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Playing With / Wicked Stepmother

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Basic Trope: A character has a step-parent (usually female) who is cruel to them.

  • Straight: Bob's new stepmother, Alice, is mean to him and treats him like an unpaid servant.
  • Exaggerated: Alice beats Bob nearly to death every morning, then makes him live in the stables and wear leftover napkins for clothing.
  • Downplayed:
    • Alice makes rude remarks about Bob behind his back.
    • Given that Bob is already a young adult, he does not consider his father's new wife to be an authority figure to him.
  • Justified:
    • Her actions are for the ultimate good of the stepchildren.
    • Alice's husband Charles favors Bob blindly, and the Alice can't take it out on him, so she takes it out on Bob.
    • Times are hard, money is short, and Alice wants her own children to survive and prosper, which means nothing for Bob.
  • Inverted:
    • Alice is kinder to Bob than his original mother had been.
    • Bob is needlessly, pointlessly cruel to Alice, who's done nothing to provoke him.
    • Alice is kinder to Bob than to her own children.
    • Alice has no children of her own, and regards Bob as her own son.
  • Gender Inverted: Bob has an evil stepfather.
  • Subverted:
    • Bob describes his stepmother as such, but he's also an Unreliable Narrator.
    • Bob and Alice get off to a rough start, but eventually reach an understanding, and their relationship improves significantly.
  • Double Subverted:
    • …but on this matter, he's telling the truth.
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    • Unfortunately, a number of circumstances (which may or may not be within Bob and Alice's control) leads to their relationship souring once more, and Alice being worse than ever.
  • Parodied:
    • The stepmother is the wickedest person in the neighborhood yet literally no one notices.
    • Alice does nothing more than Poke the Poodle, yet a Knight in Shining Armor is determined to save Bob from her when Bob neither notices or cares.
  • Zig Zagged: Alice's treatment of Bob varies from reasonable to hostile.
  • Averted: Alice is generally supportive of Bob.
  • Enforced: Moral Guardians object to Abusive Parents, so they become stepparents.
  • Lampshaded: "She's my wicked stepmother. That's what describes her best."
  • Invoked: Alice believes Misery Builds Character, and behaves accordingly.
  • Exploited: Bob's father wants him to leave home, so he marries a cruel woman.
  • Defied:
    • Alice is careful to treat her stepchildren fairly so that she doesn't become one of these.
    • Bob's father makes sure to marry a woman who would care equally for all their children.
    • Bob's father makes sure Alice treats Bob fairly, and makes an arrangement that if he dies before Alice, Bob will live with his grandparents.
  • Discussed: "And that is my stepmother." "Evil?" "But of course."
  • Conversed: "You notice there are never any good stepmothers in these stories?"
  • Deconstructed: The stepmother's continued mistreatment of Bob alienates Bob's father, who divorces her.
  • Reconstructed: But because he was himself abused, he marries another woman who is equally bad.
  • Played For Laughs: Alice thinks she has to be like this since all the stepmothers in fiction are evil. However, she's too dense and too nice to actually pull it off, so Bob either pities her or ignores her.
  • Played For Drama: Alice is an abusive monster, but no one will believe Bob when he tries to tell someone what's going on. This severely damages his ability to trust others, or to have a healthy relationship with someone, and he winds up moving out at a young age to get away from her.

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