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Fallacy of Division

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"The whole is greater than the sum of its parts."
Aristotle, averting the fallacy.

Fallacy of Division:

Generalizing from a whole to the parts.

A colony of ants can destroy a tree.
Therefore, this ant can destroy that tree.

Opposite of the Fallacy of Composition, which it is argued that a whole necessarily inherits traits from its parts.


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    Comic Books 
  • This was responsible for The Dark Age of Comic Books. Watchmen and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns were dark, edgy, and had a lot of moral ambiguity, and they were widely praised and treated as classics. So dark, edgy things are automatically good, even in the absence of intelligent, thoughtful plots and well-rounded characters, right?

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 

    Live-Action TV 
  • Spinoffs are frequently based on such logic. When a Long Runner wraps, producers often try to build a new series around one or more characters.
    • The supposed Seinfeld curse is a classic example disproving this fallacy.
    • Joey: A spin-off of Friends that flopped horribly. Apparently the developers fell afoul of this fallacy.
    • There are some notable aversions of this as well. Frasier matched its predecessor's run and won a ton of Emmys and acclaim. The Jeffersons ran longer than its predecssor. NCIS has run longer than JAG and now has spawned two spinoffs of its own.
  • "Hey, MythBusters is popular, and it has explosions in just about every episode! Let's make a show centered around Stuff Blowing Up!" Leads to a great deal of Follow the Leader behavior. For any successful premise, particularly in cheap-to-produce game shows and reality shows, expect to see numerous imitators.
  • M*A*S*H:
    • Subverted in the episode "Rumor at the Top" in which the gang thought the Army was planning to send one of them to a new M*A*S*H being set up because the 4077th was so efficient. However, it turned out that the Army was planning no such thing as they realized that the 4077th only worked so well because of the combination of people.
    • Applied full-force to the M*A*S*H television franchise itself, which had two unsuccessful spinoffs - AfterMASH and W*A*L*T*E*R — that, for the most part, banked on the popularity of the second-tier cast and connections to the parent show itself. A third, Trapper John, M.D., was more successful than the other two, but did not include any of the original actors and was legally recognized as a spinoff of the movie.

  • Many side-projects and solo works made by musicians who are/were part of bands that have already established a popular reputation can fall into this when they don't live up to the glory of their other/former, more popular band. i.e. Sid Vicious' solo project and Billy Corgan's band Zwan.'

    Pro Wrestling 
  • This trope's application is a sure sign that any given promotion or region's tag teams and or trios have become devalued. Thankfully, as pro wrestling is a long game, it isn't too hard to fix.
  • Billy Gunn and the Road Dogg Jessie James, two jobbers who could basically only beat each other as individuals. As a tag team they were the ultra successful New Age Outlaws.
  • SHIMMER had an amusing example. Mercedes Martinez was known for beating Lacey whenever she could get her one on one in WXW and IWA Mid-South, while Rain put up a valiant effort(for her standards) against Sara Del Rey, she was so physically outclassed Rain couldn't even walk after their match was finished, having to crawl out of the arena. So what happens when Martinez and Del Rey take on the Minnesota Home Wrecking Crew Together? Rain and Lacey win. Before the match Lacey laughed at the idea of Martinez and Del Rey teaming up.
  • As individuals, ACH, TaDarius Thomas, Caprice Coleman and Cedric Alexander were slightly better than Ring of Honor's jobbers. As the tag teams Adrenaline Rush and the C&C Wrestle Factory, they were much better but still noticeably behind the main ROH teams. All four together were able to handily beat an equal number of their usually higher ranked opponents at Death Before Dishonor XI however. Sadly, baby faces rarely do super stables so this didn't last.
  • In WWE, The Shield were nigh unstoppable as a unit, no matter how many main event wrestlers were thrown their way. Brothers Of Destruction\Team Hell No? Not enough. But give one of them to Daniel Bryan or The Undertaker? It is only somewhat competitive with Bryan/Taker winning handily. Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns did eventually become main eventers in their own right though...eventually.
  • After TK O'Ryan was inducted into The Kingdom they never lost a match he was involved in. On the other hand, O'Ryan proved unable to win any matches in ROH when he wasn't working with the rest of The Kingdom. Matt Taven and Vinny Marseglia would go on to lose to two on two to combinations of teams they beat three on three with O'Ryan after his leg was broken on the fifteenth anniversary show.

    Real Life 
  • The underlying logic of stereotypes: personality Z is associated with group A, you are a member of group A, so you have personality Z.
  • Happens in sports all the time. It's almost guaranteed that some starter from a championship team, regardless of how much they contributed to the actual championship, will land a huge contract that next off-season.
    • One cliched sports saying is "a champion team will beat a team of champions".
    • In tennis, it is rare for two top-ranked singles players to be as successful as a doubles combination, and vice versa.
  • Can be a problem in social justice discussions. Just because Group A is more powerful and wealthy than Group B, does not necessarily mean each and every individual member of Group A is more powerful and wealthy than every individual in Group B.


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