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 Jerkass that doesn't do one mean thing.
These tropes are Tropers trying to catalog their emotional reactions:
- Awesome Moments
- Catharsis Factor
- Funny Moments
- Gut Punch
- Hate Sink
- Heartwarming Moments
- Nausea Fuel
- Nightmare Fuel
- Shocking Moments
- Tear Jerker
These are variations of Playing with a Trope regarding the emotional tone that a trope is used for:
These tropes are when the emotional reaction overrules more common sensibilities:
- Rule of Cool
- Rule of Cute
- Rule of Drama
- Rule of Fun
- Rule of Funny
- Rule of Romantic
- Rule of Scary
- Rule of Sexy
When the use of Emotional Torque fails to function as intended, or even at all, the following things tend to happen:
- Angst Aversion happens when the work is too depressing or upsetting for viewers to tolerate.
- Glurge is the result of a work which attempts to deliver an inspirational message, but the message is incompetently handled such that it falls apart when subjected to any meaningful critical thinking.
- Narm is when a dramatic moment that's intended to be serious instead devolves into being accidentally humorous instead.
- Romantic Plot Tumor emerges from a poorly-written romance.
- Shock Fatigue happens when a work tries too hard to be shocking, to the point that the audience begins to expect the shocks.