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Playing With / Unequal Pairing

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Basic Trope: There is a noticeable power difference between two characters that are shipped, making one obviously dominant.

  • Straight: Bob is Alice's teacher and the two are shipped together very often, despite the fact that Bob could easily blackmail her into sleeping with him.
  • Exaggerated:
  • Downplayed: While Bob may be Alice's Bodyguard Crush, Alice can handle herself in a fight.
    • Alice is a YouTube star and Bob is one of her fans. Or both Alice and Bob are YouTube content creators but Alice's channel is much larger than Bob's
  • Justified:
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    • Alice is wimpified.
    • Alice and Bob, despite their differences in power and status, treat each other as equals.
  • Inverted: Due to the nature of this trope, it's impossible to invert. However a heavily subverted version can occur that is mimics the effects of an inversion, where the one with less official power very clearly "wears the pants" in the relationship, reversing the expected power dynamic.
  • Subverted:
    • Bob seems more powerful, but Alice turns out to be the long-lost heir to a vast fortune with many connections at her fingertips, which places her higher than Bob.
    • Alice actually is the one with the power in the relationship, and she uses it to undermine his authority over her.
  • Double Subverted: But then Alice loses that fortune, causing her and Bob to be right back at where they started.
  • Parodied:
    • Fangirls draw yaoi/slash fan art of Bob and God together, only to decide that Bob is too powerful for the pairing to work.
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    • The fans cry out that Alice and Bob are finally an Official Couple with no evidence to support this. When asked "why", they say that Bob is more powerful than Alice.
  • Zig-Zagged:
    • Alice and Bob are also in an on-and-off again relationship.
    • Alice and/or Bob keeps changing their position in power.
    • The fandom switch back and forth between shipping Alice and Bob together to being against the Bob/Alice pairing.
    • Alice is reach and Bob is poor. However, Bob is a teacher and Alice is his student. Then, she is an Action Girl who can beat him into a pulp without breaking a sweat. On the other hand, he is a Manipulative Bastard who can wrap her around his finger without her noticing. And so on.
  • Averted: Alice and Bob have relatively equal status and power.
  • Enforced:
    • The canon author or a fan (fic writer) wants to explore power dynamics and how they can affect relationships. So they ship Alice and Bob together.
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    • The fans think Power Is Sexy and use Alice as an Audience Surrogate.
    • Alternatively, Alice is an Author Avatar and the author thinks Power Is Sexy.
  • Lampshaded: ???
  • Invoked: Alice or Bob thinks Power Is Sexy and only goes for powerful people.
  • Exploited: Bob blackmails Alice.
  • Defied:
    • Alice refuses to be in relationships with anyone who has power over her even if she really likes them.
    • A Fan Fic writer makes an Alternate Universe Fic where Bob isn't Alice's teacher.
  • Discussed: ???
  • Conversed: ???

Back to Unequal Pairing, my servant.
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