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Immune to Slapstick

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There are some characters who just won't be part of the gag. They won't indignify themselves with zany acting, they won't take a pratfall on that banana peel on the floor and generally avoid doing anything clownish or potentially humiliating.

Not all characters are comedic. The Stoic Anti-Hero certainly can't be seen indignifying himself in the wacky antics of the heroes, while that new more sinister Big Bad likely isn't going to fall victim to a comedic Humiliation Conga like the previous Harmless Villain did.

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As such, whenever the scene gets a bit Denser and Wackier, such a character disappears, not to be seen until the mood gets a little darker.

Alternatively the character may still appear but generally doesn't involve himself in the antics of those around him. This is particularly prominent with another character type, usually The Fool or The Ace, who can be comical, however manage to always avoid the same slapstick pain and humiliation as almost everyone around them. Such an event is usually always Played for Laughs, and usually at the expense of those who aren't so immune.

Female characters were often prone to this, due to wariness to placing them in violent situations and still having the same comedic value, though as of recently, some works have become braver and shown Slapstick Knows No Gender.

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Contrast The Comically Serious, a character that is normally dignified, but only to make their eventual fall to a gag more effective and Only Sane Man where a character is the only one to actually recognise how absurd everyone else's behaviour is and/or how insane the situation they are all in is. Also compare Shoo Out the Clowns, when a comedic character disappears when the story gets more serious. Compare Bulletproof Fashion Plate, where a character does go through the abuse, but still comes out smelling like a rose.


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Examples

Anime & Manga

  • Robin in One Piece to some degree. Although she doesn't balk at partying and laughing with her crewmates, she's the only member of the Straw Hat crew that never gets Super-Deformed and is never targetted by a gag.
  • Meta Knight in Kirby of the Stars to an an extent. Though he does have moments as The Comically Serious he usually stays out of the lighthearted scenes in Papupu Village, only appearing when required to battle a threat to the village.
  • Kai of the Beyblade anime series (being The Stoic Anti-Hero of the team) rarely took part in comedic moments, usually acting as a bemused audience or leaving to do his own thing. Rei/Ray, though more jovial, usually only had a handful of cartoony moments per series as well.
  • The super-serious Stoic Signum and the Wolf Man Zafira are among the few members of Lyrical Nanoha cast who rarely appear in comedic sequences and even when they do, it's usually in a Deadpan Snarker way.
  • Played with in the Pokémon anime. While the hero cast aren't immune to cartoon injuries, a lot of suspense in the show is reliant on their supposed inability to perform the same Toon Physics as Team Rocket. One episode had the trio fall down a cliff in a manner reminiscent of a Road Runner cartoon, Ash even comments on this like he expects them to return fine and dandy later on. When one of the protagonists almost did the same seconds after, it was totally Played for Drama. For extra insult she even suffered a Thundershock from a random Pokemon while clinging for her life, again completely dramaticallynote . Subverted utterly and completely in Sun and Moon: The Series where practically every main character falls victim to slapstick or Super-Deformed antics due to the more comical nature of the era.
  • Ranma ½: The two elder Tendo sisters often come through the most insane of occurrences with hardly a scratch, though for very different reasons. For Kasumi it's that she's such a Nice Girl that there seems to be an unspoken taboo for harming her. Even when she gets taken over by an oni that can only be removed by knocking her unconscious, no one can bring themselves to do it, and so endure the "evil" actions she commits while possessed. For Nabiki it's often that she's manipulating the participants and has been known to sow wanton destruction simply for her own entertainment, and so makes a point to be somewhere else when the violence starts, thus never paying the price for her actions.
  • In the 90's anime of Sailor Moon, the Outer Senshi (Uranus, Neptune, Pluto and Saturn) are a lot more dignified and sophisticated than the Inners. The Outers don't Face Fault, or Sweat Drop or have Wild Take reactions like the Inners. Is not quite the case in the original manga and, to a lesser extent, Sailor Moon Crystal.
  • Mon Colle Knights has Hanazono no Utahimenote  and the angels, among others. None of these characters display any kind of comical motions or facial expressions. Zaha and Reda in particular are genuinely dangerous people because of this.
  • Gintama: Particularly serious Arc Vilain, often doubling as Knight of Cerebus, tend to be imune to comedic situations. Exemples include Hosen, Jiraya, Oboro.
    • Takasugi was this for a long time, to keep him a intimidating vilain and potential Big Bad, but after a while he did start to have some light comedic moments as well, though he is still never the Butt-Monkey.
    • Generaly speaking, while most characters in this serie, even the relatively serious ones get involved into comedic situations, some benefits from a downplayed version of this trope by never being on the receiving end and ridiculing themselves far less than the average Gintama character. Okita was never the butt monkey in the early years of the manga, though it happen to him from time to time now. Tsukuyo have some comedic moment, but even her reccuring gag of being of bein a mean drunk tend to put other characters, mainly Gintoki, more than herself into embarassing situations. And Nobume lose her comedic traits after the death of Isaburo.

