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Informed Flaw

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"What do you mean, you don't belong? You're incredible! You see better than how most people can see! In fact, are you even blind?"
The Nostalgia Critic responding to Garrett's refusal to return to Camelot in Quest for Camelot

Much like the Informed Ability, an Informed Flaw is a Fatal Flaw that simply doesn't have any real effect on the event or character. It can come up in one of two forms:

  1. The narrative tells us about a flaw, whether it be through a character, the narration, or some other source. The flaw then doesn't materialize and nobody would have ever thought of it if the segment describing said flaw was removed.
  2. Alternatively, the flaw in question might be showcased as an Establishing Character Moment. After their first scene (where it will usually be pretty contrived and blunt), it will evaporate for the rest of the work. Think Compressed Vice, only compressed to a single scene and not given any natural resolution.

In either case, the defining part is the total abandonment of the flaw after its introduction, with it playing no role and thus having no importance. Often, it comes about because a character is decided to be too unrealistic, so they add in a token flaw or two to add some flavor. Other times, it's just to pad out some of the length. However, most of the time, it's a result of careless rewrites.

Infallible Babble ensures that it's never a case where the characters talking about the flaw are misinformed, or spiteful.

Disabilities, especially milder, inconsistent or not readily visible disabilities, very often turn into informed flaws. They are milked for Angst at various moments, without interfering with the character's ability to do the things the plot expects them to do.

Remember that Tropes Are Tools — many examples on the page are negative, but that does not make the trope negative in nature. (See Playing with a Trope.) A common variation that is NOT the result of poor writing is where the character believes that they have a flaw (e.g. a big nose) because of, say, past teasing or bullying, but to any viewer, it is obvious that such a flaw is nonexistent.

A Sub-Trope of Informed Attribute and Show, Don't Tell, and a Super-Trope of Hollywood Homely, Hollywood Pudgy, Allegedly Dateless, Gorgeous Gorgon, Informed Loner, Tin Man, and Designated Villain. Can cover Urban Legend Love Life when the character's romantic/sexual tendencies are portrayed as a flaw. Related to Informed Ability. Contrast with I Am Not Left-Handed, Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass, and Obfuscating Stupidity.

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Other examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • 7 Seeds: Hana has difficulty connecting with other people. She never made friends beyond Arashi before coming to the future. She's a loner, who just plain can't make friends because of her headstrong, stubborn nature. This gets claimed repeatedly by Hana herself and Arashi when the series shows the complete opposite. Hana seems to quickly connect with Fujiko and Chisa and hangs out with them frequently, several guys end up crushing on her, and her headstrong, stubborn personality is something that the members of the other Teams often mention to be an impressive quality about her. Only two people seem to heavily dislike her — Ango and Ryo. And Ango is implied to find her annoying because the two of them are too similar in their stubbornness, while also finding her stubbornness to be attractive, and Ryo dislikes her simply because her presence annoys Ango.
  • Yomi of Azumanga Daioh is frequently seen trying to lose weight and being called fat by Tomo, even though she doesn't really look heavy at all. However, this could simply be Tomo being a jerk and Yomi taking her more seriously than she should, since no one else calls her fat.
  • Berserk (2016) falls into this largely by way of Adaptation Explanation Extrication: there's a scene where the smith Godot gives Guts a very thorough dressing-down, talking about how his quest for revenge is destroying him and turning him into a violent monster who doesn't care about the people he loves. The thing is, at this time in the anime, Guts hasn't really done anything that particularly shows this; he's a jerk who's not fond of authority, but that's about as far as it goes. This is due largely to the anime skipping over as much of the Black Swordsman and Lost Children arcs as possible—the arcs that showed Guts doing things like taking an innocent girl hostage or kicking a disabled man in the face and calling him ugly, which made Godot's disgust at Guts's current attitudes entirely warranted.
  • In Code Geass, the second season once shows the Black Knights ranked by statistics, and Tamaki is dead last with the lowest possible ratings in each area, including loyalty. His low loyalty score becomes especially strange when you consider that he's the least willing to believe Schniezel's accusations against Zero and shows more loyalty than basically every other Black Knight besides Kallen (who took Zero's side until he pulled a Shoo the Dog on her) and Kaguya (who was away at the time) did.
  • Death Note: Matsuda is well-known for being an idiot, but this isn't really that evident. While he does tend to goof off and isn't the brightest guy around, he's clearly competent enough to be on the task force. Plus, you can't help but look slow when you're in the same events as Light and L. If you watch any scene where the task force discusses their next move, Matsuda will usually raise at least one good point. He also level grinds in competence during A Day in the Limelight, where he manages to infiltrate Yotsuba, discover where a secret meeting is taking place, and narrow down the list of suspects from hundreds to eight. Then when caught, he plays one fast game of Xanatos Speed Chess, using an alias he's barely familiar with, and fakes his own death without showing fear or breaking character. And of course, he tops himself in the final episode.
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: During the curse-induced dreams the heroes have against the Lower Rank One fight, Zenitsu appears with an exaggerated overbite in Kyojuro and Inosuke's dreams, which is not so much as hinted at in his usual character design. A volume extra has the author confirm that Zenitsu has an overbite, but it never materializes outside of this brief caricature.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • It's claimed that becoming a Super Saiyan causes the user to be consumed with murderous Unstoppable Rage, making it almost a Superpowered Evil Side. It's even introduced by Goku telling Gohan that he might kill him if Gohan doesn't run for it. But after that point, Goku pretty much just acts like he always does in a fight, if maybe a bit more seriously. In fact, mere in-universe minutes later, he sits back and allows Frieza to reach his maximum power (ostensibly to humiliate him), and not long after that, goes so far as to give some of his energy to Frieza so that he can leave the planet safely — he doesn't go for the killing blow until Frieza attempts to kill him even after that. After that point, he can enter and leave the form basically whenever he wants, and it changes his personality very little, if at all. The idea did resurface, however, for Gohan's initial transformation into Super Saiyan 2, which had Gohan acting significantly different and considerably more murderous.
    • The end of the Cell Saga has Goku declare that he wants to stay dead because he believes himself to be a Doom Magnet who keeps attracting trouble. But pretty much the only time a villain has arrived unbidden for reasons relating to Goku is in the case of Raditz, who was his brother. Every other time, it was a case of either the villains having an evil agenda from the get-go and Goku getting involved to stop them, or it was the villains delaying their evil agenda and wanting revenge on Goku because he interfered in their initially-unrelated scheme. The intended idea is that Goku is a Destructive Savior whose presence creates more problems than he solves, but the fact is, even in the cases where Goku did create a problem by provoking the vengeance of the villains, those villains would have still been a threat to Earth either way. In fact, a major plot point at the beginning of the Android Saga was that, without Goku who died of heart disease in the original timeline, the androids steamrolled the rest of the Z-Fighters and triggered a Bad Future — Trunks' plan to Set Right What Once Went Wrong explicitly involved bringing heart medicine to Goku so he'd be alive to fight them off, meaning that if anything Goku should have had the exact opposite idea than what he had at the end of the Cell Saga. Ironically, Goku is right that he's technically responsible for the events of the arc—but it had nothing to do with him being a Doom Magnet, and everything to do with him deliberately refusing to attack or investigate Gero until his scheme was well underway, which is never called out in any significant capacity.
    • By a similar count, Goku suggests multiple times that his presence is causing the other good guys to not realize their full potential when he's always around to save them, which is another motivating factor behind him leaving. But again, if anything, the opposite is true. Goku's interactions with other characters have consistently resulted in them becoming much more powerful, whether by training with him or using him as a benchmark to be surpassed; though they invariably Can't Catch Up to him, many of them were in far lower places, both as fighters and as people, when he first met them (and many were outright villains). Meanwhile, when Goku leaves at the end of the Buu Saga, nearly all of his friends slack off to the point of giving up on fighting altogether, showing no real advancements in power or actively backsliding.
  • Musashi's kicks in Eyeshield 21 are supposedly powerful with the drawback that he isn't entirely accurate. Yet he never missed a single kick in these sports (apart from a flashback where Shin had directly blocked it). Even his rival Kotaro, who is known for his 100% accuracy instead of power, misses a pivotal kick.
  • In Great Pretender, both Makoto and Laurent have a notable one:
    • Makoto has his English skills. At the very beginning of the series, before it switches to using Translation Convention, it's shown that Makoto's English is stilted and heavily accented. However, after the series switches to being translated for the audience's benefit, several characters comment on the quality of his English—without him sounding any different to the audience. It's even implied that his English improves over the series, but the audience never hears his improved English.
    • Laurent has his pervertedness. According to the other members of Team Confidence (especially Abbie), he's a relentless skirt-chaser and horndog who's prone to making sex-motivated decisions. In actual behavior, aside from having a rather flirty way of speaking, he's always professional and is never openly Distracted by the Sexy. He does seem to have fewer inhibitions around the topic of sex, down to being entirely comfortable chatting with his compatriots while naked, but he's never as bad as Abbie implies.
  • In HeartCatch Pretty Cure!, Tsubomi is saddled with the derogatory nickname "The Weakest Pretty Cure in History" due to her poor showing in her first battle. While she's quite poor up until episode 4, after that, she's actually pretty good. If anything, that nickname should have been saddled with Hime of HappinessCharge Pretty Cure!, who spends over half the series in this position.
  • The Hero Reborn as the Daughter of Heroes Aims to Become a Hero Again: Nicole is repeatedly described as being physically weak and frail, but the only time this is really demonstrated is when she is too weak to lift the sword that all of her fellow students have no problem with, which is immediately negated by the fact that she is immediately given a lighter sword, which she is highly adept with to the point where one wonders why the standard swords are so much heavier for no appreciable advantage. Not only can she hold her own in a fight just fine, but getting slashed in the limbs is barely an inconvenience. Moreover, one of her three Gifts is the ability to increase the physical strength of anyone she chooses, and so far there is nothing to indicate that she couldn’t target herself if she really needed it.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable: Josuke is afraid of turtles. You only hear of this in the beginning when first introduced to him, where he is initially a little tentative about helping a turtle he found.
  • In Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, Kanna is stated to have been kicked out of the dragon world due to being mischievous and prone to acting out. She's very well-behaved every time we see her. However, this is justified given that the stated reason for her acting out was because her parents ignored her. Since Kobayashi and Tohru both give her lots of attention, she doesn't have a need to misbehave.
  • In My Hero Academia, a case can be made for Midoriya's poor performance on the Quirk Apprehension Test. While it's obvious that proper use of a quirk that's well-suited to the task can enable someone to do several times better than a normal person, Midoriya places last on the test despite having one of the best scores in the ball-throwing contest and having spent months training to learn to use One For All. Even though some of his classmates' quirks wouldn't seem all that useful (for example, Koda can communicate with animals, but he places eleventh out of twenty), everyone else still places ahead of him. The anime offers a Hand Wave for this, with Midoriya saying that after he broke his finger on the ball test, he was too badly injured to do well in the subsequent events.
  • Naruto:
    • Sakura is teased for having a large forehead, yet she's not usually drawn with a forehead any bigger than the other characters. That said, it's indicated that the allegedly large forehead is less of a problem than Sakura's insecurity over it, which she starts to get over after becoming friends with Ino.
    • Tsunade's Mitotic Regeneration Technique (which she uses on several occasions — the battle of the Sannin, Pain's invasion, and the final battle) is said to shorten her lifespan. She's still alive in the series epilogue, which takes place around 15 years after the final arc, and there's no indication that she's in poor health. She'd be around 70. Though her mix of Uzumaki/Senju blood from her grandparents may have helped boost her resilience and lifeforce.
  • One Piece: If a Devil Fruit user eats a second Fruit, they will not just die, they will explode. At least that's what Blueno claims. Thing is, there's as many things contradicting this as there is confirming it. For starters, it's never happened onscreen and nobody can relate the names of anyone who has done this. Not to mention, Blackbeard does indeed have the powers of two Fruits, having stolen one from Whitebeard, an exception that immediately strikes some witnesses as something that shouldn't have happened. However, while Blackbeard is the only one to have two and lived, nobody can claim to have witnessed an event where a user has exploded as a result of trying it. (Likely, few are willing to test it). Jabra seems to know someone who knows someone who this has happened to, and Blueno may have witnessed it himself. (Blueno does not believe anything he cannot confirm with his own senses, and he claims this is what happens if you eat a second, so he wouldn't have made the claim unless he was sure of it).
  • Sailor Moon:
    • In one of the episodes Usagi lists a bunch of her faults, one of them being that she's flat-chested. Her actual appearance contradicts that.
    • Then there's a later episode where the Monster of the Week and Chibi-Usa both agree that she's fat. In reality, her proportions are more exaggeratedly thin than Barbie's even though she's constantly portrayed as a lazy Big Eater. Apparently, Naoko Takeuchi originally intended Usagi to be slightly chubbier than the other girls, but you can't tell by the way she's drawn.
    • Makoto was allegedly designed to look like a Japanese Delinquent and is often treated as being unattractive (something she seems to believe herself). Other than being a fair bit taller than her peers and the occasional scowl when she's angry, there's nothing that makes her any less pretty than them.
  • In Sonic X, Chris Thorndyke often complains about being rich meaning he doesn't have any real friends, and his parents never being home. While at first this seems almost true, over time, he is shown to have more human friends, more guardians, and his parents repeatedly manage to physically show up for special occasions. Being obscenely wealthy is certainly never played as a disadvantage.
  • In Urusei Yatsura, the male protagonist, Ataru, is described more than once as being the most unattractive teenager in all of Tomobiki. However, he looks like an average teenage boy. He has a steady girlfriend before the start of the series. Unknowingly charms the Cute Alien Girl Lum, who refuses to let him go, and other female characters throughout the series and movies.
  • Nate being a Ridiculously Average Guy is a running gag in Yo-kai Watch but he isn't nearly as generic as he is stated to be.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: Stephanie Brown is often stated to be by far the least competent member of the Bat-family, to the point that her being completely out of her depth as Robin was the entire impetus for War Games. While she's mostly self-taught, usually underequipped, and not as inhumanly skilled as some members of the group, in actual fights or on missions, she doesn't seem much less able than most versions of Robin, and can still manage to beat up dozens of thugs or sneak into top-security fortresses with the best of them.
  • The French in Crécy are presented as monstrous terrors that have oppressed England for centuries which basically forces the English to engage in war crimes in order to combat their enemies. However, the narrative doesn't particularly portray them as any more valuable than the English, and given the context of the conflict, it's the English who come off as worse since they are the aggressors and the French are merely defending themselves.
  • In the original run of Doom Patrol, the original cast was meant to have really unpleasant superpowers that made them viewed as freaks from society. Robotman's metal body meant that he had no sense of touch, and Negative Man was essentially a host for a parasite — but then there was Elasti-Girl, who could stretch and expand her body to any size, even becoming a Giant Woman, a power which she had full control over. It was stated that early on, she didn't have much control over her power, which ruined her acting career, but by the time of the comic, it was difficult to see the downside, and she was shown to be a very competent crimefighter. Later writers ended up retooling her powers to carry more obvious problems, such as her collapsing into a human blob if she lost concentration.
  • In Green Lantern: Rebirth, one scene shows Green Arrow attempt to use a Green Lantern ring in a fight, and he's shown to be physically and mentally exhausted to the point that he can barely even stand after summing up the will to create a single small construct of an arrow. Kyle tells him that it feels like that "every time" he uses his ring. This is rather unusual, as Green Lanterns have been shown many times using their rings with no visible strain, including for casual and frivolous purposes (i.e. making a green hand to point at something).
  • When "he" first appears in New Avengers a sharp-eyed reader might notice that the mysterious character Ronin seems to be ignoring Spider-Man and Iron Man. This makes sense when it's revealed that Ronin is actually Echo — a deaf woman — who can't lip-read someone whose mask/helmet covers their mouth... unfortunately, once that's revealed, Echo's deafness seems to go away; she even replies to comments made by people facing away from her.
  • An early Superman Christmas story shows us an older boy who's supposed to be spoiled and unappreciative of his wealth, but the actual writing shows him as no worse than sheltered, and far from being unappreciative of his many toys, he's surfeited, and wants to move on to real things, which is perfectly normal and reasonable for a twelve-year-old.
  • In The Umbrella Academy, Alison, The Rumor, is described as being narcissistic despite never displaying this trait.
  • Zipi y Zape: The twins have bad publicity and some stories show the citizens running away in panic from Zipi and Zape as if they were terrorists or horrible monsters. In reality, Zipi and Zape are two of the nicest people in their town, and they always want to help people. The bad publicity may be due to Characterization Marches On, as in earlier stories the twins were slightly more mischievous and more prone to perform pranks such as tying cans to dog tails. In later stories (the ones that are easier to find and everyone remembers), this trait is dropped, but the citizens' reaction to their pranks isn't. Another possibility is that Values Dissonance is at play: the comic was made in a different time when people were more strict regarding certain behaviors and may have seen their pranks and actions as something more grave.
  • In Monica's Gang, Monica is always bullied by being "shorty, toothy and chubby", but toothy is her only apparent characteristic. She's as short as any other child of her age and she looks to have the same BMI as her bullies, although it is sometimes portrayed as "heavy", but not necessarily "chubby".
  • The Phantom Zone: One panel in the opening scene goes over a Long List of Phantom Zone prisoners who appear in earlier comics but remain offscreen in this one. They are described as a “legion of infamy”, each responsible for “heinous” crimes. However, some of them are only guilty of lesser crimes like theft (Ak-Var and Tra-Gob) or forbidden scientific experiments that didn’t hurt anyone (Vorb-Un), and several of them (including the aforementioned three) were even paroled and allowed to live in Kandor prior to this story. Possibly justified, since their crimes may be considered worse by the standards of the more advanced Kryptonian society, and the Phantom Zone inmates giving Quex-El dreams about the prisoners may not care about that point.

