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Obsessively Normal

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"Normal as can be, that's us! Goodness, that kid in the closet is strange with his 'magic' nonsense, isn't he?!"
"Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much."
A single-family house behind a white picket fence. In it lives a man, his wife, their son, their daughter, and their baby of either sex with their dog and maybe cat in their own corner of Stepford Suburbia. The husband reads his paper in the morning, the wife fixes pancakes for the boy before he listens to parent-approved Christian rock and the girl goes on her not-date with her platonic male friend. And if any of them step out of line, they will be shamed and berated by the others.
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The Obsessively Normal strive to be normal in every way. Because of this, they dislike weird and unusual things at best, and will harshly stamp them out at worst. In fantastic settings, their disdain may be aimed at magic, mutants, aliens. In more mundane settings, it is likely to be homosexuals and other gender non-conformists, new brand products, street performers, and anything that disrupts the orderly, predictable world they want to see around them.

Since what is "normal" varies across time and space, and even within societies, the norms that they are enforcing may come across as very strange to others.

And even within their community, the paradox these people face is that the more they strive to be “normal”, the less normal they will be, since everyone deviates from the norm in some respect, and being perfectly “normal” is statistically very abnormal.

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A sub-trope of Indubitably Uninteresting Individual.

See also Absolute Xenophobe, The Complainer Is Always Wrong, Feeling Oppressed by Their Existence, and Muggle Foster Parents. Not to be confused with the Creature of Habit, who sticks to their routine even if they know it looks strange to others.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 
    Anime & Manga 
  • Maya Matsumoto from WORKING!! has a deep obsession to be a normal person. She often claims she is the only normal worker of the restaurant and her workmates are a bunch of freaks.
  • Chisame Hasegawa in Negima! Magister Negi Magi wants nothing to do with the magic, mad science, and other assorted weirdness around her. At least, according to her. When she learns that she's immune to a Lotus-Eater Machine that target's a person's insecurities because she's perfectly content with her current abnormal life, she loudly protests this.
  • Yoshikage Kira from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure wants nothing more to live a very quiet, very normal life. His lifestyle, daily routine, and overall appearance are intricately designed to be as mundane as physically possible. There’s just one problem for Kira; he happens to have a constant, overwhelming desire to murder women, cut off their hands, and take them as “girlfriends”. No matter what he tries, he can't break the addiction, so instead he simply indulges it every once in a while, killing anybody who discovers his crimes or otherwise threatens to upset his "quiet life".
  • Uno Hinako from Doughnuts Under a Crescent Moon is obsessed with the idea of being normal, throwing herself into makeup, fashion, and romance. But the inauthenticity of this façade combined with her failure to connect with any of her romantic prospects have left her a stressed, self-doubting mess, and she ends up breaking down into tears in the manga's opening chapter.
    Comic Books 
  • Darren Jones from Doom Patrol is a man completely obsessed with eliminating all strangeness and peculiarity in the world and considers himself the poster for normalcy. Jones does not realize that he is among the bizarre himself, possessing strange tools and abilities — one of these are the Delirium Box. To accomplish his ends, he formed the fake Men from N.O.W.H.E.R.E. as his personal agents of death. Their first act was an attempt to kill Danny the Street, but they were defeated with help from the Doom Patrol defeating both him and the fake Men from N.O.W.H.E.R.E. Danny took revenge by dressing Jones in drag right before his boss would see him.
  • In Shade, the Changing Man, Joe Wright is a married man who chalks up anything that happens in his Wisconsin suburb that doesn't fall within his narrow idea of what's acceptable to sinister alien "Normalcy Invaders." He becomes both super-empowered and more insane when the American Scream uses him.
  • The Unbelievable Gwenpool gives us Vincent Doonan, a genial middle-aged man who turns out to be the one hiring MODOK and his forces to deal with threats... purely because he doesn't want to live in an Adventure-Friendly World like the Marvel Universe, and if he can't change the whole Earth he will at least keep his neighborhood a weirdness-free zone no matter what the cost. The eventual reveal is that he's Actually a Doombot who fled; after his Robotic Reveal he tried to maintain his normal life, but wound up getting hailed as a hero instead... exactly what he wished to avoid.
  • Robin Series: Jack Drake is an interesting take, he loves traveling almost all year long and having sway over politicians that can be bought but he expects his son, whom he rarely interacts with, to be the perfect example of an obedient sitcom son from the '50s, playing catch with his father and football in school. Every time Tim is not exactly what Jack expects he refuses to accept it and, at best, screams at Tim for it. Jack also tried to hide his own failing marriage and tries appear to be a normal jovial dad to outsiders, though he makes no real attempts to actually be a decent dad.
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    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Christmas with the Kranks, Luther and Nora Krank decide to skip celebrating Christmas in favor of going on a cruise. The entire neighborhood stalks, harasses, and pickets the two over it, judging them every chance they get and even posting it in the local newspaper, especially over the neighborhood's custom Frosty the Snowman figure. It is not until the Kranks decide to put their decorations up to celebrate their daughter returning from the Peace Corps that the neighbors start acting civil towards them.
  • This is part of the plot twist to Hot Fuzz: Anything and everything (and everyone) that is a threat to Sandford's normalcy and its chance of winning the annual "Village of the Year" award is swiftly and unequivocally killed by the Neighborhood Watch. Their targets include graffiti artists, street performers, underage drinkers, a wannabe tabloid reporter who can't spell, a dreadful actor and his mistress with an annoying laugh, and a nouveau-riche businessman who lives in a tacky mansion.
  • Dead Poets Society: Neil's father, who has already plotted out his life (becoming a doctor) and won't accept anything that deviates from this a single bit (including activities that could look good on his portfolio like being the school newspaper's editor), even when Neil tries to defend himself by pointing out that he's an A+ student regardless. He can't even bother to label Neil's acting desire a hobby but rather an obsession, and even with everybody in the theater giving Neil a thunderous ovation he still makes a scene to drag his son away, can't bother to admit it was a good performance (even if he won't let him act again) and takes overkill measures to make sure Neil will never deviate from the goal he's made for him, which is the reason Neil decides to take the only option he believes is left.
  • The town of Seabrook from Z-O-M-B-I-E-S (2018) happens to be the best example of this trope — the people there hate anything that's different. This is displayed by the only wallpaper, toiletries and clothing colors sold there are pastel pink and blue (sometimes green), and all the houses have basically the same architecture and design. They also reject any abnormal hair color, such as Addison's natural white hair which she has to keep hidden under a blonde wig.
  • Col. Strickland, the villain of The Shape of Water, lives his life completely by the book, following orders, starting a family he doesn't love, and being mean and condescending to everyone who doesn't fit into his view of "normal" (read: everyone who isn't a straight white man), and being morally offended by the very existence of the Amphibian Man - a beautiful, magical creature he can only perceive as a monstrous freak. In one scene, a canny car salesman talks Strickland into buying a car he doesn't really like by convincing him that the colour is actually an extremely cool and manly status symbol. As with most of Guillermo del Toro's villains, Being Evil Sucks and Strickland is a deeply unhappy man.

