Follow TV Tropes

This is based on opinion. Please don't list it on a work's trope example list.

Following

Informed Wrongness

Go To

"Oh no, this is wrong somehow!"

Showing when someone is wrong can be a powerful tool for an author. It can characterize the villainous or misguided, it can lead to An Aesop, and it is vital for strawmen in Author Tracts. It's even easier for an author to just tell us that someone is wrong rather than go through all those boring complicated fact things. Unfortunately, this often means that when you think about it, they aren't wrong at all. The fact that we're supposed to be dismissing their opinions is because the writers are telling us to more than any actual logic.

Advertisement:

Can be a center point in The War on Straw. See Strawman Has a Point for this trope when used with the strawman archetype. See The Complainer Is Always Wrong for one situation where this often comes up.

Compare And That's Terrible in which characters are clearly shown to be villainous, but this detail is outright explained, anyway. Contrast the sometimes overlapping Never My Fault, when the character responsible completely deflects blame onto someone else. See also Protagonist-Centered Morality for where the goodness or evilness of an action is based solely on how it affects the protagonist.

If taken to the extreme, these characters can become the Designated Villain or will commit a Designated Evil.

May often stem from Values Dissonance, as things that seem "naturally" wrong in one culture don't necessarily come across as being wrong in another. This is also often the case when Blue-and-Orange Morality is involved, as something that is viewed as completely harmless by most sane people is considered some kind of heinous crime by the character/group/race etc in question.

Advertisement:

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Strips 
  • In Little Orphan Annie, Mrs. Warbucks donates large amounts of money to charity. However, she doesn't care a bit about the poor, she just wants to be praised and give a good impression. Fact remains that the poor probably wish more rich people were like her. Motivation aside, she does help the needy, and that's a good thing.
  • Luann
    • Tiffany's desire to get into acting without any formal training is given the Ambition Is Evil treatment and she's all but told that she'll fail without the proper training. This is all despite the fact that A) plenty of famous actors have had no formal training before getting into the business and B) at that point, Tiffany already had a modest professional resume.
    • In an April 2021 storyline, Tiffany agrees to arrange a customized romantic dinner experience for Bets and Gunther, with Bets footing the bill for a pirate-themed evening. When date night arrived, Tiff had set up a standard "romantic dinner" instead. We're supposed to see both women as wrong: Tiff for ignoring Bets' expressed wishes and Bets for flipping out as a result. The problem here is that Bets had every right to be angry: She asked and paid for a specific service and Tiff agreed to provide it, with no intention of doing so. It didn't matter whether or not the "pirate date" was a bad idea or not.
  • The Lisa's Story movie arc in Funky Winkerbean practically ran on this. It revolved around Les Moore's insistence that "Lisa's story be told correctly" and not "glamorized." But he never said what that entails, or tells anyone what they're doing wrong. And, he originally wrote the script himself! It's even worse in the 2019-20 revisiting, where Les continued to complain about every aspect of the production, even though everyone involved was bending over backwards to appease him. On top of all that, Les' retellings of canonical events in the comic strip suggested he's not the most objective source of truth about Lisa.