    Comic Strips 
  • Bloom County: Early in one arc, Steve Dallas becomes a surprise test subject for Oliver Wendell Holmes' "electro-photo-pigmentizer," which temporarily turns light-skinned people black. Steve has no idea what happened and thinks it's a The Twilight Zone-style Karmic Twist Ending because he is "an occasional mutterer of racial slurs." While Steve demonstrates all kinds of boorish behaviors on a regular basis and it wouldn't be surprising if he did use racial slurs, he's rarely if ever shown doing so.
  • In one Calvin and Hobbes strip, it's claimed Susie eats sandwiches by taking them apart and eating each ingredient separately. Not only is this never referenced again, several later comics show Susie eating her sandwich normally.
  • Therese of For Better or for Worse was repeatedly described as shallow, petty, materialistic, and whatever else Lynn Johnson could use to paint her as the villain in Anthony's marriage. However, she rarely got any panel time that involved anything other than complaining to Anthony about Liz — whom she turned out to have good reason to dislike. When she was shown interacting with other characters, she came off as little more than a normal if somewhat removed person and some thought her actions were justified when details of their marriage came to light.
  • Ever since the start of the strip's run, Garfield has been consistently described as being fat, but, as drawn, he has actually gotten significantly more svelte over the years.
  • Charlie Brown in Peanuts claims that everyone hates him and he has no friends, even though Schroeder and Linus are clearly his friends, and although Lucy insults him, she also hangs around with him an awful lot. Also, all the neighborhood kids let him be manager and captain of the baseball team. Of course, this makes more sense when you know that the creator Charles M. Schulz, even when he had a wife, five children, and millions of fans, still complained of being anxious and lonely. This is slightly more evident, if still underwhelming, in the animated cartoons, where the others can sometimes be more apathetic or ignorant of his suffering. Charlie Brown's defining characteristics are being wishy-washy and most of the symptoms you think of when you hear the term "clinical depression". Too bad There Are No Therapists other than Lucy.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): San's tendency to be distracted and slow on the uptake (as seen in Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), and explicitly referenced by himself and Ichi and Ni in this story) becomes this. As half of Monster X, San is competent and quick on the draw when it comes to battle and defending themselves. Possibly justified by him caring for Monster X's Vivienne Graham half giving him motivation that he didn't have when attached to his hateful brothers.
  • A Pikachu in Love gives us the other Pokemon considering Pikachu the 'teacher's pet' of the team due to being Ash's favorite. At most, this is only elaborated on once or twice, and we don't see any of the other Pokemon in the fic treating him as such.
  • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses: Fifth Path Hilda is frequently referred to as being lazy by others, much like in the actual game, but is never actually shown being lazy.
  • The Naruto fanfic For Your Eyes Only describes Sakura as being the type who Really Gets Around. She violently rejects the only male to speak with her onscreen, only ever flirts with one male offscreen and is killed for it. We never even hear her point of view on this, as she doesn't get so much as a word of dialogue.
  • Infinity Train: Seeker of Crocus has many things it says about Goh that really aren't backed up by the story itself.
    • The main problem with Goh that gives him flak to no end are his, as often eloquently put, "piss-poor social skills". However, while his social skills do need a bit of work, most of the examples regarding social skills aren't even directly connected to them; instead, they're the result of him being Locked Out of the Loop (He didn't know about Chloe's problems so he didn't even know that she needed help), him being Innocently Insensitive and then having said moment blown out of proportion (Him saying his damning words to Chloe, which eventually led to the girl demonizing him and cutting him out of her life), or even outright slander meant to make him look worse (again, most of what Chloe says about him in her initial train trip, and also what Class 5-E prefer to do during their free time.)
    • The narrative makes it no secret that Goh stays inside in front of a computer all day, looking obssessively for Mew and ignoring everything around him. However, rarely is Goh ever actually shown cooped up in his room, let alone near any computers; if anything, he actually spends more time at the Institute than at his own house.
    • Another flaw that gets called out is that Goh tends to take things for granted because everything gets handed to him on a silver platter. However, the same things that are said to be given to him (a job as a research assistant, not having to go to school except for tests) were either because of his qualifications (the job) or because of external sources that were worried for his safety (the staying at home part), with every other interaction he has with people not even showing them giving him the time of day.
    • It's mentioned later down the act that with Chloe not being around to deliver him his homework, Goh has fallen behind in his studies. This would imply that he's Book Dumb, but there's rarely a moment in the story that shows him being that bad at studying; at most, he's shown to not be enthused about studying and heading to school when he doesn't need to, which is perfectly justified given how terrible school is in this story.
    • As Chloe herself puts it, "if it's not about Mew, it's not his problem". This implies a level of tunnel vision that means he doesn't bother with anything else if the Pokémon isn't involved, but the story shows otherwise: not only is Goh able to become aware of other problems that don't relate to Mew, the Pokemon himself rarely ever crosses his mind.
  • Jeremiah Walker in The Man With Two Names is stated more than once to have a problem with his temper. Yet the only times he's shown losing his temper in the story are when someone is completely screwing him over, such as a vendor charging him over ten times as much due to racism or his employer not only refusing to help him get a work visa so he won't get deported to the Everfree Forest but also trying to frame him for attempted murder. The ultimate case being his argument and "murder" of his older brother, Abe. The story completely ignores that not only was Jeremiah the wronged party, like always, but that Abe was the one who escalted their argument to violence and his death was a complete accident which Jeremiah was completely horrified by note 
  • My Immortal: Snap and Loopin are apparently pedophiles for peeping on Ebony. While it's certainly wrong to peep, especially on one's student, Ebony is of legal age. Also, Loopin is apparently very dangerous even though he doesn't do anything, and is actually somewhat polite toward Ebony.
  • Ronan of Naruto Veangance Revelations, has two flaws listed; he has a mole on his face, and he can't do housework. He has over six times the point threshold at which the "Official Mary Sue Litmus Test" says a character is a lost cause.
  • In Friendship is Witchcraft, Spike is apparently incredibly fat. He clearly isn't. This just reinforces how he is the eternal Butt-Monkey of this universe.
  • Origins: A Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands/Halo Massive Multiplayer Crossover, Admiral Allison Nimitz really, really doesn't like working with the Pandorans and inhabitants of the wider galaxy because they're "uncivilized". She does anyway, claiming the Godzilla Threshold has been crossed, but given everything that's happened (and indeed looking at things Trans-Galactic Republic forces participated in previously, such as at a minimum ignoring tyranny spreading as a result of their technology), her complaints fall flat. Further, the actions of the Mega Corps make sense in their own universe, which is even discussed by a Trans-Galactic Republic captain, alluding to "blue and orange paint".
  • Naruto's orange outfit—tons of fanfics go out of their way to mock it, talk about how impractical it is for a ninja, and point out how insanely bright it is, and generally have him replace it with an outfit the author considers more practical (generally all-black, which is even worse for stealth since it stands out against anything). However, Naruto's getup isn't much brighter than what everyone else wears, and as canon shows it hasn't hindered his stealth ability.
  • In The Prayer Warriors, we are told that the Prayer Warriors don't murder, unlike the Satanists. Never mind that the vast majority of the deaths in the story are someone being murdered by a Prayer Warrior, and the relative few that aren't are often Prayer Warriors being killed while trying to kill someone else.
  • Pink Personal Hell And Altering Fate plays this a little differently — Nickel Steel doesn't believe he's good at magic despite having a "magic" Cutie Mark. Actually, that's just him not being sure enough of himself — meaning his flaw isn't that he's unskilled at magic, moreso that he's just not sure of himself.
  • Justified in When The Moon Fell In Love With The Sun. Katniss considers herself ugly, but to hear Peeta tell it, she's the most beautiful girl in the world. This is one of the hints that Katniss's terrible self-esteem is coloring her narration.

