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Playing With / Adult Fear

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Basic Trope: Things that are scary to adults, or anyone old enough to understand them, because they're realistic, or at least portrayed as or feel realistic.

  • Straight:
    • Bob gets fired by his Bad Boss. He doesn't qualify for unemployment, even though the "cause" of his firing was simply his boss being a jerk. He and Alice were barely scraping by to begin with, and they begin to worry about how they're going to pay the bills and keep the household afloat.
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    • Charles' son Daniel is extremely ill. Charles is a single father, Daniel's mother having died earlier, and because the medicine he needs is beyond Charles' means, he fears that Daniel may die.
  • Exaggerated:
    • Bob is so afraid of how he's going to pay the bills, that he is Driven to Suicide.
    • Bob is so paranoid of getting a flat tire, because he knows that getting one would be a financial disaster as opposed to a minor inconvenience, that he never drives his car anywhere.
  • Downplayed: Bob keeps a year's worth of living expenses in savings, plus plenty of food in a pantry and second freezer, "just in case" something happens.
  • Justified:
    • Alice and Bob's financial situation wasn't so great to begin with, and now that Bob lost his job, it's going to be even harder for them to make ends meet.
    • Bob's society equates having a job and working hard at it with success, and pretty much defines a person (particularly if that person is a man) by their job. Bob is concerned about not only not being able to pay the bills, but people assuming that he's a lazy ne'er-do-well, or (if he's particularly old-fashioned) what the neighbors (or Alice) will think if Alice has to return to the workforce or is the primary breadwinner for the family, or losing Alice's respect. He also keenly feels a loss of identity and purpose.
  • Inverted:
  • Subverted:
    • Bob is upset about losing his job, not because he won't be able to pay the bills, but because he really liked his job, and because he and Alice wanted to go to Aruba this year.
    • Bob is happy about losing his job, because it means he's free from his Bad Boss and his backstabbing coworkers.
    • Bob is a teenager, not an adult.
  • Double Subverted:
    • Then Bob hears a report on the news about high unemployment, and worries that he won't be able to get a job, or that he will, despite having a master's degree in computer science, get stuck working at Burger Fool alongside high school dropouts and Klingon studies majors, for the rest of his life.
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    • Bob sees this as the opportunity of a lifetime, to go Back to School, or pursue his dream career. Before he can tell Alice that he lost his job, Alice tells him that she's pregnant.
    • He hears his parents wondering how they're going to pay the bills and/or fighting over money issues all the time. Bob just wants to get his parents out of poverty, and he worries for both their future (when they can't work anymore) and his own. (What if that's him someday, struggling to make ends meet?)
  • Parodied: Bob is always worried about jobs, bills, family, etc. despite being only 10-years-old.
  • Zig Zagged: ???
  • Averted: Bob doesn't lose his job. And even if something did happen and Bob got the pink slip, he has large sums of money in savings, and/or would get a large severance package. So a period of unemployment would be no big deal, and he was so influential that it likely wouldn't last long anyway.
  • Enforced: "We need to make our characters relatable to an adult audience."
  • Lampshaded: "How are we going to pay the bills?" "It’s funny how that’s the stuff that keeps us awake at night, instead of monsters under the bed like when we were little."
  • Invoked: Bob, who has little in savings note , gets fired by his boss with an attitude problem. Because he was fired, not laid off, he doesn't qualify for unemployment...and on top of that, Alice just found out she's pregnant.
  • Exploited:
    • Banks, lenders, and utility companies practically run on this trope: pay your bill/rent/mortgage/etc., or else we'll cut off your services/foreclose on your house/evict you from your apartment/etc.
    • Bob's Bad Boss talks constantly about how easily he could replace his employees, so that they'll work longer and harder and not "step out of line" because they're so afraid of getting fired.
    • Society uses this trope to keep people in line as well: Live your life a certain way and don't talk about certain things, or else you'll be ostracized, ridiculed, shamed (and so will your family), sent to Prison, or even killed.
  • Defied: Bob decides he's not going to let worries about finances hold him back, or drive him to make bad career moves (for example, taking a job he is way overqualified for) out of desperation or fear. He tells Alice that he lost his job, then he makes a plan of action. He takes stock of how much he has in savings, applies for unemployment (and will contest the denial if he gets one), and takes stock of things he can do without or scale back on, such as the cable package. Eventually, he gets back on his feet, and things return to normal, or even better than normal.
  • Discussed: ???
  • Conversed: ???
  • Played for Laughs A six year old child goes to their parents and asks "Mommy, Daddy, what's rape?" much to their parents horror.

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