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Embarrassment Plot

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“A geek to the core, most of my childhood years were spent doing extra homework I requested. High school was more of the same. And then, it seemed as if my luck had changed. The cutest guy asked me to senior prom. But it turned out he invited me as a cruel joke, and I have never fully recovered. Yes, it is embarrassing to share this with the world, but it would be hard to explain what I learned or how I learned it without sharing this humiliating history.”
Josie, Never Been Kissed
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Lots of people have things they find embarrassing. This is the trope for when it takes up a significant portion of the plot.

Maybe the person has a hobby that they don't want people to find out about because they think that it's not "cool" enough, not tough enough, or too unorthodox, or not acceptable for people of their age or gender.

Maybe someone saw them doing something embarrassing, like walking in on them on the toilet, in the shower, while getting dressed, in the bath, having sex or maybe they were even Caught with Their Pants Down.

Maybe they're embarrassed about something they're scared of, because they think that they should be fearless, or only wusses should be afraid of what they are.

Maybe they're embarrassed about some aspect of their body such as puberty (or lack thereof), eye and/or hair colour, height, weight, lack of muscle, or size of breasts in women or size of penises in men.

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Or maybe they still do something perceived as immature, such as needing training wheels, sucking their thumb or wetting the bed.

But anyway, they're embarrassed, and it majorly impacts the plot. Maybe they're in a situation where the embarrassing thing is liable to happen (for example, someone who wets the bed or is afraid of the dark has to go to a sleepover, someone is invited to do something they're afraid of but don't want to admit, they were caught doing something embarrassing (possibly resulting in a photo or video of it spreading), or they have to buy something they find embarrassing.

And sometimes, they have an embarrassing secret that one person knows and threatens to tell.

Sometimes, they are trying to avoid other people seeing them doing something they find embarrassing, and will get more embarrassed if people ask questions when they notice that the person is acting awkward. Often, the person trying to hide the embarrassing thing or being embarrassed after being caught doing it will be stammering, making Freudian Slip's about the thing in question, or even wearing a disguise.

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Often, part of the reason they're embarrassed is because they think they are the only person (or only person in their family/school/class/etc) with the thing they find embarrassing. They will inevitably learn that they're not, often that the thing they find embarrassing is actually common.

To qualify as an Embarrassment Plot, it has to take up a significant amount of plot, not necessarily the whole plot, but a significant amount, or it has to be relevant. If a character is embarrassed for one scene that is only there as a joke, it's not an embarrassment episode. May lead to An Aesop about how being different is not a bad thing, or how embarrassment or the thing the character is embarrassed about is normal. Compare Fugitive Arc which, while not all that similar, may also cause shame. If one of the characters in the series is an Easily Embarrassed Youngster, expect one of these plots at least once.


Examples

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     Advertising 
  • Invoked in an ad for pads. A girl wants to be like her friends, so she pretends to get her period but her mother knows she's lying and punishes her by throwing an intentionally-embarrassing "First Moon Party".

     Anime and Manga 
  • In the first three episodes of Kill la Kill, Ryuko is embarrassed by the battle form that Senketsu turns into, which makes her unable to use it properly and uses up her energy quickly. This goes away at the end of the third episode when her wacky friend makes a Rousing Speech.
    • This actally ties into one of the themes of the anime, namely in girls wrestling with their sexuality and how others percieve them as they grow older. Ryuko's shame is contrasted against her rival Satsuki's, who even calls out Ryuko for being ashamed; after all, Satsuki believes her convictions and actions are pure. If she has to bare most of her body to do so, then so be it. This in turn along with the speech, gets Ryuko to overcome her embarassment

     Fan Works 
  • In Love Like This, which is a fanfiction of The X-Files, Mulder accidentally sees Scully naked and she gets so embarrassed she gets drunk to forget about it.

     Films: Live-Action 
  • One of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie adaptations, namely "The Long Haul", focuses on Greg accidentally getting a diaper on his hand at a ball pit and people putting it on the Internet as "Diaper Hands" and it going viral, and Greg's subsequent embarrassment.
  • In Never Been Kissed, Josie’s major motivation is to redeem her high school experience after being traumatized by the most popular guy in school, who pretended he was taking her to the prom but then threw eggs at her when he came to pick her up. When Josie does become popular and is even named prom queen, she sacrifices it to prevent another nerdy girl from being humiliated at prom. Josie then sets herself up for further embarrassment by writing about her entire experience in the Chicago Sun-Times and asking her teacher, Mr. Coulson, to meet her on the mound of a public baseball game to give her First Kiss. Had he not shown up, that would’ve been an even bigger embarrassment to live down.