    Films — Animated 
  • The posters for Ice Age: Continental Drift described Scrat as mischievous when he is actually a Butt-Monkey Determinator who only causes trouble unintentionally (and then suffers worse than anyone for it.)
  • The Russian animated movie Ilya Muromets and Nightingale the Robber draws attention to Ilya's superstitiousness for about its first half, and then it's forgotten and has no effect on the plot when the characters get to Constantinople.
  • Supplementary material for The Incredibles claims that Elastigirl's strength is decreased the more she stretches. This is never borne out in the film itself. If anything, it seems like the opposite is true; she tends to use her stretching power while throwing punches and kicks and routinely knocks people out while doing so, and her biggest feat of strength (keeping an entire RV with her family in it suspended for a fairly long period) was while her entire torso was stretched to the size of a tablecloth.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever, Jeremiah Ecks is introduced as an alcoholic that spent the previous couple years getting sloshed in bars. Apparently, not only did it not reduce his physical prowess at all, but he didn't even need any time to sober up.
  • Played for Laughs in Being John Malkovich. Dr. Lester apologizes for his horrendous speech impediment when in fact he has no impediment whatsoever. He just thinks he does because his secretary is extremely hard of hearing and mishears everything he says.
  • The Brass Teapot has Payton, played by Alexis Bledel. By the way the other characters talk about her, one would think she was the resident Alpha Bitch, but other than some snootiness and condescension, she’s nowhere near that bitchy and she does keep inviting her poorer former high school classmates to her parties.
  • A Bronx Tale: Tony Toupee supposedly insists on singing all the time despite being a terrible singer, but in all of his scenes, he's either staying quiet or being drowned out by a voiceover.
  • In The Broadway Melody, the two main characters, a sister act, each have one. There's the "attractive but untalented one" (who seems every bit as good a dancer and singer as the other) and the "talented but plain one" (who is not even a little plain).
  • Sally Bowles of Cabaret is said to have an average voice in the source material, and she's an untrained dancer; basically the idea is that she's passable for the Kit Kat Club but unlikely to ever rise above it. Several productions get around this by having the actress add tired inflections to some of the songs, but the 1972 film version casts Liza Minnelli. She had years of experience in both singing and dancing and, while she did come up with some techniques that an enthusiastic amateur would use for "Mein Herr", her singing is perfect.
  • Thomas Sharpe of Crimson Peak has a twofer:
    • He claims he's nervous in crowds and says he has to shut his eyes during his and Edith's first dance together. He never once displays No Social Skills at any other point in the film — interacting with strangers confidently and charismatically. Specifically he says he has to shut his eyes during uncomfortable situations — which he never does, except for when Edith discovers his incestuous relationship with Lucille.
    • Edith claims he's "always looking to the past". A character trait that might accurately describe Lucille, but Thomas is shown to be very ambitious and imaginative — never displaying old-fashioned or outdated attitudes.
  • Fifteen & Pregnant: Earlier in the film, Evie goes on about how Adam is some kind of a troublemaker to the point of having to go with Cal, yet outside of him being a bit annoying, we aren't shown this rebelliousness.
  • Wendy, the protagonist of Final Destination 3 tells us constantly that she's a Control Freak. Throughout the whole film, she never shows a problem with not being in control (she in fact lampshades that her control freak nature failed her when she could have stopped the opening accident). She shows no problem with letting Kevin help or even take the lead when trying to figure out Death's design.
  • Flubber: Brainard's absent-mindedness is showcased in the first fifteen minutes of the movie, then never appears again.
  • Godzilla (1998) repeatedly has other characters tell Audrey (and by extension, the audience) that she's far too nice for her own good. The idea is to sell her as an Extreme Doormat but, before the movie has even started, she and Nick are broken up because she chose her career over marrying him. And in the course of the movie, she ruins his career by betraying top-secret information to the press to further her own.
  • In The Great Outdoors we're told several times that Roman's daughters are weird and creepy, and the theme from The Twilight Zone plays when they enter a scene. We're never shown why they would be considered weird or creepy (aside from being identical twins, which in itself is pretty mundane).
  • Screenwriter Steve Kloves said that the reason Hermione Granger became his favorite Harry Potter character was due to her having "no idea" of the effect she has on people, suggesting a certain degree of social ineptitude, yet this trait never seems to come up in any of the films (except in the first where she butts in on a lot of conversations she wasn't invited but that drops fast), where she seems quite capable of socializing with others, despite being a supposedly bookish nerd.
  • Ice Princess:
    • When she quits skating, Gen says that she's not good enough to keep up with the others anyway. This isn't supported by Gen's actual skating performance, where she comes across as being of about the same skill level as Nikki and Zoey and noticeably better than Tiffany.
    • Zoey is repeatedly referred to as an untrustworthy skate thief but is never shown stealing anything.
  • In Good Company: One of the reasons Carter gives for firing Louie is sexual harassment, but this aspect of his character is never shown in the film (although some deleted scenes hint at it).
  • The Italian Job (1969): Before they start working with him, Bridger and "Camp" Freddie seem to feel that Charlie is a small-time bungler who is certain to get caught in Italy. However, he comes across as quite skillful throughout his screen time.
  • Jurassic World:
    • It's said that Zach "can be so mean" to his little brother Gray. At worst, Zach is less compassionate than he could be regarding Gray's sadness over their parents' impending divorce, but when the Indominus rex attacks, Zach's Big Brother Instinct kicks in.
    • Claire is also repeatedly told she's in over her head and out of her depth once the disaster starts. She in fact handles herself very well in the jungle and never becomes The Load. While this could be written off as underestimating her because she's an office drone, she pulls off many heroics in the film but these largely get ignored by the other characters — who continue to treat her like a liability. Her shoes are also made fun of for being impractical (she's wearing high heels because she wasn't planning to get lost in the jungle that day) — but again she's able to walk and run in them quite easily when the occasion calls for it.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
  • Mary Poppins:
    • One scene has the title character measuring the children's flaws. Michael's ('extremely stubborn and suspicious') is demonstrated multiple times throughout the film. Jane, on the other hand, is just 'rather inclined to giggle', which only shows up in that scene. She's otherwise quite sensible, and in the Uncle Albert sequence, everybody else starts laughing before she does.
    • A justified example with how the Banks children are hyped up to be the brattiest pair of troublemakers that drive their nannies mad when they're perfectly normal children by modern standards. Mary Poppins's function is to teach the parents to show their children more affection rather than foist them onto nannies to discipline them.
  • Subverted in Mean Girls. Janis and Damian hype up Regina's Alpha Bitch nature to Cady, who is then surprised at how nice Regina and her Girl Posse are. It's only when they get to Regina's house that it becomes clear that she's a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing.
  • The protagonist in the pro-life film October Baby is a survivor of a botched abortion, and is said to have depression, epilepsy, asthma, and a childhood full of hip surgeries. Throughout the film she never exhibits any symptoms of the first two, never uses the inhaler after a couple of scenes in the opening act, and doesn't walk with any sign of a limp (and in fact spends hours dragging around a heavy suitcase).
  • Philip's paintings in the 1934 film version of Of Human Bondage are said to be awful. A glance at them shows that they are quite nice, or at least he'd have no problem selling them. It's possible there's some Values Dissonance here; impressionism was still catching on at the time Philip is working as an artist, so they might just be unpalatable for the period.
  • The Phantom of the Opera (2004) has Carlotta, supposedly a talentless case of The Prima Donna; her assistants are shown listening to her singing with earplugs on. She's noted to be blown out of the water by Christine, as well. But in the actual film, Carlotta's singing is significantly better than Christine's; even if you take Technician vs. Performer into account, they actually had to alter some songs from the stage version due to Emmy Rossum's inability to sing them properly. Carlotta does scoop a few times in her otherwise skilled performances, and it's called attention to, but Christine does as well, and it isn't. Especially egregious since Minnie Driver was dubbed by Margaret Preece due to her lack of proficiency with opera.
  • In The Producers Roger De Bris is supposedly a terrible theatrical director, but he competently stages a production of "Springtime For Hitler", complete with an elaborate Busby Berkeley Number. Of course, his main problem is that he makes everything way too campy. It just happens to work out with "Springtime for Hitler" by pushing it into Crosses the Line Twice territory.
  • In The Raid, main character Rama is said to be a rookie officer joining a fairly elite group. Over the course of the film, he displays by far the most ability of any individual character. We're not talking Action Survivor moments of occasional competence, either—he straight-up kills dozens of people in open combat with near-superhuman levels of martial arts skills. By contrast, his fellow officers are whittled down very quickly.
  • In Scream (2022), Richie claims to be a total newbie to the horror genre and to the Stab movies specifically, yet he also makes meaningful allusions to Halloween (1978) and Friday the 13th and watches a YouTube video bashing Stab 8. This later turns out to be foreshadowing the fact that he's actually a diehard horror fan — and one of the killers.
  • In Spider-Man Norman Osborn is said by a newspaper in a Freeze-Frame Bonus to be an Insufferable Genius with a history of alienating his colleagues with his abrasive, arrogant personality. However, all the times we see him before taking the Psycho Serum and becoming the Green Goblin he's quite genial, although a bit hard on his son Harry.
  • The titular superhero of The Super Inframan is stated to gain his powers from Solar Energy, which allows him to pull off his Finishing Move, the Solar Armor Beam. According to the film, without the sun, Inframan will be severely weakened... except that's not the case. When the villainess, Princess Dragon Mom, blocks out the sun with a powerful smokescreen, preventing Inframan from using his Solar Armor Beam, Inframan instead switches to using his Infra-kick and destroys two monsters with it. That's not accounting for the fact that the final battle took place indoors, where Inframan wouldn't be receiving any sunlight, but it still doesn't stop him from killing tons and tons of enemy mooks and monsters.
  • This is Spın̈al Tap: Their music is awesome, but try telling that to the in-universe critics. Case in point, a review for their album Shark Sandwich said simply "Shit sandwich." Then again, a song with a title like "Lick My Love Pump" probably wouldn't chart.
  • The main character of To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday is said to be paralyzed with grief for his dead wife because he doesn't want to move back to the mainland, doesn't want to date, and has long talks with his wife's ghost on the beach. (Roger Ebert pointed out this gives him an excellent reason for not wanting to move.) The movie seems to be faulting him for grieving at all.
  • What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? makes Jane Hudson out to be a terrible actress. The problem comes when we're shown clips from actual Bette Davis films of the past. While the actress herself picked her worst performances, we don't see enough of the rushes to gauge how bad Jane is (although at least it's said to be her drunken behavior on set that counts against her most).

