Sues, or have some other trait that cancels out their broken Traits, or otherwise are well written well enough to not be accused of being one.
    • There is also a collection of tales called the lolfoundation canon. It is an alternate reality where several workers of the Foundation gained reality warping powers but now see the world Through the Eyes of Madness. From their perspective, they are all too OP and everything is awesome and funny and nothing really bad ever happens, but in reality, they are unable to perceive any consequences of their actions, and those people who can properly perceive reality see them as a Mad God squad. When Dr. Clef realized what was going on, but was unable to do anything about it, being a poorly written character became And I Must Scream for him.
  • Cracked deconstructs Manic Pixie Dream Girl. The Dark Secret Behind Quirky Romantic Comedies shows the implications of the trope if taken to a logical conclusion.
  • The Entity from Atop the Fourth Wall deconstructs the lovecraftian Eldritch Abomination. If, as H. P. Lovecraft posits, the universe is infinite and all beings are insignificant, then the supposedly godlike beings would be the same as the Puny Humans in how little they ultimately matter. When the Entity realizes this, it reacts very poorly. If anything, it has it worse than humanity... its alien and all-consuming nature means that it cannot take any comfort in experiencing new things or in belonging to a community. In the end, all it can do to explore a new possibility for itself is die.
  • Hellsing Ultimate Abridged uses its take on Alucard to deconstruct the Jerk Sue. This version of Alucard lacks any sense of true loyalty to Integra and, as a result, can quite literally get away with anything he wants In-Universe. While people will complain, they won't do anything to stop him because nobody can. Integra shows just how infuriating and hate-inspiring such a character would be on several occasions. On the plus side, she does find ways to use his power/capriciousness to her advantage
  • The Nostalgia Critic deconstructs the Hate Sink through D-Bag. He's so easy to hate, and actually begs people to hate him, but Critic finds it so pointless to hate him because it takes more effort to be kind and find ways to relate to someone else.
  • Super Mario 64: CLASSIFIED deconstructs the Digital Abomination villain archetype from gaming Creepypastas. Stanley, the personalization AI (or "automatic enhancer") has the human intelligence, powers, and disturbing appearance of a typical villain, and was seemingly created for evil. However, the series shows that his malicious programming does not immediately translate to a malicious being, as a lot of his harmful actions are due to manipulations by an unknown Greater-Scope Villain and Power Incontinence, and underneath that shell is a burning hatred... directed at his creators who are delusional at best and misanthropic at worst. It's implied the self-conflict, guilt, and pain has turned him suicidal, and rather than being a generic Obviously Evil AI, he's a well-meaning person that wants to save everyone but will end up having to hurt innocents no matter what he does.
  • Dream SMP:
    • Schlatt deconstructs the Evil Overlord. After being elected as President of L'Manburg, Schlatt immediately banished Wilbur and Tommy and begins a campaign of imperialism, all the while kicking every dog in sight and abusing his underlings much like a typical Evil Overlord. It's made abundantly clear that Schlatt's behavior shoots him in the foot; by indulging in so much pointless cruelty, his allies either turn on him or keep him around because he's seen as a useful tool. Eventually, even Dream, his sole remaining ally, realizes that Schlatt's too much of a short-sighted fool to actually accomplish any of his objectives and cuts ties with him.
    • Dream, meanwhile, deconstructs being a Manipulative Bastard and The Chessmaster. His habit of Playing Both Sides and manipulating the people around him frequently nets him what he wants, but it gradually alienates him from his friends as it becomes clear that the reason he's so comfortable with manipulating people is because he is genuinely unable to see the people around him as anything but tools. By the end of Season 2, he's burned so many bridges that pretty much everyone realizes his true nature and he's imprisoned as punishment; the only reason he's not outright killed is because his knowledge of resurrection makes him too valuable to kill.


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