     Literature 
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: In "Rodrick Rules", Rodrick threatens to blackmail Greg with an embarrassing secret about something that happened during summer. The thing turns out to be walking into the women's bathroom at the old folks' home and being mistaken for a "Peeping Tom".
  • Dirty Bertie:
    • In one chapter, Bertie tries to get out of going to the barber because the barber only does buzz cuts, which he finds embarrassing.
    • In "Pants!", Know-All Nick and Bertie have a bet which Bertie loses, so he has to go to school in his underwear. This is too embarrassing even for Bertie so he tries to get out of it.
  • Ellen Tebbits: Ellen and Austine met and became best friends because they were both getting changed in the broom cupboard due to their embarrassment about wearing woolen underwear, which they think is too old-fashioned. Ellen also has a moment of trying to awkwardly do ballet while her underwear was slipping.
  • Tag Dag focuses on the main character being embarrassed by shopping with his mother.
  • The Paul Jennings story Wunderpants focuses on the boy being embarrassed by his pink underwear with fairies on.

     Live-Action TV 
  • In one episode of Adventures in Wonderland, Alice accidentally splits her pants and becomes so embarrassed and offended by everyone else teasing her that she hides until they apologize.
  • This often happened to the kids on The Brady Bunch. Plots have dealt with Marcia's embarrassment about having braces, or Jan needing to wear glasses, or Bobby's height, or Greg's hair turning orange, or Peter not thinking he's interesting enough, or Cindy's lisp.
  • In How I Met Your Mother, the episode "Game Night" focuses on the gang finding an old tape of Barney singing to his ex-girlfriend, begging her to take him back. The only way they persuade him to tell the story behind the tape is by telling their most embarrassing stories.
  • iCarly: One episode focuses on Sam revealing that Freddie had never kissed anyone and Freddie getting so embarrassed from the teasing that he hides in the fire escape all day and misses doing iCarly. It is resolved by Sam admitting to never having kissed anyone before either.
  • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide: The aptly-named episode "Guide to Embarrassment" Ned goes through a series of embarrassing events during the day, namely farting in class, spraying his pants with the water fountain, talking to Suzy with food and his teeth and his fly down, and then burping in class. Meanwhile, Moze keeps embarrassing herself while trying to talk to Faymen, the foreign-exchange student she likes. The episode ends with Ned saying that everyone does embarrassing things after he proceeds to defend Suzy when she ends up embarrassing herself in class and leading the rest of their classmates in doing the same while Faymen admitting to being embarrassed because of his poor English.
  • Sesame Street:
    • The episode "Baby Bear's Baby Doll" focuses on Baby Bear being embarrassed about his baby doll around Telly because he thinks dolls are for girls.
    • One "Abby's Flying Fairy School" skit focuses on Blogg the troll/fairy hybrid visiting a troll city and being embarrassed about his wings.
  • In the Sabrina the Teenage Witch episode "Boy Was My Face Red", Sabrina casts a spell to get rid of Valerie's embarrassment and it boomerangs onto her instead, resulting in her farting during a class presentation.

     Magazines 
  • Girl Power has a section called the "Whoops Corner", where readers send in embarrassing mistakes they made.