  • Bazil Broketail: Nesessitas is stated to be inclined to dragonish dourness, but her later actions (saving Relkin and comforting him when he breaks out crying in despair) paint her as one of the most kind-hearted of dragons depicted in the series.
  • In Darksaber, Pellaeon is said to have little charisma. What does he do in that series? Display more persuasive ability and likability than anyone else on his side. Before that was written, he was known to have taken command of what was left of the fleet during the disaster at Endor, calling the retreat. After this was written, he set up a peace treaty with the New Republic and talked the Imperial Remnant into accepting it. Yeah, that's something someone with little charisma can do.
  • In The Dark Tower, people keep saying that Roland is a slow thinker who lacks imagination, yet he comes up with many an inventive strategy and thinks quickly on his feet on more than a few occasions.
  • The Divine Comedy places Marco Lombardi in Purgatory to do penance for his sins, but everything Marco says and does demonstrates a strong sense of virtue and public responsibility. Since we know nothing about Marco outside of the Comedy, there is no indication as to why Dante choose to put him in Purgatory instead of in Heaven.
  • In Ender's Game, Bean is claimed to be bad at commanding large armies, but can use a few as precisely as a scalpel. Why he would be bad with large armies is never given any examples past being stated so... until the P.O.V. Sequel Ender's Shadow which revealed said trait was in fact a lie to keep Bean from shouldering too many responsibilities because he's Ender's replacement in case he fails. Being a P.O.V. sequel also gives it more time to show that the lie does have a bit of truth to it. Bean's tactics are excellent, but morale under his command tends to be low because he's not good at empathizing with others.
  • GONE series:
    • Diana is apparently a "slut" who really gets around, which is admitted by even Diana herself. In fact, in previous books, she even wears the label proudly despite many characters (Astrid, Dekka, Brianna, and Drake) thinking ill of her for it and making it her main identifier in the series, apart from her being "beautiful and snarky". However, she's only been in a romantic relationship with Caine for the duration of the series and spent a lot of time declining his advances too. She's never cheated in the series or flirted with anyone but Caine, leading some fans to think this reputation is unfair. Unfortunately can be a case of Truth in Television, seeing as some young girls tend to get labelled by their peers as "sluts" based on appearance and demeanor rather than actions.
    • Sam's flaw is how he's "always trying to play the hero" and how it constantly backfires on him despite him doing the right thing...It seems to be more self-pity in recent installments of the series (reasons for the self-pity ranging from having to be the leader, not being the leader, everything going wrong, nothing going wrong and it being boring, his girlfriend refusing to be pressured into sex and repercussions from cheating). But he's the nice guy who does the right thing always and gets disproportionate retribution for his godly sacrifices.
  • Tom and John's father in The Great Brain books has a reputation for buying new inventions that turn out to be worthless, but it never happens in any of the stories. He orders a flush toilet in the first book that works, to everyone's surprise, and gives John a basketball and backboard that make him the most popular kid in town.
  • The Great Greene Heist: Jackson and his friends talk about Wilton as if he's a Barbaric Bully and Sycophantic Servant to Keith, but most of Wilton's POV scenes have him seem like a Minion with an F in Evil who is slowly getting fed up with Keith's jerkiness.
  • In Harry Potter, it's established in the first book that the eponymous protagonist was a potential candidate for Slytherin, which he fears because Slytherin has historically been an evil house, and he would have probably wound up there if he didn't explicitly request otherwise. However, Slytherins are supposedly ambitious, shrewd, ruthless, and cunning, traits Harry almost never shows. If anything, he's consistently shown to be hotheaded, impulsive, and constantly downplaying his own achievements while caring far too much about others. The major Slytherin flaw is that Ambition Is Evil, but Harry is essentially a rich celebrity who could absolutely use his fame for his own gain, but instead consistently treats it as an annoying burden that he'd prefer not to have. He also has no interest in the philosophy of Fantastic Racism that most Slytherins espouse, and wouldn't qualify as pure-blooded even if he did. The only real explanation is that the Sorting Hat was picking up exclusively on the Voldemort parts of him, as otherwise the whole concept doesn't make sense.
  • The Hunger Games claims repeatedly that Katniss has No Social Skills, but even in the first book, that's not the case. She manages to impress the Gamemakers enough that they give her a practically unheard-of eleven in the ratings, her prep team adore her, the Capitol are rooting for the "girl on fire" very early on, Peeta outright says in his interview with Cinna that a lot of boys back home have a crush on Katniss and generally speaking people tend to flock to her despite Katniss being rude and surly most of the time. Of course, Katniss has pretty glaring self-esteem issues, so it seems like a case of Unreliable Narrator over anything else.
  • Gideon Lightwood from The Infernal Devices, is supposedly an even bigger Jerkass than his little brother, although he's shown himself to be nicer than Gabriel. Considering that was Will speaking, it's no wonder[[note]]He was possibly a bigger asshole than Gabriel, but he shaped up during his time in Spain.
  • Jeeves and Wooster: Bertie Wooster claims to have terrible luck with women in general, only being able to attract a certain type. It seems that that type is the only one who ever shows up in the stories.
  • In John Ringo's Paladin of Shadows series, the main character is said to have degenerative injuries from years in the SEALs that forced him off the teams and out of the Navy itself. Precisely, "degenerative damage in half the major joints in his body and a back that was compacted enough for a fifty-year-old," none of which slows him down at any point. He needs to stretch at the start of the first book, he wakes up stiff halfway through the book, it gets a brief mention once or twice in the second or third books and then is never mentioned again. This wouldn't be that big a deal, but he's not lounging on a beach sipping a drink, he's running and gunning with people half his age.
  • In the Pellucidar novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs there are a race of gorilla-like humanoids called Sagoths. In the book, it is stated a few times that Sagoths are inferior to humans in intelligence. However, none of the Sagoth characters appear to be particularly stupid, the Sagoth guard captain in the second book is able to see through a human's ruses, and the Sagoth that Tarzan befriends in the fourth book seems to be of at least average intelligence.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Supposedly each Demigod has a fatal flaw, some of which are obvious and shown repeatedly (like Percy's Chronic Hero Syndrome), but others are just... not. Bianca, as a child of Hades, is said to have a fatal flaw of holding grudges, but it just never shows up before her death. Even after that happens, she doesn't seem to hold any grudges at all, much to the frustration of her brother Nico (who is said to have the same flaw and does tend to show it, blaming Percy for her death).
  • Redwall: Some mentions of the Bloodwrath mention that those cursed with it can't tell friend from foe and end up attacking their own allies without realizing it. Except that we've never seen any evidence that this could happen, making the Bloodwrath more awesome than cursed. It's possible everyone realizes that one should stay out of the way of people like that.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events plays with this trope in regards to the narrator. Lemony often compares himself to the Baudelaires and finds himself wanting, and calls himself a coward. However, his "autobiographical" series, All the Wrong Questions, shows that he is every bit as courageous and capable as the Baudelaires and even exceeds them in certain aspects (unlike the Baudelaires, Snicket has a more intuitive grasp of people and is capable of pulling off a Batman Gambit at need).
  • Sherlock Holmes:
    • Holmes' drug use is this in the first few books. Naturally, since A. it wasn't really all that out of the ordinary for the time, at least for those of Holmes' bohemian lifestyle; B. he mainly does it from boredom when he doesn't have a case, and the stories are all about the cases; and C. Watson eventually gets him to kick the habit, it just doesn't come up. That said it's still popular for many adaptations to start with Holmes on a drug-fueled bender before getting a new case, and some like The Seven Percent Solution push this angle for all it's worth.
    • Watson lists several of his own "vices" in the first book, which include being lazy, hating arguments and noise, and getting up at odd hours at night. Seeing as how he's a Shell-Shocked Veteran recovering from being wounded and ill, these hardly count as vices and do not appear in later stories after he recovers. He also says that he has "another set of vices when I'm well", none of which are ever actually depicted in the stories either (there are subtle allusions that hint that these mysterious vices may include gambling and possibly womanizing, but they are never shown). Of course, he is the narrator; maybe he's editing out the parts he's uncomfortable with?
    • In "The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place", Watson mentions for the first and only time that he spends half his wound pension gambling on horse races. For story purposes, this is mostly an excuse for him to know something about people associated with the sport, but he had never really shown much interest in this before (or mentioned spending that much time making bets or watching races, though one short story has a mention that Watson keeps his checkbook locked in a drawer to which Holmes has the only key — a preventative measure some people who admit to gambling habits use to prevent themselves from wagering more than they can afford). Some adaptations have run with this somewhat offhand remark and given Watson a general compulsive gambling problem.
    • Holmes also has a number of flaws in the first book which were pretty much forgotten afterward — in particular, his deliberate ignorance of everything not directly connected to the study of crime. In A Study in Scarlet he claims to know nothing of literature or astronomy; in later stories, he demonstrates considerable knowledge of both.
  • Spellsinger: In the series main character Jon Tom is usually mentioned to be a horrible singer by everyone, including himself. It's a minor plot point in the first novel (when his singing actually starts a bar fight), but after that is mostly just something that the other characters will occasionally mock him for. This could be partly because he tries to take singing lessons over the course of the series (which covers over two decades in-universe), and partly because by the standards of the setting he's in (rock and its derivatives are unknown and there are common species with innately more melodic voices than humans) his singing style is much harsher than anyone's used to. Whether and how much it's an actual flaw (as he's making music for magic rather than audience entertainment) is never really clear.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, we're often told how the Targaryen family is so prone to madness as a result of their massive inbreeding that "when a Targaryen is born, the gods flip a coin." If you actually break down their genealogy, though, out of the line of seventeen Targaryens who held the throne, only Aerys II and Maegor I were truly insane due to their breeding. Aegon II, Aegon III, and Baelor I had mental issues but either owed them to trauma or were largely functional outside of them, a number of others had issues with their rulership but were quite sane, and overall, most Targaryen monarchs seem to have had a fairly standard range between "incompetent but kept the lights on" and "The Good King." Never mind the numerous Targaryens who never ascended to the throne and seemed to overwhelmingly be normal, reasonable people. Some have inferred that these kings were merely the best of a bad crop, but even then, they seem to have been pretty lucky with those coin tosses until very recently. Of course, the most recent Targaryen monarch (and the only one most people still alive would remember) did have several people burned alive and was generally so insane that it sparked a continent-wide rebellion, so it's also possible there's some recency bias and historical revisionism in play.
  • The Star Trek novel "Immortal Coil" has android antagonists who are supposedly incapable of applying the information they gather to personal growth or change. Yet either their personalities have profoundly altered since their creation, or the (organic) Old Ones were profoundly stupid to craft a race of androids with an obsessive hatred of non-cybernetic life and then go on depending on those androids for more than the time it takes to switch them off or pick up a firearm.
  • The Twilight Saga:
    • Edward Cullen always tells Bella that he's "dangerous" and "she should stay away from him." However, everyone knows he would never hurt Bella physically. While he does mentally abuse her and is extremely controlling, he doesn't cross the line into physically hurting her. He always thinks he knows better what is good for her than she herself, like in New Moon where he broke up with her. Allegedly to protect her from him and his vampire family.
      • Edward is an atoner who doesn't trust himself not to fall back into blood lust. It doesn't help that Bella's blood smells super-delicious to him and to his knowledge that has only ever ended badly for the human involved. This is arguably less an informed flaw and more a case of self-doubt that turned out not to be justified.