    Literature 
  • The Dursleys from Harry Potter strive to be normal and to fit in with their community. Because of this, they hate and abuse their nephew Harry Potter for his magical heritage. The Dursleys are partly a case of Sour Grapes: Petunia's resentment comes from never getting over that she didn't get to go to Hogwarts like her sister, while Vernon had issues with the fact that the Potters were independently wealthy (and James either inadvertently rubbing it in his face or teasing him because Vernon was the type to care about that). They, of course, completely miss the irony that their attempts to be normal are based around doing one of the things that muggle society loathes the most: child abuse. At the bare minimum, Petunia and Vernon would have custody rights taken from them; jail time is more likely.
  • The Girl Who Could Fly: The Institute of Normalcy, Stability, And Non-Exceptionality would like everyone and everything to be this, and while they claim to be helping people with fantastic abilities, their real mission is to bring every creature with superpowers down to normal.
  • John Doe in jPod goes out of his way to be the most statistically average person in the world. Unlike some other examples, he doesn't care how other people live their lives as long as he himself is normal. This is because he was born crow river mountain jumper and raised on a lesbian commune; he is desperate to escape his incredibly unusual childhood.
  • Jessica Peers' memoir Asparagus Dreams, about the author's experience of life in a residential school for autistic children, states that this trope was enforced at the school: the staff set very strict routines and expectations for high-functioning students so they could appear to be superficially "normal."