     Western Animation 
  • Several episodes of Arthur:
    • In "All Thumbs", Arthur catches Buster sucking his thumb, which embarrasses them both.
    • In "Jenna's Bedtime Blues", Jenna is embarrassed to go to a sleepover because she wets the bed.
    • In "Vomitrocious", Francine throws up and is embarrassed when she goes back to school.
    • In "That's a Baby Show", Arthur is embarrassed to admit that he likes a show called "Love Ducks" because he thinks it's babyish.
    • In "Revenge of the Chip", D.W. doesn't want the town to find out about when she thought green potato chips would kill her (in the previous episode "The Chips are Down") because she finds it embarrassing.
    • Defied in "The Secret About Secrets". D.W. knows that James split his pants, but she has to keep it a secret to avoid embarrassing him.
    • In "Arthur Meets Mr Rogers", Arthur is embarrassed because Mr Rogers is staying with him and he thinks his show is babyish.
    • "Night Fright" focuses on Binky being embarrassed to admit he's afraid of the dark and uses a nightlight.
    • In "Arthur Unravels", Arthur is embarrassed to admit he likes knitting.
    • In "I Wanna Hold Your Hand", Binky is embarrassed because he thinks George saw him Holding Hands with his mother and is worried that he'll be seen as babyish.
  • One episode of As Told by Ginger has the latter half reveal that Courtney Gripling has lice, around the time Dodie has become reader of the announcements. Dodie wants to read out the list of people who have the lice and claims that it's because the students "have a right to know", but her own private words reveal she wants to do it because it'll make her look good. Ginger is not happy to learn this and she proceeds to actually run and disconnect the mike before Dodie could say the name.
  • Generation O!: In "Damp Sheets", a mean guy finds out that Molly wet the bed once and embarrasses her by threatening to tell everyone in town.
  • The Hey Arnold! episode "Phoebe's Little Problem" focuses on Phoebe farting into a microphone at school assembly and being too embarrassed to go back to school after being teased. She eventually plucks up the courage, not only to go back to school, but to call everybody out. Harold then gets embarrassed himself because he wet his pants from laughing at Phoebe.
  • Kim Possible: In the episode "Blush", Drakkon tries to destroy Kim using the pollen of a rare flower that makes her fade whenever she's embarrassed. Ron goes to get the cure because he is better at not getting embarrassed than Kim, and puts her in quarantine. However, she escapes, goes on a date and becomes embarrassed by lots of things, almost to the point of completely disappearing.
  • Martha Speaks:
    • In "Alice Twinkle Toes", Alice wants to do ballet, but she is embarrassed to admit it because she is clumsy and feels people would think it's ridiculous the idea of a clumsy dancer.
    • In "Martha Fails the Course", Martha is embarrassed by failing an agility course and doesn't want to walk for fear of falling over and being laughed at.
    • In "Martha and Truman Get Lost", the reason they got lost was because they were looking for something of Truman's that he was too embarrassed to specify. Turns out to be his lucky rock.
    • In "Carolina Tackles Football", Carolina likes American football but is embarrassed because she thinks it's not for girls... even though Helen and Alice play it.
    • "Martha Gives Advice" has a sub-plot of Helen being embarrassed about her clothes.
  • Milly Molly: "Ride to School Day" focuses on Molly learning to ride a bike without training wheels but being embarrassed about falling over on her bike.
  • Milo: The episode "Shame" focuses on Milo's titular shame from wetting his pants at school.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In the Season 8 episode "Molt Down", Spike the dragon is going through a developmental dragon phase that involves itchy red scales, fire burping, random voice pitch changing and smelling bad. Among other things, he finds it embarrassing.
    • Way back in Season 2, "Read It and Weep", Rainbow Dash takes up reading in the hospital while recovering from an accident and discovers a passion in reading (at least Daring Do anyway.) She is quite embarassed about people finding out because she doesn't wanna others teasing her for being an "egghead." Of course, none of the others do.
    • In "Newbie Dash", Rainbow Dash has finally achieved her dream of being a Wonderbolt, but during practice, goes through an accident and gets the embarassing moniker "Rainbow Crash." Problem is that the name was also the insult her schoolyard bullies would tell her. Rainbow Dash goes through various lengths to try and get a different nickname before the others reveal that everyone has an embarassing nickname (with Spitfire's apparently being very embarassing.)
  • Peg + Cat has "The Roxanne Problem" where Cat is embarrassed because his Implied Love Interest Roxanne overheard Peg counting by twos and thought it was him. Being a math geek, Roxanne was impressed, so Cat doesn't want to admit that he doesn't actually know math or sound like Peg.
  • Pororo the Little Penguin: In "I am Not a Bed-Wetter", Pororo is embarrassed because he wet the bed after telling Crong off for wetting the bed the previous night.
  • What's with Andy?: In "101 Underpants", Andy loses his pants and gets embarrassed, so he decides to get revenge on the people who laughed at him by pantsing them, then extends it to everyone because he's the Prince of Pranksters. However, he makes an exception for Lori Mackney.

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