    • Edward says at a few points that humans find vampires naturally frightening, and thus try to avoid them. Given that the entire town all but hero-worships the Cullens for being so beautiful, mysterious, generous, and so on, that's kind of hard to buy. Of course, we're later told that vampires have physical features meant to lure humans closer, so it could just be a case of the author not being able to make up her mind/remember what she wrote.
    • Another alleged flaw of the vampire race is that they need the masquerade to protect them from being exterminated by humans. This seems a baseless fear since these vampires have none of the traditional vampire weaknesses (unless you count sparkling in sunlight) but do have Super-Strength, Super-Speed, are nigh-unkillable even if they don't use either of the above, and can easily create a whole army of new vampires. Add in powers like foreseeing any danger (like an incoming human army or cruise missile), and the Cullens alone could take on a country and win, even if the humans are aware of their existence.
    • Bella claims that she just doesn't get along with most people, having no friends in Phoenix besides her mother. The instant she gets to Forks, everyone she meets clamors to be her friend. Not to mention that while she insists she's uninteresting, she gets the attention of Edward, who it is stressed had no interest in most folks outside of his vampiric family, ever since his transformationnote .
      • Alternatively, Bella is the narrator so this could just be her self-esteem issues talking. Plus her mass appeal seemed largely due to her being the new girl from an exotically distant locale rather than because she was especially good with people. Self-esteem issues or not, though, the depictions of the various characters over the next few books show most of them wanting to be Bella's friend, wanting to go out with her, or being bitterly jealous of her.
    • Leah is often described as a shrew of the highest order, to the point where Breaking Dawn has Jacob finding it extremely weird to have a civil conversation with her, and everyone agreeing that the miserable life she's living is her own fault. While Leah does say some not nice things, a lot of her "jerkishness", like trying to convince Jacob to stop pursuing Bella because she's getting married, makes a lot of sense. Not to mention that her "shrewish" behavior started after her she lost her fiance to her cousin, turned into a werewolf, went through the stress of her dad dying, and generally had her whole life ruined and screwed up. It is not surprising that haters of the series see Leah as the Unintentionally Sympathetic Woobie, garnering a massive fanbase in the process.
    • Jessica and her group, with the exception of Angela, are described quite differently than what they are. Bella says they're shallow, annoying, clingy, and rude. Indeed, right after meeting Jessica, Bella thinks to herself that Jessica just wants to be her friend to be popular, but we never find out what made Bella think that. In Midnight Sun (a P.O.V. Sequel starring Edward) his mind reading depicts them this way, too, but many people feel this is out of character, and essentially Meyer trying to confirm her assertions. Basically, Jessica was already popular, and Bella was never sociable enough to help her with that even if she weren't.
  • For a guy who claims he was far too squeamish to finish medical school, Escott from The Vampire Files seems awfully at ease with collecting bottles full of cow blood for Jack every couple of books or even letting Jack bite his wrist when he's really horrifically injured.
  • In Elizabeth Vaughan's Warprize, the protagonist explains in narration that she's not "diplomatic" enough to be a good queen. However, she has just spent the entire novel bonding with a tribe of foreigners, advising them on Xyian politics and medicinal techniques, and trying (successfully) to keep her Arranged Marriage with their king stable. So that 'flaw' comes off as a lie she tells herself in order to justify passing the crown to someone else and permanently joining the tribe...which may be the point.
  • In Warrior Cats book The First Battle's finale, proto-StarClan shows up to tell both the protagonists and the antagonists what horrible people they are for fighting. The fact that the Moor Group were fighting to protect themselves from being slaughtered by the Big Bad, who they had unsuccessfully tried to reason with before, is never really acknowledged.
  • What The Hell Did I Just Read: A Novel of Cosmic Horror: Played for comedy. Dave keeps referring to John's friend Nicky as a horrible person, the kind who laughs too loud at her own jokes and no one else's. Dave pointedly excludes her from the narrative, so we have only his word to go on, until the very end, when she shows up and seems perfectly normal.
  • In one book of the X-Wing Series, Wedge Antilles' childhood friend Mirax teases him about his ego, saying that it's so big he thinks he can control it. Wedge's pride is barely shown at all — in Wraith Squadron he puts up with one of his pilots saying that at twenty-eight he's too old for the job to a point and then challenges her to a race and wins, but he doesn't even rub it in. He once goes on a spectacularly destructive but strategically unnecessary strafing run because a TIE pilot and the ground defenses "irked" him for almost shooting him down, but that incident is never followed up on. Wedge is happy getting little credit, and once when playing a gambit for the benefit of one of his pilots regrets that credit will go to him and not them. Granted, Mirax also says (in the same dialogue, no less) that as a redeeming characteristic, he usually can (and does) keep it in check. And those few times he doesn't, it's usually his enemies that are the worse off for it. He's got much more of an ego after the X-Wing novels, admittedly, though those are the books that show him in the most detail.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Liz Lemon of 30 Rock is often described as, at best, homely, despite being played by Tina Fey. It's explained in-universe/by breaking the 4th wall when Liz steps in front of a High Definition camera, which reveals that her face looks like it belongs to the Wicked Witch of the West.
  • Arrow: Oliver is stated in the first episode to have multiple old injuries including twelve fractures that never properly healed. These wounds never take their toll when he's jumping on rooftops, beating bad guys to a pulp, or being the biggest Badass Normal of the Arrowverse.
  • In Blood Ties (2007), the main character supposedly has retinitis pigmentosa, which makes her have very poor peripheral vision and night vision — not that it affects her at all after the very first episode. Even if she could see reasonably well in daylight, she should have been blind at night — after all, retinitis pigmentosa is also known as night blindness. But she can easily navigate in a darkened room using a tiny little penlight. In the book series Vicki has serious problems navigating at night. The fact that she can't drive in the dark is a major plot point in the second book.
  • In The Boys, M.M. calls Fish out of Temporal Water Arc Villain Soldier Boy a "racist piece of shit". While he certainly had some dated views, he's never actually shown being racist towards black people or anyone else as he had high praise for Bill Cosby and the Mujahideen. The only implication of racism is him hosing civil rights protesters in the 1960s being alluded to by The Legend, but is never actually shown. Of course, he killed M.M.'s family without any remorse, so it's understandable why M.M. would assume racism given this. According to Word of God, there were initially going to be scenes with him actually being racist but Jensen Ackles was too uncomfortable with them.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy is a complicated example. She is supposed to be an inversion of the girly blonde cheerleader who gets killed by the monster in a horror film. It's implied that the movie takes place before the series and there she started out as the girly bimbo cheerleader, but that becoming The Chosen One put an end to much of that. The show doesn't start until after she Took a Level in Badass.
  • Chewing Gum: Tracey says that she's not envious of Candice, despite her beauty, because she has learning difficulties and so it balances out. However, these difficulties are never shown and they don't seem to have impacted Candice's life in any way.
  • The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance: Seladon complains that Mayrin spoils Brea and plays favorites. From what we do see, Mayrin doesn't act like a doting parent towards any of her children. If anything, she's quick to dismiss Brea when she admits her suspicions about the Skekis and promptly assigns her to community service after a diplomatic incident with the Sifa.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The War Doctor is built up as a much darker and more violent incarnation than the others, so much so that subsequent Doctors pretend he never even existed. However, we never actually see him commit any of the atrocities that have made him such a pariah, save for almost destroying his home planet, which he ends up not doing. Even then, two other Doctors are there to assist him, so it's not even that the War Doctor crosses any lines that none of his other selves would cross.
      • However, this is something of an in-universe example, as due to the time manipulation, no iteration of the Doctor, except the eleventh (being the latest iteration involved) can remember the events, so they all THINK the War Doctor did something much worse than he did (killing the Time Lords, instead of saving them). Thanks to Timey-Wimey Ball shenanigans it's entirely possible that the first time around he really did do it; he definitely made the decision to do so and was only prevented at the last second.
    • We are repeatedly assured through Series 7 and 8 that Clara is a 'control freak'. She is, but it takes until "The Caretaker" (the sixth episode of Series 8) before it manifests in her behavior whatsoever, and even then we get episodes like "Kill The Moon" and "Flatline" where the Doctor purposefully gives her direct control over situations and she is hurt by the Doctor not wanting to take charge. There's also a running joke in Series 8 that her face is 'too wide', despite her face being perfectly normal.
  • The Flash (2014): Hunter Zolomon/Zoom, Big Bad of Season 2, is revealed to take a drug called Velocity-6 (and later versions until 9) that enhances his speed but in the process, it starts to weaken him and he needs to steal Barry's speed in order to survive the cellular degeneration. Except we never see this actually affect him in any way. By contrast, the one-shot villain Trajectory uses Velocity-9 but it causes both an addiction and a mental breakdown that results in a split personality and its effects end up killing her. Granted, Zoom was already a speedster, thus he already has the speed force in him to keep him active longer, but he still manages to win out almost every encounter with The Flash despite his insistence he's dying.
  • Frasier:
    • Martin suffers from a bit of this. While he is often described as being cranky and intolerable before moving in with Frasier, flashback episodes generally portray him with the same pleasant, easy-going personality he always has. Likewise, as an active and energetic man for his age, he rarely comes off as disabled enough to justify having a full-time, live-in medical assistant. This was lampshaded to a degree in the episode "Dial M For Martin," where the plot centers around the question of whether Daphne's services are still needed (with a predictably belaboured Reset Button ending). This is alluded to all the way back in the pilot. Martin only needed part-time help, but Daphne needed a permanent live-in job and her agency sent her there by mistake. However, Daphne was the only applicant that Martin liked and thus was hired (to Frasier's chagrin).
    • Similarly, Lilith is usually spoken of as if she is the devil herself. Yet while she is portrayed as a bit emotionless and overly rational, there are no signs of malign intent or immorality that would justify this reputation.
  • Friends:
    • Joey and Chandler's apartment supposedly being "small." While not as big as the others' apartments, it was still fairly big. Also, their apartment being a dive. While it might not have been quite as fancy as Monica and Rachel's, it was still a pretty good-looking and decently kept apartment.
    • Chandler being bad with women in later seasons. Early in the show, writers occasionally make him shy about chatting up women or women being put off by a joke that falls flat. However, he's usually viewed as being the "funny one", able to swoop in and charm women with a laid-back attitude and humor. His problems with women are pinned down as having commitment phobia or not getting women in the first place. After his relationship with Monica kicks off, he's increasingly written as the guy that can't even chat women up and mocked by the gang for being so bad with women. This is despite being the only guy in a stable, functional, happy relationship with a beautiful woman while Joey and Ross are single, divorced, pining for people they can't have, or otherwise completely dysfunctional about women.
    • Phoebe is known to be a horrible singer by her friends and strangers, but her singing voice would be considered average or below average in a real-life setting and not as horrible as the bad singers you would see on American Idol. Phoebe in one episode gets sick and her voice gets deeper and more raspy when she sings, which makes everyone think she actually sounds better this way. Ironically enough, her actress Lisa Kudrow hates her singing voice and only sings on screen when it's done for comedy.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Renly claims Stannis would never be willing to negotiate. However, in the meeting, they'd just had Stannis did try to negotiate and offered Renly very reasonable terms which would probably end up making Renly King anyway. Likewise, the showrunners insist that Stannis' key flaw is "ambition" when he tells Davos that he didn't want the Iron Throne in Season 3 but feels he has to because it's his duty and likewise, saw the circumstances that led to Shireen's sacrifice as a Cold Equation.