    Live-Action TV 
  • Darrin from Bewitched insists that his wife Samantha hide her magic powers, not because of any moral objections to witchcraft or any fear of her being persecuted, but solely because he is obsessed with being "normal".
  • Clarissa Explains It All: Clarissa's guidance counsellor moulds her students into meeting her standards of "normal." Funny thing is, her definition of normal is entirely her own.
  • WandaVision begins with Wanda and Vision starring in a 50's sitcom in which everything is as pristinely normal as it can possibly be... mostly. Wanda is a housewife, Vision works a corporate job and has to have his boss over for dinner, Hijinks Ensue. But even in the first episode, there are hints that Wanda hexed an entire town into a sitcom fantasy because she wants so desperately to escape the extraordinary circumstances that killed Peitro and Vision. She forces everyone to embody rigid sitcom roles so she can live out her fantasy of a "normal" domestic life.
    Music 
  • In the song "Subdivisions" by Rush, you got "In the high school halls, In the shopping malls, Conform or be cast out."
  • XTC's "Respectable Street" shows the hypocrisy of people with this mentality:
    It's in the order of their hedgerows
    It's in the way their curtains open and close
    It's in the look they give you down their nose
    All part of decency's jigsaw, I suppose
    Tabletop Games 
  • Mutants & Masterminds: One of the NPCs of the Freedom City settings is an Expy of Samantha Stephens of Bewitched that had this happening to her Up to Eleven on her backstory — her Darren Expy was so driven to not have magic in his life that he managed to cajole her Aunt Clara Expy into committing suicide and mistreated her. One thing led to another, and well... she now has more in similarity with Nick Fury than Samantha Stephens.
  • In older editions of Over the Edge, the Throckmorton Device was a weird science mass mind control machine that spread this trope by force. Anyone affected by it would become obsessed with enforcing conformity by any means, up to and including murder. The Device hasn't even been invented yet, but its effects ripple backward through time.
    Video Games 
  • The Covenant in Fallout 4 is a walled-off city that consists of normal people doing normalnote  activities in normal houses... 200 years after everything was eradicated by a nuclear war. Heck, their houses are the only ones in the entire commonwealth that are still in perfect condition! They do interview everyone who wishes to enter, although even it is justified given the situation. You find out that they use the test to determine if you're a human or not, and everyone they deem suspicious is sent in a hideaway for testing (read: tortured). Not agreeing with their methods results in the entire town trying to gun you down, and once it's emptied you can build your own settlement inside the walls. Alternatively, you can side with them and use their settlement.
  • In Disco Elysium, it's possible to play the Detective as a "Boring Cop" who goes out of his way to avoid saying anything particularly bizarre or have any particularly strong opinions (which usually means that their political alignment will likely be "Moralism" note ). It's also noted however that doing so is something that goes against the Detective's very nature and is something that requires a large amount of willpower from his part.
    Web Video 
    Web Original 
  • In the SCP Foundation, the Group of Interest SAPPHIRE (Society of Atheists for the Protection from the Perilous and Hindering Institutionalized Religions Everywhere) are in a way since they want to destroy what they don't understand
    Western Animation 
  • The Addams Family (1992): Norman and Normina Normanmeyer strive to be as normal as possible. Because of this, they despise their abnormal neighbors the Addams for this very reason. They expect the same from their more open-minded son, N.J. Ironically, some would say that the Normanmeyers are the most abnormal characters on their show due to their obsession with underwear, Norman being the CEO of a large underwear manufacturing corporation.
  • ChalkZone: One episode featured an art teacher named Miss. Tweezer who only liked art of "real" things and despised anything unrealistic or cartoony. As a result, she had it against protagonist Rudy Tabootie and his imagination (and, of course, the Chalk Zone) and at one point she even strapped him to a device that resembled a TV-Y7 version of The Ludovico Technique from A Clockwork Orange and tried to literally torture the imagination out of him.
  • Adlai Atkins from the Futurama episode "The Cyber House Rules" was an orphan from the same orphanarium Leela came from whom she always had a crush on, having grown up as a phaser-eye surgeon who gives Leela a second eye surgically. He is normal bordering on compulsion, taking the blandness of the Ridiculously Average Guy trope to new limits. He has one of his Hawaiian shirts toned down and every comment he ever gives Leela is about how average and not-special she is, something she finds flattering given how all her life she was seen as a freak due to her one eye. It is not until he suggests surgically "fixing" the deformed Sally of the ear on her forehead when she wants to adopt her does she see him for the shallow, conforming jerk that he is.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In the episode "Don't Fear the Roofer", all of the Simpson family labels Homer as crazy and get Dr. Hibbert to try to shock it out of him with electroconvulsive therapy simply because they refuse to believe that Homer found a contractor to help him fix the house's damaged roof and, because of a series of really weird coincidences, haven't seen the man. Hibbert himself is even worse — he considers Homer still having a sense of humor after multiple sessions as something "bad" and worth more electrocution, and so is Homer declaring (in a test to determine that he could determine which characters in pictures were real and unreal, which he seemed to be acing so far) Robin Hood as real when (then-recent) historical research had revealed that he wasn't (again, Hibbert shocked Homer just because he wasn't up to date with medieval history).
    • Depending on the Writer, this is one of the central reasons why Principal Seymour Skinner is an antagonist: he does his absolute damnedest to destroy the dreams, hopes, and personal tastes of the children that attend Springfield Elementary in an attempt to mold them to a level of generic mediocrity so he won't have to deal with having to put an effort (and expense) in their education. Skinner himself shows in many episodes to be such a milquetoast that he actively enjoys bland, trivial mundanities that most people wouldn't care about, to the point where Superintendent Chalmers had this to say upon learning of Skinner's morning routine:
      Superintendent Chalmers: Good Lord! The rod up that man's butt must have a rod up its butt!

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