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Playing With / Compressed Vice

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Basic Trope: A flaw is introduced very suddenly and exaggerated for effect.

  • Straight: Bob has his very first cigarette. Halfway through the episode, he's already gone through an entire pack of cigarettes, his teeth are yellow, and he is easily irritated without his cigarettes.
  • Exaggerated:
    • By the end of the episode, Bob is in the hospital, dying of emphysema and/or cancer.
    • The other characters complain about how Bob has always been smoking way too much even though he never smoked until this episode.
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  • Downplayed: Bob has his first cigarette early in the episode, by the end he no longer coughs when he takes a drag, and can light the cigarette smoothly.
  • Justified:
    • Can't Get Away with Nuthin' for a Very Special Episode
    • The need for Character Development in a show that has little in the way of continuity.
    • The flaw is stated to have always been present offscreen, and makes sense in retrospect- it suddenly makes sense why Bob frequently leaves the room for five minutes and comes back chewing a stick of gum.
  • Inverted: Bob, who has chain-smoked his way through the whole series, has his last cigarette and effortlessly goes cold turkey.
  • Subverted: Bob has his very first cigarette and though he coughs when he takes a drag on it, nothing otherwise too terrible happens.
  • Double Subverted: But a flash forward shows Bob decades later, dying of cancer in the hospital after having continued to smoke all that time.
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  • Parodied: Bob has his first cigarette and instantly dies of cancer.
  • Zig Zagged: Some people smoke with no problems, others have problems that don't show up for decades, and others die of lung cancer within a week of their first cigarette.
  • Averted:
    • Bob doesn't smoke in-series.
    • Bob smokes, but the effects are either neglected, or presented more realistically (over time, not instantaneously)
  • Enforced: Moral Guardians, Very Special Episode, Can't Get Away with Nuthin', Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped, Scare 'em Straight
  • Lampshaded: "Bob, weren't you going on just last week about how bad smoking is for you?"
  • Invoked: The tobacco company adds something to the cigarettes they make to produce addiction (and thus generate revenue) faster.
  • Exploited: ???
  • Defied: "What, were you expecting me to have just started up smoking like a chimney over night? Get real".
  • Advertisement:
  • Discussed: "So...Bob's dying of emphysema 30 minutes after his first cigarette?"
  • Conversed: "Yeah...although smoking causes lots of health problems, they usually take decades to show up, not minutes".
  • Deconstructed: No matter how well-intentioned, being this Anvilicious has the effect of breaking the audience's Willing Suspension of Disbelief. (Using the above example, we all know someone who smokes, and many of us know someone who has/had serious health problems and/or died of smoking-related disease. But very few, if any, of us could claim to know (or even know of) someone who managed to compress the effects of decades' worth of smoking into 30 minutes.) Things just don't happen this way, so the Aesop becomes a Lost Aesop.
  • Reconstructed: If the effects of the action are presented in a more realistic fashion and spread out over the course of the series, the Aesop remains intact, and so does the Willing Suspension of Disbelief. The audience may actually learn something.
  • Played For Laughs: The vice is something small, like drinking out of the milk carton.
  • Played For Drama: Bob's ordinarily a health nut, but when he has to smoke a cigarette to keep up his facade, he finds himself quickly addicted, and continues to smoke even long after the need is over. His friends and colleagues try to get him to quit, but his smoking has made him so irritable that every attempt ends in a huge fight. Bob's mother eventually tells him that smoking is what killed his grandfather, and that their family is particularly predisposed to developing lung cancer, but even that is unable to waver him from his path. By the end of the episode, Bob's near death, and it's only through a miraculous last minute procedure that he's able to survive. Bob apologizes to all his tearful friends and laments that if only he had listened to them, none of this would have ever happened.

Back to Compressed Vice. Just don't squish it too hard.
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