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Hello there.

Can't be bothered to say much about myself at the moment. May update this later, if I am provided with the necessary motivation. All that's really relevent to say is that I'm mostly concerned with Speculative Fiction and Comedy tropes. I was hoping that there would be a way to automatically generate the list of topics I've contributed to (as long as I used a Wiki Word), but I can't see one. Ho hum.


I will say that most of the examples I've contrubuted have been from British comedy series and US sci-fi series. I also seem to be the only person to have included examples from Iain M. Banks's Culture novels, which I suppose is something to be proud of.

Well, an update: I am now the proud creator of the trope Do Not Adjust Your Set (thanks to Seven Seals for the name). Since it's the first page I've created, I'm going to copy the text of it here, in case it's edited by someone else later, because I'm quite proud of it:

" So you're a Diabolical Mastermind. You have your secret base, your evil orbital Death Ray, your right-hand man, your henchmen, and you're poised to take over the World. But how do you let the World know that you're ready? A few emails to the world leaders? An letter to the tabloid press? Well, why bother going to all that trouble when you could simply take over every television channel and network in the world?


Yes, no matter what sort of evil scheme he has planned, or how well funded his operation is, any Evil Genius worth his salt can just flick a switch, and his image will instantly be transmitted to every TV set in the world, so that he can tell everybody about his evil plans all at once. No explanation is ever given for how he does this, it's just assumed to be something that every supervillain can do automatically. The device is probably given to them for free upon graduation from Evil Academy (along with a pool of sharks).

This completeness of his takeover of the airwaves will almost certainly be shown on screen with a shot of an electrical store with a bank of TVs in its window, all showing different channels, but then all of them winking out one by one to be replaced by the villain's smug face.


Alternatively, it could be demonstrated with a montage of different people around the world watching different channels, which are then replaced by the evil transmission. If played for laughs, most people will probably ignore the message itself and bang the top of the TV set, hoping to get their programmes back. Of course, this won't work. The villain's first act of mildly-annoying evil is complete. Now it's time to tell the world what else he has planned.

The actual speech usually comes in one of three flavours:

  • It could be a simple announcement that the villain is their new leader, and that everyone will obey him. If this is the case, then the actual plan itself will be very quick and easy, and will usually begin as soon as the transmission has put across the vital information (he wouldn't want to spoil the surprise by putting it into operation before people have been suitably shocked by his announcement) and will be complete by the time the transmission ends. The transition will be seemless, and the villain now rules the world. It will then be up to the Heroes to wrest power back from him.
  • It could be an Ultimatum - the villain has a superweapon poised to devastate the Earth (or at least its major cities). He wants something. Maybe he doesn't have a plan to actually take over the world, and is threatening to destroy it unless it is handed to him on a plate. Maybe he wants money (although if this is the case he will usually just transmit directly to the UN). Maybe he wants a piece of technology that somebody else has. Maybe he just wants the Hero's head brought to him. Whatever he wants, he is willing to destroy Civilisation unless he gets it, or unless the Heroes can stop him.
  • He might just be giving a friendly warning - he's going to destroy the world in 12 hours. In this case, he's simply insane. He doesn't want anything, he's just destroying the world on a whim, and wants you all to know it so he can enjoy laughing at your terror. If this is the case, he will literally do it - once he mentions the term "destroy the world", everybody watching (apart from the Heroes, of course) will begin screaming, and we will be treated to a montage of various rooms with screaming people running around, and the TV set with just the villain laughing on it in the background. Fortunately, his desire to witness the world's panic gives the Heroes plenty of time to foil his evil plans.

Shame I couldn't think of any examples. Ah well, you win some, you lose some.

Update: I've now also written the initial description of Book Dumb. I thought I'd store my original text here too, since it'll be interesting to see how different it is in a few months' time:

" Many main characters in children's shows (and in adult's shows featuring children) are explicitly shown as doing very badly in school, despite showing themselves to be of at least average intelligence in most other areas of life. This isn't inconsistency on the part of the writers, though. The kid is just Book Dumb.

Making your child character Book Dumb is seen as a great way to appeal to the masses (because Viewers Are Morons) without having to show them being outsmarted by other characters on a regular basis. A Book Dumb character will usually show excellent "street smarts" and is often very good at problem solving most of the time, but he (and it is always a boy) is no good at functioning within the regimented learning system of our schools. Maybe he's just not good at that type of learning. Maybe he's clever, but can't resist an opportunity for mischief. In extreme cases, he may even be a genius or inventor at home, but devolves into a functionally-illiterate bad boy as soon as he steps through the school gates.

His own attitude to his schooling varies considerably, often within the same series. One episode may call for him to seem to care about his problem, and try very hard to get the work done, while another episode may show him really not caring about schoolwork at all. This doesn't matter - as long as the writer gets across that this character isn't some kind of fancy intellectual that they should sneer at, then the Book Dumb has done its job.

This is also common among adults, who will be portrayed as not having done very well at school, even though today they may be a famous novelist, celebrated artist, top sportsman, or Nuclear Safety Inspector. If the character is doing a non-creative job, they will usually be just as ineffective in their job as they were at school (though always managing to avoid being fired), while displaying considerable intelligence in other areas of their life.

More or less the polar opposite of the stereotypical Geek, who does excellently in school but is shown as being almost completely incompetent in all other areas of life. Both can be very intelligent people, but only in certain circumstances. The different attitudes of most people to each type of character betray our society's mistrust of intellect.

  • Bart Simpson is clearly an excellent example of this - at school, he is falling behind everybody else, barely managing to stay in his own year, whereas in his spare time he thwarts criminals and solves mysteries, often displaying intuitive thinking skills on a par with his sister Lisa.
    • In fact, most of the male characters in The Simpsons fit either the child or adult versions of this trope to some extent, including Bart, Homer, Barney, Nelson, etc.
  • Dennis the Menace (the British version, at least) is an example of this being taken to a ridiculous degree - in the comics these days, Dennis even has a futuristic car that he designed himself, with protective armour and water cannons, and yet is shown to be completely (and cheerfully) lost at school.
  • Calvin of Calvin And Hobbes is shown to be very far behind his classmates academically, but is a locquacious philosopher in his spare time, showing a vocabulary and critical thinking skills way in advance of what you could expect from a normal six-year-old.


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