    Fan Works 
  • Not surprisingly, this trope tends to find a lot of use in fanfiction, especially when people invoke Draco in Leather Pants and Ron the Death Eater to change the social dynamics of a story's cast to fit their own story. This is egregious when done in a series with a lot of Comedic Sociopathy (such as Ranma ½) where the entire cast is playing a gigantic game of catch with a multitude of Idiot Balls, Distress Balls, Hero Balls, and Villain Balls. In such stories, it doesn't matter how much attempted murder and bastardry have happened in the past, the NEW instance is suddenly the breaking point.
  • In My Immortal, being a "prep" or a "poser", rather than a "goff", is bad because... the story says so!
  • Harry Potter in the new timeline of In This World and the Next wastes no time in running around acting like an absolute Jerkass, and Snape is supposed to be a bad person for pointing this out.
  • In Dumbledore's Army and the Year of Darkness, Zacharias Smith is portrayed as wrong for wanting to leave the DA, even though he's completely correct that it's turned into a martyrdom cult instead of the resistance group he signed up for. The others agree with his reasoning, but they don't see why changing the focus from defeating Voldemort to dying heroically is a problem. Instead of presenting this sudden change of priorities as an issue, the narrative acts like this martyrdom obsession is completely justified, and Zacharias is selfish for not being on board. Keep in mind all of these characters are teenagers.
  • In The Prayer Warriors, most of the things that the Satanists and other people do wrong is seen in this light, as Dumbledore is revered by the students of Hogwarts and reviled by the Prayer Warriors for letting his students take drugs, and stay up late at night. Sometimes, the "satanic practices" and "wrong things" that people are doing when the Prayer Warriors happen on them and kill them aren't even elaborated upon, leaving them to readers' imaginations.
  • In The Stalking Zuko Series, as well as other Avatar: The Last Airbender fanfics, Aang defeating Ozai without killing him gets this treatment, with the narrative failing to consider that Aang was able to spare a life by doing so, and that it's possible to neutralize Ozai as a threat without killing him, especially once Ozai no longer has his bending. Opponents of Aang's decision typically can't come up with arguments that are much stronger than the (largely unsupported) idea that doing it will have consequences down the line, or that "everyone else told him not to do it". It also doesn't help that the critics in these stories tend to be either the new Fire Lord or some form of authority in the Fire Nation...i.e. people who can have Ozai executed themselves if he's that much of a threat.
  • In The Better Choice, ThunderClan is punished and criticized by the protagonists because they undermine Gemlight's authority. However, Gemlight has done absolutely nothing to deserve her position as deputy note  aside from fucking the Clan leader, was made a deputy and warrior simultaneously (despite not even completing her training!), and threatens to sic a murderous rapist on anyone who disagrees with her. Gee, what's not to love?
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness Act III: In chapter 13, Kurumu and the others call Mizore out on Dark's treatment of Tsukune, specifically his statement that he only saved Tsukune from the ghoul-infected Kokoa so Kokoa could repay her debt to him and make amends, and then he'll kill him to prevent the ghoul from surfacing again. However, Mizore and Felucia inform them that Dark was actually pulling a "jerk act" to trick the headmaster into thinking that the Holy Lock's damage wasn't critical yet and find time to figure out a solution, and then outright accuse the others of being Ungrateful Bastards and giving Dark too little credit. Of course, they had good reason to take Dark's words at face value, considering the fact that Dark had repeatedly stated beforehand that if he even suspected that the lock wouldn't hold, he would kill Tsukune without hesitation.
  • This Time Around:
    • In the beginning, both Urd and Peorth decide to cut a specific universe off from influence from their own universe after sending a message to their alternate selves to make a move on Keiichi. Urd declares to Belldandy that unlike her, Urd is too selfish to want to share Keiichi with her and praises Belldandy's selflessness. However, by the story's own admission, Belldandy has been manipulating every single universe she can find to make sure her alternate self always marries Keiichi. Even in universes where Keiichi is already in a relationship, she'll make sure her alternate self becomes part of it and becomes his first wife; anyone else he's involved in has to be content with being his second wife. One can hardly blame Urd and Peorth for wanting just one universe where they get the man instead of Belldandy.
    • In a later chapter, the alternate universe Urd hits her Rage Breaking Point after Belldandy cockblocks her for the nth timenote  and starts making eyes at Keiichi yet again while Urd is trying to get her out of the room. However, Urd is treated by both the characters and narrative as being in the wrong for yelling at Belldandy to stop trying to hook up with Urd's boyfriend.
  • The Spider: Both the characters and the narrative give Tony Stark grief for being a Disappeared Dad to his daughter Riri Williams, with even Tony admitting he "should have known" and been there for her. Except Riri is the result of a one night stand with Maya Hansen who literally never tried to contact Tony again after that night, despite spending the next twelve years blaming him for not being around to help raise their daughter.
  • Identities: The narrative tries to paint Legolas as being wrong in regards to his suspicions of and hostility towards Morwen. The problem is that Morwen spent literal millennia as an agent of Sauron (who is also apparently her father), and the Fellowship knows this by now. Her attempts to convince them she's changed also come off as mighty weak. The closest she comes to offering proof that her change of heart is genuine is saying she'll give intelligence against Mordor... something that she never actually does. So in the end, Legolas doesn't come off as unreasonable for being the only one who doesn't easily forgive Morwen, but the Fellowship's Only Sane Man.
  • Infinity Train: Voyage of Wisteria: In theory, Goh and Lexi's argument is about seeing that Both Sides Have a Point and are equally at fault. In practice, however, it's almost impossible not to take Goh's side because:
    • 1) The reveal that he was going through depression makes everything he went through even worse, and makes him a lot more sympathetic as a result.
    • 2) A lot of Lexi's points get severely weakened by the above revelation, since they can easily be explained by both that they would worsen Goh's depression and Poor Communication Kills.
    • 3) Every time Goh makes a legitimate counterargument to Lexi's points, the paper Denizen changes the subject, not only weakening his stance but making him come across as desperate to find something, anything, to join the call out party against Goh.
    • And finally, 4) Lexi's stance is highly biased and hypocritical, since he lambasts Goh as not caring about Chloe and not caring about how his actions hurt others, when Lexi himself nearly mauled someone over a misconception about Chloe, and has done nothing but be hurtful to Goh, the person he promised Chloe he would help.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Batman: The Killing Joke, the first half has Batgirl constantly whining about how Batman "doesn't take her seriously," ignoring the fact that every time she tries taking on Paris Franz, she nearly gets killed in the process while Batman rescues her. His concerns, thus, are perfectly valid. And it was only after she took her bottled up anger at Franz when he's arrested did she understand Batman's concern, which prompted her to quit.
  • Beowulf (2007): Beowulf's decision to accept the offer made by Grendel's mother is clearly meant to be seen as egotistical and destructive, but considering that she seems to be magically indestructible, and that by accepting he at least secures a potentially endless peace for his kingdom instead of having her murdering people nonstop in revenge, it actually looks like the best option. The only alternative would have been to keep trying to strike her and get killed for the effort, thus spinning the wheel again with the next hero who would come to kill her.
  • Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas: "Donald's Gift" tries to portray Donald as a Christmas-hating jerk for not wanting to go to the mall with Daisy and the triplets, but he had a rough day and just wants a day to relax, yet Daisy refuses to let him do so. Even worse, after he goes through one too many annoyances at the mall and understandably flips out, Daisy and the triplets disown him for it, even though it was clearly Daisy's fault for bringing a distressed Donald to the mall against his will. All he just wanted was a break from the traditions for one day.
  • In Mulan II, Shang is meant to be a cold-hearted jerk for opposing the princesses' affection for the soldiers, but consider that their country and the other kingdom is at stake, and the arranged marriage could save them from a deadly invasion, which is very important when you consider a previous invasion a few years back actually managed to reach inside The Emperor's palace. Basically, Shang is in the right when telling off Mulan for being glad that the princess have fallen for Yao, Ling, and Chien Po, but no-one really mentions that.
  • ParaNorman: Agatha's treatment of the Puritans. While Norman was telling her that she was becoming just as bad as them, that message somewhat falls flat as Agatha's curse wasn't as severe as what the Puritans did to her. They had murdered an innocent 11-year-old child and had gotten away with such a heinous action. Agatha only cursed them to rise from their graves (it's ambiguous as to whether or not her curse had actually killed them, since neither she nor her descendant Norman showed such an ability in life, so it's possible she gained that power after her death) so they could be ridiculed and tormented by the townspeople. While the townspeople would accuse Norman of being behind the zombies and try to lynch him, that was not part of Agatha's plan. She only wanted to make the people "see how rotten" the Puritan judges were. Compare that to the Puritans' act of killing a child and Agatha seems like the lesser of two evils.
  • Raya and the Last Dragon breaks its Aesop of "trust and forgiveness" over protagonist Raya's head. She's repeatedly told that she needs to be more trusting, which blatantly ignores that trusting someone she barely knew helped send the world into it's current state in the first place.note . After Raya's party confronts Namaari, after she pulls a crossbow on them and demands Sisu and the gem fragments (betraying Raya's trust again), Raya is called out for not trusting Sisu to handle the situation after Namaari shoots and kills Sisu. But Raya (and the audience) can see Namaari's finger tightening on the trigger. It was perfectly reasonable for Raya to see this and react - ESPECIALLY given Namaari's previous actions.
Advertisement:

