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Playing With / Superhero Paradox

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Basic Trope: Superheroes seem to be more trouble than they're worth.

  • Straight: Tropopolis just had regular gangs before Bob the Super-Troper appeared, and now a whole rogues gallery menaces the city.
  • Exaggerated: Tropopolis used to be a crime-free utopia, and now it faces a literal Monster of the Week, as in 52 supervillain attacks, alien invasions, etc. every year.
  • Downplayed: Bob the Super-Troper doesn't have to fight supervillains, but occasionally roughs up the wrong person and causes collateral damage in his "battles".
  • Justified:
    • Meta Origin: Supervillains are caused by the same thing as superheroes.
    • Create Your Own Villain: Superheroes play into the backstory or motivation of their nemesis.
    • Escalation: Once someone was crazy enough to put on tights to stop crime, it was only a matter of time until someone was crazy enough to do the opposite.
    • Heroic Lightning Rod: Villains want to fight the hero for whatever reason, so attacking their home city is a great way to draw them out.
  • Inverted:
    • Supervillains and major disasters were decreased drastically by the presence of superheroes or came first.
    • The actions of the setting's villains are inadvertently making it impossible for criminals to benefit from crime.
  • Subverted: The negative impacts of the hero are simply overemphasized and it turns out crime and destruction is actually on the downturn.
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  • Double Subverted: But only after a huge initial spike once the hero first appeared.
  • Parodied: Not one minute after their origin story does Bob find himself the sole cause of a supervillain-overrun world.
  • Zig Zagged: Bob's comic constantly changes writers with different political views leading to some stories where superheroics are a completely necessary and inconsequential fight with Black and White Morality and others where superheroes are nothing more than vigilantes who are just as dangerous to the people they "save" as the people they "clean up".
  • Averted: The existence of superheroes is an unquestionable good.
  • Enforced: A writer wants to explore how vigilantism may cause more problems than it creates.
  • Lampshaded: Two characters debate in-universe on whether superheroes are actually good for the world.
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  • Invoked: The villain encourages Bob to become a hero, specifically because Bob's efforts at heroism will in the long run be more destructive to Tropopolis than any one act of direct villainy.
  • Exploited: A supervillain goads the hero into causing collateral damage knowing how the public will turn on them.
  • Defied:
    • A superhero actively tries to limit collateral damage, prevent people from becoming too complacent to protect themselves, and ensures that as few supervillains can rise to prominence as possible.
    • "Before any of you assholes starts to whine about how we were all safer until superheroes showed up, I'm going to ask you a question: [Points at Galactus knock-off high in the sky] Would you have been able to do anything about this?"
  • Discussed: "Everything was going fine until the heroes showed up."
  • Conversed: "How come supervillains always seem to sprout like weeds right after their origin story?"
  • Implied: Bob saves the day, but when he goes home he turns on the news only to hear about the people he didn't save, and how the defeated villain will just be back for more.
  • Deconstructed:
    • Superheroes all go into retirement seeing as they're the cause of all their problems.
    • Superhuman people who run around harming the people around them are effectively villains, even if they consider themselves otherwise, and it's not long before Tropopolis treats them as such. It's not long before the setting devolves into an ugly conflict between heroes and citizens; whoever wins, there's no one around that can really be called a superhero after the dust settles.
  • Reconstructed: The people of Tropopolis come to realize that superheroes can cause unintended damage, sometimes quite lot of it, just like many other elements of society that are seen as necessary (police, armies, lawyers). And just like those other things, there's ultimately no way around needing them- when Zardox the Devourer shows up in orbit, superheroes are simply the only solution.
  • Played For Drama: The hero has to deal with protests to their actions.
  • Played For Laughs: All superhumans are super-destructive dumbasses, "hero" and "villain" alike. The complaint is well-founded in how annoying they are.
  • Played For Horror: The citizens of Tropopolis lynch all superhumans out of fear of this happening.
  • Plotted A Good Waste: The series is a homage to Golden Age/Silver Age tropes and the people who talk about this trope are strawmen who get put in their place to the cry of "Silly Rabbit, Cynicism Is for Losers!"

In a world of superheroes, we just don't feel safe anymore. Let's evacuate Tropopolis and contemplate the Superhero Paradox.

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