    • Walder Frey's daughters are legendarily ugly. So much so that even Catelyn can't find something positive to say about any of them. The prospect of marrying one is what motivates Robb to break his marriage promise and marry the pretty Talisa instead. When we actually see the daughters, they look Hollywood Homely at worst. There's some of this in-universe too — as Roslin Frey is revealed to be a stunning beauty.
    • Daenerys in Seasons 7 and 8 is presented as a ticking time bomb who could go mad at any moment and would be an unfit ruler. Except, the reason she does so badly in her attempts to conquer Westeros is that she listened to her advisors who gave terrible advice; she didn't take King's Landing straight away because Tyrion and Varys advised her not to. Sansa is mistrustful of her in Season 8 for no apparent reason. Their suspicions are only proved right due to Moral Luckwhen Daenerys chooses to burn all of King's Landing to the ground after a surrender. This happens after several of her inner circle start conspiring against her, before she has done anything. One moment that is presented as Foreshadowing for this is her execution of Randyll and Dickon Tarly — who were humanely offered the choice between that and surrender. Harsh but no more so than Ned Stark beheading a Night's Watch deserter in the first episode, or Jon Snow executing those who rebelled against him (including a child).
    • A particular example of Dany's instability is the show treating her dismissing Tyrion in the later eighth season as a sign that she's losing touch with reality and rejecting her most valuable allies. The fact is, few if any of his plans ended well for her, quite a number led to dire consequences that required her to bail him out, and he has consistently failed miserably to read or predict Cersei's actions or mentality, which is his supposed area of focus. If anything, her flaw comes across as being a Horrible Judge of Character for continually treating Tyrion as a valued member of her court and almost always at least trying what he suggests. A good ruler would probably have fired him or had him Kicked Upstairs long ago, and the endlessly-vindictive psychopath the show is trying to build her up as would have likely incinerated him by the halfway point of the seventh season.
  • In Heroes, for all of Volume 3's talk about Sylar's uncontrollable "hunger", he seems perfectly capable of hanging around and interacting with other supers without popping open their brains to see what makes them tick. This seems to be the case even after he turns back fully to the side of evil (he never chows down on Luke, for example, despite on multiple occasions being given a good reason to do so. Ditto for Doyle, who he must have been lugging around for more than a day). Peter Petrelli, on the other hand, pretty much chops open the head of every single person he meets after acquiring Sylar's ability, despite (unlike Sylar) receiving no apparent tangible benefit from doing so. This becomes even more baffling when Sylar learns how to take powers without killing but decides to do so anyway (it's fun for him), leading one to assume the hunger talk was nonsense and Peter is so thick he felt the compulsion because he thought he would.
  • Douglas Bader in Horrible Histories is introduced during the RAF pilots musical number. He informs us that he has prosthetic legs (as did his historical counterpart), but has no problems dancing an energetic, choreographed Boy Band routine with lots of kneedrops and poses.
  • House has plenty of flaws, but he does go to see the patient a lot (either cos Close to Home or just to prove a point), despite what the other characters keep telling us.
  • How I Met Your Mother: In the episode "Jenkins", the gang tells Marshall that he is the "reacher" to Lily's "settler". Which means that Marshall would never get anybody better than Lily. Yet in a past episode, the opposite is true in which it shows a single Marshall getting numbers from other women and having Lily fail at making it out on her own and wanting to get back together with Marshall.
  • On I Dream of Jeannie Tony often laments about being court martialed due to one of Jeannie's latest schemes and this is often used as an excuse of why he refuses to reveal her existence note  However, since most people don't even believe genies exist, it's never really explained why he would be court martialed for having one, or why her issues with her magic would make that happen, unless NASA in the sixties just court martialed people left & right for minor offenses.
  • I Love Lucy: It would oftentimes be stated that along with being Hollywood Tone-Deaf, Lucy was a horrible dancer. Despite this, in many, many instances Lucille Ball demonstrated her real-life background as a highly trained and skilled dancer, be it performing at the Tropicana/Club Babalo, waltzing with Van Johnson, tangoing with 6 dozen eggs in her blouse or just perfectly executing difficult comedic blocking.
  • Kevin Can F**k Himself: Deconstructed. Allison is frequently said to not be funny, be a bad driver, be bad with money, etc. by the other characters, despite there being no evidence for this (and sometimes there being ample evidence to the contrary). Being frequently belittled and made to feel like she's incompetent at even the most basic tasks is just one example of the mental abuse Allison suffers every day, and it's only during the events of the series that she begins to fully realize that she might not be the real problem here.
    Allison: I’m a bad driver. I’ve accepted that. I’m a bad driver with split ends and an overbite. When my husband’s in the car with me, he says “oh, you shouldn’t drive so slow,” “oh, don’t let so many people pull out in front of you,” “you should use your horn more.” But I get nervous behind the wheel and driving’s all about confidence, so that’s why I’m not a good driver. I’m a bad driver. But you know, I’ve been thinking... I’ve never been in an accident. And I can drive stick, I can parallel park, I can merge, and you know, I actually think that I actually used to enjoy driving. Well, we have one car, and he doesn’t have to share it, he doesn’t have to share anything. He gets me all to himself because I never went back to school and he says that’s because I never finish things. Do I never finish things, or does he take them from me? Am I bad at driving, or does he want the car?
  • Lost in Space: Will Robinson is occasionally accused of making up stories, despite the fact that he never does so.
  • Frank Burns of M*A*S*H is stated to be a terrible surgeon despite being one of the camp's only four doctors and the camp having a 97% survival rate. Other than Burns occasionally breaking down under pressure and making human mistakes, we don't see him actually kill every single patient he's given, and handles about the same number of wounded as any other doctor. There are, however, numerous episodes where one of the other doctors has to operate on one of his patients again, or step in on his operations, because he was too impatient or simply too arrogant to do it right the first time. He also tends to get easier cases with routine operations. There's certainly enough of these episodes to hold up the idea that he's incompetent, simply not that he's 100% lethal (which is more the others mocking him than making a statement of fact).
  • In Merlin:
    • Morgana speaks of Guinevere's hands, saying "her fingers are worn, her nails are broken." In a later episode, a villain identifies Gwen (disguised as Morgana) as an imposter because she has "the hands of a servant." Yet whenever we get a close-up of actress Angel Coulby's hands, the audience can see she has smooth skin and beautifully manicured nails.
    • In the first two seasons, Kilgarrah refers to Morgana as untrustworthy and destined to do evil. Except her untrustworthy acts include smuggling a young druid boy out of Camelot to save him from execution just for having magic. Her most underhanded act — preparing to murder Uther in cold blood — was motivated by him having Gwen's father executed, and even then she had a Heel Realization and chose to spare him. Morgana doesn't in fact become the villain Kilgarrah says she is until she's been corrupted by her half-sister in exile for a year.
  • Mike & Molly has Mike buying a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air, driving it for several days, showing it off, and then flaws that are supposed to exist before he bought it, like poor transmission performance, no heat and an exhaust leak show up that no one could have missed in the time he owned it.
  • Juliette Barnes over in/on Nashville is constantly being described as a bad singer while Rayna Jaymes is ostensibly the real thing... but Hayden Panettiere (Juliette) is actually a pretty good singer, whereas Television Without Pity's view of Connie Britton (Rayna) is even shared by some (though not all) of her staunchest fans — "to put it politely, she cannot fucking sing."
  • The pilot episode for No Ordinary Family informs the audience that the family in question is highly dysfunctional and on the edge of fragmenting. The show's framing story is that of the two parents seeking marital counseling in an effort to save their family. However, the 'dysfunctional family' idea is dropped for the rest of the series.
  • James Berluti on The Practice is supposed to be a less-good lawyer than the other employees at McDonnel-Young. In fact, Bobby pointedly makes everyone except James partner in one day. But while he may lack polish, James seems to have a similar win-loss record as everyone else and is shown winning cases through sheer relentlessness the partners couldn't match.
  • Officer Garcia on Reno 911! is depicted as being racist but we hardly ever see this trait (however, we do see his Jerkass traits a lot).
  • Scrubs:
    • The doctors and staffers all describe Sacred Heart Hospital as a "dump," when it looks to all the world like a shiny, sterile, and perfectly pleasant facility.
    • Carla is told that she often has bad breath from eating humus at lunch. This trait never appears again in any other episode.
  • Star Trek:
    • Much is made of Q being a liar. For example, Worf in "Déjà Q" says "You have fooled us too often, Q," and Vash in "Q-Less" mentions that the people of the planet Brax believe Q is the god of lies. Yet he almost never lies onscreen, something Janeway explicitly points out. He is certainly deceptive and a trickster, but rarely does he point-blank not tell the truth. Of course, he was lying to her in that very conversation...
    • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the Defiant is supposedly overpowered for its size and almost tore itself apart when it was pushed to its top speed in testing. It never performs anything less than flawlessly in the show, however. Apparently, chief engineer O'Brien is just that good. It's later clarified that the fix is actually pretty simple, but it requires violating standard Federation safety rules; two episodes involve cast members getting other ships of the same class up to snuff almost immediately by basically changing the settings.
    • Tasha Yar's characterization appeared to be built around her traumatic childhood experiences growing up on a Crapsack World and her frequent reference to "rape gangs" on her planet. So she likely was intended to have the usual blunt and tough personality you'd expect of a former Street Urchin. However, Tasha was quite polite, soft-spoken, and mild-mannered for a person who grew up on a world that is essentially right out of Mad Max. On the Edo world, Tasha genuinely enjoyed the company of the Edo-men and women, Edo world being a world where Geordi remarked "they make love at the drop of a hat", Tasha jokingly added "any hat". She didn't exactly seem uncomfortable with men, intimacy, or sexuality as would be expected of a young woman from her background.
    • Whenever Data does a poetry reading, you can usually see the crew slumped around looking bored or doing their best to try to get out of it, implying his poetry is meant to be really bad. But aside from Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness in some of his early work and a rather basic rhyme scheme, Data's actual poetry is at worst a little amateur, with a good meter, solid use of imagery, and fairly deep topics.
  • The Angels in Supernatural are supposed to be emotionless and unable to have feelings. That's why Anna decided to remove her grace and became a human...yet they show lots of emotions through the entire series...
    • Sam's "anger issues" are a major plot point in the fifth season — the problem is, he's rarely shown as being particularly more angry or explosive than Dean, John, or Bobby, and Dean in particular seemed to have far more angry outbursts than Sam. Moreover, the anger both brothers show tends to be pretty understandable for their circumstances.
  • In Survivor's 23rd season, everyone apparently says Edna was weak. Yet the only challenges that Upolu didn't win was where Edna was sitting out.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place constantly reminds us that Alex is a Karma Houdini and that No Good Deed Goes Unpunished for Justin. Considering that Alex has been punished for saving her best friend's life, and Justin has got off scot-free for deliberately almost causing the apocalypse, it's kind of hard to take seriously.
  • WWE Tough Enough:
    • Matt Cross is eliminated from Season 5 because he "hasn't stood out from the pack", and the other judges find him boring. Apparently not doing a lot of mad high spots in training is what's going to prevent him from being a WWE Superstar. The show also used Manipulative Editing to frame Matt as The Generic Guy — leaving out scenes where he meets his old friend CM Punk (they knew each other from the indies) and where he set himself on fire in the house.
    • Ryan Howe is frequently told off for being too goofy or unprofessional. Considering how abusive a trainer Bill DeMott is, and his own personal vendetta against Ryan, the latter behaves extremely professionally at what he has to put up with.