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Early editions of the game have several spells which are designated "Evil", with players informed that using these forces is considered immoral in and of itself. No explanation is given as to why animating the undead or draining someone's lifeforce is any different from, say, stabbing someone with a sword or whacking them with a mace. But the chief example of how arbitrary this can be is the Deathwatch spell. It's described as using "the foul sight granted by the powers of unlife", yet all it does is check the current health of people in the area. Not only is this spell completely harmless, but the most obvious utility it has is to check who's most in need of healing, which would be classified as a Good action. Later editions almost entirely remove the Character Alignment aspect of magic spells, with the only exception being certain rituals that require evil acts, such as a lich's transformation. In other settings, these spells have lore explaining why they're bad, such as being linked to The Corruption, making the user a Walking Wasteland, or being excessively cruel to the victims.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Danganronpa:
    • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc: Makoto witnesses a confrontation between Monokuma and the traitor in the group, the latter of whom is no longer willing to work for the former. When Kyoko confronts him about it, he refuses to share the details on the grounds that the information he learned is far too dangerous (Monokuma later reveals it in the hopes it will be seen as a motive for murder) and that he doesn't really have proof. In response, she gives him the cold shoulder, calling him out because he preached to her about trusting each other before. Subverted in that Kyoko later realises Makoto had good reasons for withholding the information and apologizes.
    • In Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, case 4 ends with Kaito being pissed at Shuichi because he trusted Oma (the Token Evil Teammate and The Friend Nobody Likes) over him, who has been an emotional support for Shuichi ever since Kaede's death while Oma has done nothing but spread discord, this support culminating in Gonta, who is the Gentle Giant loved by everybody, executed for a murder he doesn't remember. The issue is: Oma was right, and Gonta really did commit a murder, even if he doesn't remember. Shuichi was tasked with finding out the truth and if he hadn't, everybody but Gonta would have been killed, making Kaito comes off as petty for punishing Shuichi for saving everybody in a way he disagrees with (even if it was the only way) and the rest of the game tries to make it seems like they are both being stubborn about it, while it hardly seems that way.
  • Muv-Luv Unlimited has Takeru's disagree with Meiya about an old woman who refuses to leave her home despite the volcano she lives next to being about to erupt in a mission halfway through the game, where they're ordered to evacuate the residents, by force if they need to. Initially, it's just a disagreement on morals (force her to leave against her will or die on her own terms), but Takeru is painted in the wrong. Eventually, it ends up becoming Meiya wanting to save the old woman without evacuating her, with her still being shown as in the right on this incredibly reckless task. Eventually, she manages to convince him, and they manage to successfully do it. Yay, right? Well, it ended up costing two Fubukis in the end, on top of disobeying an order from their CO on the mission. Despite this, they are unambiguously painted as in the right after it's over, and Takeru considers his (admittedly light) punishment worth it. If they merely forced her out against her will, those Fubukis could be put towards saving more lives by fighting the BETA, and the two wouldn't have wasted a number of days doing nothing productive because of their punishment.
  • Maria Ushiromiya of Umineko no Naku Koro ni is often picked on by those around her (including her own mother) for acting much younger than she is (9). This is despite the fact that, while she does have a tendency to act somewhat babyish, she also demonstrates a surprisingly in-depth knowledge of western occult lore and theological history far beyond what a typical nine year old should be able to understand. Instead of being recognized as some sort of savant, she's looked upon as creepy and off putting, and often gets smacked around by her mother for not being "normal" instead of recognizing Maria's obvious intellect.

