There is nothing more saddening than a story that gets an apathetic reaction. A story should influence and affect us. The storyteller wants to see their audience pay attention, hang on their words, and applaud with a standing ovation when it is all done.
Why do you think Superman has lasted so long as a character? It is a combination of escapism — you dream of doing what Superman is doing, flying around with a cape rustling behind you — and Wish Fulfillment — you dream of being able to help the world as much as he can.
Ancient myths also entranced the world. These stories have entire religions based upon them. Even today there are storytellers who have created their own devoted worshipers.
Because art isn't about making you feel good. It's about making you feel. Aristotle suggested, "A tragedy is the imitation of an action that is serious and also, as having magnitude, complete in itself ... with incidents arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish its catharsis of such emotions."
Catharsis is a concept that relieving your emotions in one format can influence other components of your psyche. It is a hard experience to describe; it isn't quite like joy or happiness, neither is there an emotion called "epic." The best way to describe your favorite moments is satisfaction. Here, we'll call it emotional torque.
Think a little about Fridge Logic and the Willing Suspension of Disbelief. They work and exist solely because we are caught up in the story. We should be so caught up in the moment of what is happening that we don't think about the illogical, the unhistorical or the faulty science.
Right beside this is going the distance required by the story. The story and characters have to do the needed actions to establish themselves and their use. The Butt-Monkey has to get beaten up, the villain has to do something villainous, etc. If there is a war going on and no one gets hurt, no blood gets spilled, and there isn't even a smudge of dirt on them, then it is rendered ineffective and gives the wrong impression. It's like a Jerk Ass that doesn't do one mean thing.
- Awesome Music
- Catharsis Factor
- Funny Moments
- Gut Punch
- Heartwarming Moments
- Moment of Awesome
- Nightmare Fuel
- Tear Jerker
These tropes are when the emotional reaction overrules more common sensibilities:
When the use of Emotional Torque fails to function as intended, or even at all, the following things tend to happen:
- Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy can result when the tone is not only too dark, but feels pointlessly dark.
- A dramatic moment devolves into Narm.
- Nightmare Retardant is a failure of Nightmare Fuel.
- Romantic Plot Tumor emerges from a romance.
- Wangst is what comes when The Woobie is felt to complain too much.