  • Devo's "Mongoloid" is about someone with down syndrome who is "happier than you and me" but otherwise lives a perfectly normal life, with no one aware he is different. The song initially seems to be praising this guy's ability to fit in with society. However, Devo are actually saying that society has devolved to the point where it's impossible to tell a mentally handicapped person from someone who isn't.

  • Classical Mythology: The ancient Greeks often described Herakles as dumb or at least less clever than other classical heroes. This is in stark contrast to a man who found an unconventional and clever way (combined with a hell of a lot of strength) to solve almost all of his problems. This all may simply come from the need to give Herakles a flaw, as the adventures of a genius with super strength would be a lot less suspenseful. Which is a little odd, as the original stories already gave him a Fatal Flaw: namely, his impulsiveness.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • This is usually done on purpose by the rudos (hence why they're called rudos). Claim a fan favorite wrestler is stupid (Rob Van Dam), then you can by extension call his fans stupid because they relate to him. Call one of the humblest guys on the roster (John Cena) arrogant because he brought up a flaw you actually have.
  • Another way is accuse the fans of something. Chris Jericho once showed video evidence to prove the fans were hateful toward men like him because they hated values, but the video showed the audience clapping for him.

  • In the Edinburgh episode of John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme, the Storyteller sketch has him explain that his inability to pronounce "f" and "th" sounds led to him being discharged from the Third And Fourth (Forthshire) Fusiliers, only to instead join his uncle Theodore Finnemore's Thimble Factory, where he works under Thaddeus McFarlane procuring fingers and thumbs. And, for the purposes of telling the story, he has no problem describing any of this. Indeed, at one point, even within the story, he's able to announce his realisiation that "Theodore Finnemore is the foremost thumb-fence this side of the Firth of Forth".
  • I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue has incessant jokes about Colin Sell's terrible piano playing, even though he is actually an excellent pianist and plays flawlessly in every episode.note 
  • Old Harry's Game: Satan claims Thomas is the most evil person in all of Hell. While Thomas has done a lot of bad things, he doesn't seem to particularly stand out compared to the many other horrible people Satan has to deal with on a regular basis. Lampshaded in one episode where Thomas asks Scumspawn why Satan considers him worse than Hitler or Stalin.
    Thomas: At least I didn't kill millions of people!
    Scumspawn: He says that's just because you hadn't gotten around to it yet.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Cardfight!! Vanguard: The lore of Keter Sanctuary mentions that it is the current incarnation of the idealistic kingdom United Sanctuary, having Took A Level In Cynicism during the 3000 year time skip. It is now a classist, isolationist dictatorship where the poor live on the ground in horrid conditions while the rich live on floating islands, completely cut off from the strife below. Or at least, that's what the lore says. Keter has certainly taken a level in authoritarianism with many cards that have flavor texts discussing the law as something meant to be followed for its own sake rather than something meant to protect the rights of those who live under it. However, there are basically no cards that talk about oppressing the poor or anything of the kind.
  • A standard trick by powergamers in tabletop RPGs is to take a character flaw that will have almost no impact on their character, to reap the benefits (flaws usually come with perks or extra XP). A common example is taking a social flaw, and then to simply never speak in character.
    • Most DMs of these systems get wise to this after their first experience or two and start limiting character flaws players can take. The Shadowrun 4th edition rulebook went out of its way to encourage DMs to make certain flaws unavailable to characters who are never likely to get into a situation where they matter.
    • Conversely it is often seen as the responsibility of the DM to ensure that characters run into situations where their flaws will come into play and ensuring the player roleplays the flaw.
    • Of course some systems also seek to prevent this from happening. One method is to attach flaws to related perks, providing a benefit at the expense of the flaw (for example, being able to deal more damage at the cost of also receiving more), thus ensuring that in any situation where the benefit can be reaped, the flaw also comes into play. Other systems also actively encourage players to include their flaws, such as the Savage Worlds system, were the DM can give the players extra re-rolls for including and role-playing their flaws.
  • Somewhat famously, GURPS had the flaw of Weirdness Magnet. This was popular among min-maxers for the expedient reason that player characters are invariably Weirdness Magnets already. And due to the way the flaw was written, once one character had it, there was basically no effect if everyone else took it as well since it was already a party-wide effect that didn't stack. Not to mention, there's the angle of "So... the downside to taking this flaw is that I get to go on ''more'' exciting adventures and be the center of attention?"
  • Any system that includes a "Nightmares" flaw is generally ripe for this, mainly because most DMs/GMs/Storytellers aren't willing to waste time coming up with elaborate, horrifying nightmares for one character and likely bogging down the session in the process, and many systems only describe the consequences of the character being tired from lack of sleep or nerves without applying actual mechanical penalties in the flaw's description. This often results in a grumpy, obnoxious character with little patience, which is what your average munchkin is looking to play anyway.
  • World of Darkness played this straight by giving you character creation points for flaws. New World of Darkness corrects it by making flaws work by granting you additional experience after any session where they came up and caused you actual problems — so if you choose a flaw that never causes you any problems, you don't get any benefit from it, either.

  • 8-Bit Theater: Red Mage abuses this as much as possible to max out his "character sheet".
  • In-Universe: Pete in Darths & Droids took Lactose Intolerance as a flaw ...for R2-D2, a droid that doesn't eat. His character is also supposed to be effectively mute, which never comes into play as none of the players ever act that much in-character anyway. When the DM actually started enforcing the language restriction, the player created an original Conlang for the game (which was allowed because it was awesome).
    • When they start in on the third trilogy, Pete tries again, giving his character the flaw of never being able to find a decent parking spot. It backfires this time, and the DM takes great pleasure in making finding parking come up multiple times.
  • In Homestuck, multiple characters, including Aranea herself, comment that she always tends to bring conversations back to herself. While she is extremely talkative and literally addicted to explaining things, she mostly talks about other people, except when she's explaining who she is in her introduction. Calliope, on the other hand, is portrayed as modest even though she talks about herself far more than Aranea does.
  • Donut from Lily Love complains that she can't attract men because she's chubby, not light-skinned, has thick legs, and has a large forehead. None of that is blatantly correct; she's portrayed as pale in colored artwork and is skinny.
  • Gary of Ménage à 3 claims to have a mass of psychological problems sufficient to sustain a Ph.D. thesis, but he seems to be just a fairly ordinary geek with poor social skills, a taste for porn (to geekily obsessive but not socially disabling levels), and in early episodes, a tendency to suffer manga-style nosebleeds in the presence of attractive real women. This may be deliberate, showing that his real problem is just self-pity. It becomes especially egregious as the story progresses and Gary ends up becoming the most sexually successful character in the comic, wooing dozens of women, and yet still gets extremely nervous around women.
  • One Piece: Grand Line 3.5:
    • Zoro was supposed to have this. His Munchkin metagaming player, Cory, took a ton of flaws he never expected to come into play for extra feats, such as his Loyalty flaw not mattering because Zoro didn't answer to anyone... until he joined Luffy's crew. The GM has targeted some of his other intended-to-be-useless flaws as well, making the trope truly subverted.
    • On the other hand, the Game Master will often stack useless flaws onto Non Player Characters in order to give them enough skill points to keep up with his ridiculously powerful players. "I gave them Tourette's and made them mute" was an excuse given for how Buggy's goons had such good dodging skills.
    • Overlapping with Cursed with Awesome, it is apparently a "flaw" that a sleeping Zoro wakes up when anything out of the ordinary is nearby.
  • In Sinfest, Crimney assures Fuchsia he's not always sweet, he gets angry. His flustered difficulty shows how seldom this happens.
  • Star Impact: During Chapter 3's fight between Etna and Ponpon, Phoebe mentions that "(Etna is) weakest against boxers with solid pressure, and Ponpon's is intense." However, Etna had no trouble whatsoever in trouncing her.
  • Keli from World of Fizz is said to have a "high gas factor", although other characters are more frequently shown belching or farting than Kelli, in fact she is rarely shown doing it all.

    Web Video 
  • The Chairman's Ear makes a few jokes about the eponymous Chairman's height. While the character is based on a real-life politician infamous for his short stature, the comedian playing him is 180 cm, or almost 6 feet, tall.
  • Word of God is that Hank, the main character of Madness Combat, got significantly dumber after his resurrection in the ninth episode, to the point of being mentally disabled. This really isn't evident in the shorts themselves — Hank having always been The Voiceless for the most part (along with everyone else in the series) makes it hard to gauge intelligence, but in terms of his behavior, he can manage complex weaponry, use tactics in battle, recognize friends he knew in life, and even play Rock–Paper–Scissors. Hell, the very first thing he does onscreen is use a corpse as a decoy to avoid a hail of machine gun fire, before lobbing a jury-rigged bomb at the shooters.
  • Ultra Fast Pony: Fluttershy's catchphrase is "I'm just so shy!" and any time she doesn't comment on her shyness, other characters will do it for her. She's yet to have any difficulty speaking up or interacting with others. The cast seems to be using "shy" as a synonym for Extreme Doormat.