ComicBooks

  • Word of God explains this as the reason the female grey spy of Spy vs. Spy comics always won in her appearances, since Antonio Prohias was unwilling to put a female character in the same slapstick brutality as the male spies. The character was retired for a long period of time since the inability to place her in physical humour made her boring.
  • In The Castafiore Emerald by Hergé, one step in the marble staircase at Marlinspike Hall is broken, and every main character in the story seems to make a pratfall because of this (Captain Haddock even injures his foot), except for Bianca Castafiore, who never falls despite walking around in high heels all the time.

Film

Literature

  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld series of novels. The Guild of Fools, Joculators, Clowns, Buffoons, Minstrels and Mime Artists in Ankh-Morpork specialises in physical comedy. pratfalls, tumbles, amusing escapades with custard pies, buckets of water and joke flowers that squirt liquid are their stock-in trade. But one Clown never, ever, lands in the middle of the pies or buckets or general pratfalling. In a funny sort of way, he is Ground Zero. But Ground Zero from the point of view of the nuke. Doctor Whiteface, the stern, austere and utterly joyless Head of the Guild, is above that sort of thing. He walks unscathed through the circus ring whilst physical humour happens to other people.
    • Enforced with Lord Vetinari, enlightened tyrant and ruler of Ankh-Morpork: in one book, a character sees a custard pie flying toward him and realises that if it hits him and destroys his dignity, nothing and no one is safe, so he dives in the way and cops it himself.

Theatre

Video Games

  • BlazBlue has Hakumen play this, being a character entirely defined by his seriousness. For example, the first game only had him in a single scene in Tager's humorous route, but even then is not involved with any of the comedy. Continuum Shift expands this further by denying him an entire gag route just because of his seriousness. Ironically, he's an alternate version of Jin from another timeline, and he is used fairly often in several gag routes.
  • Shadow of Sonic the Hedgehog for the large part upkeeps a Darker and Edgier tone and rarely engages in highly comical moments. This actually became a hinderance during his inclusion in the sitcom heavy Sonic Boom, as writers stated they had trouble utilising him without turning him into a joke. His Archie comic counterpart will subvert it every now and then however.

Web Comics

  • El Goonish Shive NP (NewsPaper) edition's "Oblivious Hand-Waving" arc, in which Tedd buys a magic wand that randomly warps reality.
    • In one of the strips Susan is shown reading and totally unaffected by the weird goings-on (she was originally supposed to have turned part-armadillo) because of her serious nature.
    • In this strip Adrian Raven tries to resist the weirdness but fails: he ends up being turned into a woman.
  • During To Boldly Flee, Mechakara (Linkara's evil robot duplicate), did not engage in any of the wacky antics or zaniness of the show. In commentary, Linkara stated that Mechakara was one of his most menacing, most serious antagonists, and so he felt that it would be out of character for him to be the butt of jokes. He had a few moments of being The Comically Serious or forcing slapstick onto OTHER characters, however.

Western Animation

  • Early on, The Amazing World of Gumball exempted most of the female cast from its copious painful physical humor. For example, the episode "The Pressure" is about a group or boy and a group of girl (plus Leslie): the boys' scenes including things like skateboarding into a car door and getting crushed under a tree, while the humor of the female group is all dialogue-based. A few seasons later, Slapstick Knows No Gender is fully in effect. The difference can perhaps best be seen by contrasting Teri's roles in "The Virus" (second season) and "The Advice" (fourth season). Despite having a major role in the earlier episode, she suffers no physical injury, and when she appears to be decapitated, the other characters react as if she died. Her minor role in the latter episode involves being torn in half twice.
  • Scenes in The Dreamstone taking place in the Land Of Dreams give something of a slight Mood Whiplash against those in Viltheed, due to the heroes' usual avoidance of slapstick violence or cartoony Wild Takes. The Noops at least may suffer the odd non deformed pratfall every now and then, albeit for every dozen or so times the Urpneys get comically squashed, fried and beaten to a pulp.
  • Even Looney Tunes, the quintessential slapstick cartoon series, has examples of such:
    • A key criticism towards Lola Bunny in her debut in Space Jam, who despite being boosted a new leading character to the franchise, played very little part in the cartoony antics of the original cast (to the point even some of the live action characters fall victim to squash and stretch slapstick more than she does). The one instance she is put at harm by one of the Monstars, it is Played for Drama and averted by Bugs performing a Heroic Sacrifice. The character was revised for The Looney Tunes Show, with the character having a more abrasive personality, albeit still mostly in a dialogue centric sense.
    • Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner. The Road Runner is one of the few regulars to never be the butt of a gag. While most Looney Tunes protagonists are more frequently dishing out slapstick abuse than taking it, they at least have some exceptional cases. The Road Runner's most distinguishing wacky characteristic was holding up a sign reading his opinions.
  • Thomas the Tank Engine (and The Railway Series novels they were based on)
    • Older and Wiser engines such as Edward and Toby were initially depicted as far more experienced and competent than the other more arrogant or childish engines, rarely causing accidents or getting into standard unusual predicaments (Toby's first appearance even notes he hasn't had an accident in years). As the show became more Aesop-centric, the cast was rewritten to have more equal shortcomings, leading most of said engines to get into scrapes of their own.
    • Gordon boasted being this in "Off The Rails", having never had a true accident, but was only Tempting Fate.


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