    Web Comics 
  • In Treading Ground, protagonist Nate was cast as a repressed asshole by his and Rose's circle of friends for not giving in to Rose's advances, up to and including Rose stripping in front of him. Somehow lost in all of this is that Rose was 17 and Nate was in his 20s. And the fact that Rose agreed to wait until she was 18 before they pursued anything more than Just Friends (an agreement they came to when she was 16). It was heavily implied early on that Nate came up with that pact hoping Rose would get tired of waiting and move on to someone closer to her age, but that line of thought seemed to have been dropped by the end. Possibly intentional, it was brought up in-story that the age of consent in their state (South Carolina) is 16, and that neither Rose nor Nate — possibly intentionally on his part — were aware of this. Which still leaves the ridiculous idea that Nate was a jerk for not wanting to sleep with a teenager (even one as willing as Rose). Even if she was his age, there would still be nothing at all wrong with the refusal.
  • Dominic Deegan refers to Alterismnote  as unnatural and Alterists as creepy. We don't actually see any Alterists save for one student doing some amateur work on himself and one hairdresser who only used the magic to style hair and we are never shown how Alterism is any more unnatural than pumping your head full of "ecomancy", the "natural" equivalent, beyond some bad hairdos. This was eventually addressed in one arc where Dominic and Luna admitted their dislikes stem from Freudian Excuses and alterism is show to be akin to surgery, though with some more bizarre possibilities. It's still generally considered "wrong" in-verse due to a bad rap from its use by people more for physical enhancement than medical treatment. It was later revealed that a "prank" as a young student resulted in him having over a week of visions of the worst horrors that could go wrong with Alterism FROM THE VICTIM'S PERSPECTIVE. So Dominic's treating it as something horrible is a result of not being able to get over that traumatic incident. Otherwise it doesn't seem to be treated as being that wrong (and allowed a trans female character to successfully undergo physical transition and be happy). Which... means it's actually an IN-UNIVERSE example, albeit an Anvilicious one.
  • In Vegan Artbook, Dolly tries to go vegan for a week, but is extremely lethargic at the end of it. Because she can't cook and her mom wouldn't cook vegan food for her, her only vegan options were instant noodles and rice. We're supposed to conclude that she's only lethargic because she was doing it wrong (with the implicit message that anyone can survive on a vegan diet), but if her options are that limited, maybe it's not a good idea for her to go vegan, as it would endanger her health.

Top