    Western Animation 
  • One episode of Adventure Time has Jake ignoring Finn for nearly the entire episode because he seems to believe out of absolutely nowhere that Finn constantly makes up adventures.
  • Steve Smith from American Dad!. One common joke about him is him supposedly being extremely feminine, despite not being noticeably girlier than most 14-year-old boys. One episode even has him join a lesbian gang because the members thought he was more girl than boy and in "LGB Steve," he joined a women's roller derby team because Hayley introduced him to the team as her sister and the other team members believe that he's too feminine to be a boy.
  • Lana Kane from Archer is constantly made fun of by other people for having big hands, even though her character is drawn in proportion with normal-sized hands. note 
  • In Beast Wars, several characters make fun of Optimus Primal for being a guy who never lets up with the heroic speeches and moralizing. While this was a trait of Optimus Prime, the character Primal is sort of a successor to, Primal himself rarely does any kind of speechifying (he makes a few things that could be called speeches in the first few episodes, but they're pretty short), and he generally comes across as a take-action pragmatic sort.
  • Ben 10:
    • Ben and Kevin independently state that being Ghostfreak made them feel strange. Both of these comments happen well after Zs'Skayr hijacked Ghostfreak's form and escaped the Omnitrix, and not while either of them was seen using Ghostfreak.
    • The Master Control function disables the time limit for Ben's transformations, although it's treated as a Dangerous Forbidden Technique as staying transformed for too long carries the risk of permanent damage to the user's DNA. However, Future Badass Ben 10,000 had Master Control full-time and regularly ignored the time limit with no ill effects.
  • Ackar from BIONICLE: The Legend Reborn is said to be an old warrior way past his prime, and as such, his people are growing tired of him. Doesn't stop him from performing impossible multi-somersaults and wiping away a gang of marauding Bone Hunters and their dinosaur steeds with ease.
  • We're told Ember's song "Remember" from Danny Phantom is a mediocre song. Sam goes on that it's pre-packaged bubblegum pop taking away fame from proper artists and Danny makes fun of it, too. The song is pretty decent, and the lyrics definitely don't sound like bubblegum pop, being more of a Revenge Ballad that suggests she burned down a guy's house because he stood her up.
  • As stated by multiple characters in Codename: Kids Next Door, Numbuh One's butt is supposed to be ridiculously huge, but it looks just about the same as the other characters.
  • The Dragon Prince: Rayla keeps insisting that she’s not good enough and frequently screws up. However, the one and only time she failed at something was when she spared Marcos at the beginning of the story, and this was because she was too good-hearted to kill an innocent life. Otherwise, she’s shown excelling at almost everything she tries. The writers have also said that Rayla has a hard time with “softer emotions and expression,” but apart from an episode here or there, this is never an issue for her.
  • Family Guy:
    • Meg Griffin is constantly being called fat and ugly by the rest of the cast — she's apparently so ugly that people maim themselves to get out of taking her to a school dance, scream and set themselves on fire just from looking at her, and immediately puke when they see her topless (an earlier episode showed that she could flash people without petrifying them, though she had a slight deformity as "one's an innie and one's an outie"). However, she's drawn just like the rest of the cast, no worse, and while she does look a bit chubby, she's certainly not fat. The really hilarious thing is, aside from being slightly pudgier and having brown rather than red hair, Meg looks almost exactly like her mother Lois, who the series depicts as a ravishing sex goddess.
    • Likewise, Peter's boss, Angela, is also portrayed as being ugly and not worth having sex with, to the point where even Quagmire absolutely refuses to do her. Other than Angela's breasts sagging down when they're revealed, she looks pretty plain.
    • Peter himself is shown in "The Fat Guy Strangler" to be so fat he's developed his own orbit. While he is big (his overhanging stomach acts as a censor when nude), he ends up looking downright svelte in comparison to some of the guys who join his "National Association for the Advancement of Fat People".
  • Futurama:
    • Project Satan involved building a car out of the most evil car parts in the world, including the windshield wipers of KITT (from Knight Rider). When Fry pointed out KITT wasn't evil, Calculon tells them the windshield wipers were, it just didn't come up in the show much.
    • Played for Laughs during a "Tales of Interest" segment parodying The Wizard of Oz. The introduction of the Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Cowardly Lion are all rushed through without giving them much of a chance to show off why they need what they need from the Professor until Zoidberg just pulls up in a taxi as the Cowardly Lion (without a costume) and flatly proclaims, "And I'm the third guy. Courage. Not enough of it."
    • Bender claims in the same episode that as a robot, he doesn't have emotions, and sometimes that makes him very sad.
    • Leela's problems with depth perception. If you only count in-show achievements, Leela hardly has any depth perception problems at all, being an excellent spaceship pilot and a skilled martial artist. Indeed, the only time Leela has any problems with depth perception is immediately after it is brought up how she has problems with depth perception, making her real flaw the Centipede's Dilemma.
    • Matcluck, a Simple Country Lawyer hyperchicken, is regularly referred to as a terrible, terrible lawyer. He's been put on trial for incompetence, and once pled insanity for his client with the evidence being that they hired him. Indeed, he doesn't seem like a very smart guy (though it's Futurama; everyone's pretty dumb), but he's actually not an incompetent lawyer. In fact, onscreen, he has a perfect record. Yes, even the insanity defense.
  • In Garfield and Friends, Jon is said to have a terrible singing voice. However, anyone with an ear can hear that Thom Huge actually has a nice singing voice. Otherwise, he would not have been asked to perform the musical numbers. Also, his ability to cook is questioned... obviously he can make lasagna capably, and presumably other dishes as well; however, when he deviates from his small store of pat recipes and experiments, the results leave much to be desired (he once used mayonnaise as a substitute for some necessary ingredient, reasoning that "it's the same color"). Even Garfield won't touch these culinary abortions.
  • Quite a bit of fuss in a Gravity Falls episode is about how 12-year-old Dipper has the voice of a pubescent boy whose voice is breaking. The problem is Dipper sounds like a full-grown man. His voice isn't remotely squeaky.
  • Hot Wheels: Battle Force 5: Kryosis is said to be incredibly arrogant even more so than Stanford to whom he's an Evil Counterpart to. In the show itself, he barely says much and usually functions to shoot at stuff. In his A Day in the Limelight webisode, he's portrayed as a calculating warrior who manipulates his comrade to psyche him up for a fight, which he later explains and is thanked for.
  • In Invader Zim Dib is regularly mocked for having a giant head, even though his head is the same size as any other character's.
  • Invincible (2021): Donald Pierce is called a coward by Omni-Man, but he's shown to be incredibly brave despite his slightly mousy demeanor throughout his screentime.
  • Kaeloo: Kaeloo and Mr. Cat repeatedly accuse Stumpy of being a liar throughout the series; the audience rarely sees him lying about anything, but the narrative treats it like lying is something he does often.
  • The Patrick Star Show: Squidina has stage fright, as listed in the theme song and seen in "Stair Wars". This rarely comes up afterwards, and in episodes like "Mid-Season Finale", Squidina is fully capable of participating in the Patrick Show, doing skits with Patrick and Pearl and not being anxious or intimidated. In "Klopnodian Heritage Festival", she has the confidence to stand up against the Klopnodian flag tradition, which she thinks is nonsense, in front of a vast crowd of people.
  • Rick and Morty: Morty is described as being "as stupid as Rick is smart", but the show never provides any evidence of his stupidity. He's smart enough to easily grasp scientific and philosophical concepts well beyond most people his age, like how the existence of a Multiverse with inter-dimensional travel makes moot the concept of objective meaning in life. Furthermore, his plans are almost always more well-thought-out than those of any other character (albeit they usually fail anyway due to the Universe screwing him over), in "Total Rickall" he single-handedly solves a scientific mystery that was too difficult even for Impossible Genius Rick, and in "Mortynight Run" he manages to trick the mind-reading Fart which implies impressive mental discipline. The only time we've ever seen him do something to suggest that he's as stupid as is claimed — struggling with a basic math problem in "M. Night Shaym-Aliens" — was later revealed to be part of a simulation. At least one episode implies Rick is deliberately keeping Morty's confidence down out of fear of his potential to become like Evil Morty.
  • Sabrina: The Animated Series:
    • The Halloween Episode has Chloe give Sabrina a "Reason You Suck" Speech for nearly ruining her own party because she was too busy "trying to outdo Gem". Except that Sabrina's behavior was quite reasonable — making sure everyone had plenty of food and trying to liven the party up when Gem was going out of her way to sabotage everything. Had Gem not sabotaged the food or tried to prevent the other guests from talking, the party would have been fun.
    • In the episode "Working Witches", we're told at the end that Sabrina had let the fame of winning the contest go to her head. However, other than one blink-and-you'll-miss-it scene where she's proudly posing for pictures without Salem (which the guy right next to her threw away, not her), she doesn't show any signs of Acquired Situational Narcissism and instead is perfectly justified by everything she does. Salem doesn't even seem to mind her getting all of the attention, and his biggest gripe is her almost using his camcorder without his permission, which was justified to keep their family secret.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Homer Simpson is frequently portrayed as being seriously, even morbidly obese, even though he has a relatively average body type compared to other people in Springfield (his established height and weight of 6' and 239 pounds technically qualifies him as medically obese, but not by much and nowhere near the guidelines for morbid obesitynote ). Apu, Krusty, and Dr. Hibbert, to name three, are just as fat as Homer though they're never portrayed as such, while Barney, Mayor Quimby, and Chief Wiggum are considerably fatter and the Comic Book Guy is by far the fattest of them all. However, one episode had Springfield declared the fattest town in the USA, so there's at least some acknowledgement. As the whole of Springfield is overweight, this is not so much "informed" but more normal for the town.
    • Thanks to Values Dissonance with regard to the way intelligence is measured and increasing awareness of learning disabilities, Bart's "stupidity" borders on this. While he's often likened to Homer, who's straightforwardly The Ditz with the odd flash of intelligence, Bart gets bad grades in school and comes off as a quick, clear thinker everywhere else, immaturity and Skewed Priorities notwithstanding. When you add the fact that he apparently was a good student as recently as two years of Comic-Book Time prior (when he was in second grade) and that at least one future has him becoming Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, all the dire assessments of his ability seem very wrongheaded and may lead the viewer to conclude that he's simply Overshadowed by Awesome due to having Lisa as his sister. Later episodes combine this with a recurring theme of his never having succeeded at anything or seen anything through, applying Negative Continuity to many, many instances of easy mastery in a wide variety of subjects and skill areas.
  • South Park plays with this a lot, such as informing the audience that a character is hideously ugly or very attractive when they look no different than anyone else.
    • In one episode, Cartman is sent to jail, leaving the other boys to single Clyde out as "obviously" the fattest kid in the class, even though he is literally the exact same shape as all the other kids other than his hair.
    • Special mention goes to Ugly Bob, who was exiled from Canada for his ugliness despite looking identical to every other Canadian (and not being considered ugly by non-Canadians). It turns out that his ugliness gives him the gorgon-like ability to turn anything that looks at him into stone.
    • In "The Hobbit", Wendy points out her and the other kid's imperfections (like Bebe having acne and Jason having freckles, yet they're not shown); like herself having pimples and crooked bottom teeth (neither of which are visible), and points out that Stan has short stubby legs, even though they look just like everyone else's. What's weirder is that Jason does have an actual identifiable flaw (a prematurely receding hairline).
  • Broadside, of Transformers: Generation 1, is stated in his bio to be a complete nervous wreck. He's a Triple Changer whose altmodes are a space jet and an aircraft carrier, but he's both afraid of heights and gets seasick easily. You'd think this'd make him near-useless, right? Well, not really; Broadside's fears have been ignored by pretty much every bit of media. In fact, given his (usually) massive size and his membership into the elite and high-risk Wreckers in the comics, Broadside's pretty consistently shown to be the opposite of scared or ineffectual.