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Playing With / Wants a Prize for Basic Decency

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Basic Trope: A character demands praise for doing something completely ordinary.

  • Straight: Bob demands a raise for showing up to work on time.
  • Exaggerated: Bob demands a prize for not being a serial murderer.
  • Downplayed:
    • Bob demands a pat on the head from his supervisor every time he takes out the trash without spilling everything everywhere. Annoying, perhaps, but endearing in a way.
    • Bob is a reformed juvenile delinquent, and as a reformed and virtuous man, he understands that wanting a prize for basic decency is one of the many habits that the members of polite society may find annoying. But when he meets people from his old neighborhood who give him the Reformed, but Rejected treatment, he demands that they should acknowledge that he hasn't done any of his old victimizing behaviors in years, so stop bringing up old grudges!
  • Justified:
    • Bob was raised spoiled and has no idea how normal people interact.
    • Bob is a jerk who treats other people badly, and expects to be rewarded for acting like a decent human being.
    • Bob has compulsions towards evil, and it takes a lot of effort on his part to fight these urges. Regular rewards make it easier for him to stick to his rehab/training regimen.
    • Bob is mentally or psychologically impaired in some way, and things which seem effortless take enormous amounts of energy for him to do.
    • Bob has recently reformed and wants it noted how far he's come.
    • Bob lives in a Crapsack World where basic human decency deserves a medal.
    • Bob was raised by Abusive Parents and his idea of basic human decency was set by his parents' treatment of him.
    • Bob is outright a toddler and doesn't yet understand that there's no reward for doing things you're supposed to, and in fact there might be a punishment or unpleasant consequence for NOT doing them.
  • Inverted:
    • Bob is normally a very well-behaved and law-abiding man who turns himself in to the police for driving one MPH over the speed limit.
    • Bob is a Humble Hero who, when presented with rewards for saving his city and country on numerous occasions, tells basically Think Nothing of It as his acceptance speech.
    • Bob is a Card-Carrying Villain, and wants a prize from the Big Bad for not behaving with basic decency, thus distinguishing him from the Minion with an F in Evil who claims to be evil but is actually a decent moral agent.
    • Bob is extremely grateful for the kind of small and common courtesies that the average person will tend to take for granted. It's so noticeable that you could describe him as being eager to give prizes for basic decency.
  • Subverted:
    • Bob brags that he isn't a mass murderer. When Alice sarcastically asks him if he wants a medal, he says no.
    • Advertisement:
    • It turns out that the "prize" Bob wants for basic human decency would, itself, also fall within the realm of human decency, such as "I'd appreciate it if you didn't beat the crap out of me."
  • Double Subverted:
    • But when Alice then says, "All right, then, I won't give you one," he whines about it.
    • Bob finishes his request "I'd appreciate it if you didn't beat the crap out of me... for that last round of kids I murdered."
    • Alice agrees to give Bob his requested "prize," but then expects a prize when she doesn't beat Bob badly as she usually does.
  • Parodied:
    • Bob presents an itemized list of bad things he has never done and demands rewards equally and inversely proportionate to their immorality for all of them.
    • Bob thinks being Damned by Faint Praise is good.
    • Bob is the Punch-Clock Hero's logical extreme.
    • Someone gives Bob an actual framed diploma saying "This certifies that Bob is a decent human being."
  • Zig Zagged: Bob wants to be rewarded for quotidian "goodness" sometimes, but not all the time.
  • Averted: Bob is a decent person and doesn't feel entitled to rewards for decency.
  • Enforced: The writers want to show that not everyone is motivated to be normal without asking for something in return.
  • Lampshaded: "Sheesh, Bob, do you want a medal?"
  • Invoked: Bob sees Chrissy get commendation for something and decides he should get it too, being unaware she was commended for going above and beyond.
  • Exploited:
  • Defied: "No, I do not want a medal. Go fuck yourself, Ms. Smartass!"
  • Discussed: "Bob won't shut up about how much he deserved that promotion that he got passed over for because he just works so hard. Newsflash: YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO WORK HARD, YOU FUCKING DINGDONG! Try not being a useless alcoholic who won't shut up about how you always bust your ass and never get any credit for it while leaving out the part where you suck at your job and your 'hard work' creates more 'hard work' for the people who have to fix what you fucked up!"
  • Conversed: "Oh look, there goes Bob with ANOTHER lengthy public spiel on social media about how he's such a wonderful person because he holds a bunch of social views that are predominately held to be desirable. Give me a goddamn break, you pompous fuck. You're one of the biggest pieces of shit I know." "Have you ever noticed how the worst people always tend to virtue-signal the loudest? I guess it's easier to make a big show of how you're totally not a garbage person rather than, y'know, not being a garbage person."
  • Implied: Bob gets paid for picking up after himself, unlike everyone else, for whom this is treated as normal.
  • Deconstructed:
    • Bob's boss thinks about how to motivate Bob to start meeting minimal standards of good behavior, and decides to try giving Bob the lavish praise he obviously wants. This works well, and Bob's performance rises from "inadequate" to "minimally meeting a low standard." Which was all the success that the boss had expected or tried for.
    • If Bob is a reformed criminal, no matter how many good deeds he has done, no one bothers to give him the time of the day, especially those who tell off Bob for not doing good for its own sake. Because of this, Bob stops doing good and lashes out at those who reject his good deeds.
  • Reconstructed: But after a while, Bob's coworker Alice starts complaining: "I work incredibly hard, and all I hear is praise for that mediocre Bob. Worse, now he's all self-righteous every time someone argues with him, because he thinks he's actually as good a worker as someone like me. I gotta tell you, it's bad for morale." Since the boss realizes that what's really important is to have good performance from Alice, he starts giving praise in a way that puts Alice's concerns ahead of Bob's.

Here's a link back to Wants a Prize for Basic Decency. Now, Dude, Where's My Reward?

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