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Unintentionally Unsympathetic Cleanup

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Forenperser Foreign Troper from Germany
Foreign Troper
Jul 9th 2018 at 9:42:07 AM

Looks fine by me.

Jul 9th 2018 at 5:55:48 PM

The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars:

  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic:
    • The writer appears to have been trying to create sympathy for Asami and Korra by showing their uncertainty and anxiety about their friends' reactions to their new relationship. This is not entirely unsuccessful in itself, but in Korra's case at least her troubledness also tends to shade over into callous insensitivity to others, and even reckless irresponsibility at times. This doesn't sit well with fans, who feels that it effectively undoes her Character Development from the latter seasons of the show, and reverts her back to her old characterization from Season One.
      • While one may fairly suppose that she is under significant emotional pressure at this time, Korra accusing Tonraq of being narrow-minded and storming out of the house when he advises her to be careful about outing herself as bisexual nonetheless serves to make her look like a bit of a jerk. Especially since he personally had no problem with it, and was overjoyed to hear that she and Asami were together. Korra eventually realizes his point, but still doesn't even appear to consider explaining or apologizing while they're still on the same side of the portal. The fact that this is put off until Part 3 adds to this and another example of the franchise's habit of Doylism.
      • In part 2, she goes into outright Smug Super territory when she walks into a public meeting with the displaced persons and angrily demands that President Raiko remove the military detachment he sent to secure the spirit portal after the literal pitched battles there in the previous issue. Then, when Raiko's aide Wenyan points out the impropriety of the way she acts, she casually metalbends a steel gag around his mouth, leaving him frantically tearing at it as he seemingly can't breathe. While all of this could be forgiven due to Korra's genuine fear of another spirit crisis happening, there's no evidence that points to a brewing spirit crisis as a result of Raiko's actions, so Korra's response to them can come off as a serious overreaction on her part.
    • An extremely minor example, but Bolin and Jinora can become this after telling Lin and Tenzin about Korra and Asami's relationship without the couple's (apparent) consent. While it isn't out of character for them to make that mistake (Jinora is, for all her maturity, a fourteen-year-old, and Bolin has an established habit of talking without thinking first), the fact that it's never addressed makes it feel less like the characters being Innocently Insensitive, and more a case of the writer not thinking things through.

I think we should wait until the story end in case it addresses this, as the second point suggest some awareness.

The last one I think definitely should be cut since it doesn't suggest they were supposed to be sympathetic. Can a "extremely minor" example count, since that's a Downplayed Trope any YMMV can't be played with?

Edited by Ferot_Dreadnaught on Jul 9th 2018 at 6:01:18 AM

Jul 9th 2018 at 7:45:46 PM

[up] I wrote the second entry, but am fine with its deletion. At the very least this needs to be editted to be less ranty. Some statements make no sense (habit of Doylism?)

nrjxll Relationship Status: Not war
Jul 9th 2018 at 8:38:05 PM

[up]I think I remember a previous Franchise Original Sin entry for that franchise being brought up and cut for (among other things) complete misuse of Watsonian versus Doylist. Bet you anything that this is the same editor at work.

Jul 9th 2018 at 11:08:37 PM

[up] Unless anyone argues for keeping within three days, I'd cut it. Objections?

Fighteer Lost in Space from The Time Vortex Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
Lost in Space
Jul 10th 2018 at 7:49:48 AM

As I mentioned in the "Is this an example" topic, Unintentionally Unsympathetic requires that the author be making an attempt to have the audience sympathize with a character due to emotional distress, trauma, or other typically Woobifying trait, and that this attempt fall flat or backfire.

The Korra examples shown above establish that people don't find certain actions to be sympathetic in a general sense, but there is no indication that the author is trying to tug our heartstrings about them, and thus they fail the first requirement of the audience reaction.

Edit: This may stem from a root confusion about the application of "sympathetic". Audiences in general are supposed to root for protagonists, and part of this comes from establishing sympathy for them. When the audience loses sympathy for the character, such as when they commit an unheroic or stupid act, that's certainly a thing, but that's not this trope. As I said above, the form of "sympathetic" meant by the trope is the active attempt to create sympathy or concern by playing on trauma or distress.

Edited by Fighteer on Jul 10th 2018 at 11:02:26 AM

"It's Occam's Shuriken! If the answer is elusive, never rule out ninjas!"
MisterTambourineMan The Tender of Blooms from Under a tree Relationship Status: Browsing the selection
The Tender of Blooms
Jul 20th 2018 at 4:18:44 PM

Naruto as a franchise gets a lot of hate on this wiki, and the entry here seems pretty bad.

  • Several of the Naruto characters fall into this sometimes as well due to the author's insistence on shoving the "everyone is redeemable" moral into our face.
    • The Uchiha Clan itself comes off as this. Despite being destroyed by Konoha, the manga repeatedly goes out of its way to show that they have been a violent, unstable clan since ancient times due to their Curse of Hatred mantra. The fact that the Uchiha also have warred amongst themselves with the reality abusing Izanagi, the way they gain power by killing their friends and siblings... and when responded by a good supposition that one of their own controlled Kurama — instead of helping in the investigation and enduring a bit of surveillance to catch the culprit they isolate themselves from the village and begin plotting a coup. The four main Uchiha members suffer from this the most:
      • Sasuke seems to be meant to be seen as a morally gray character being led down the wrong path by his obsession with revenge, but to a number of fans his Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, recent descent into mass murder of Samurai he could have easily defeated non-lethally, and callous disregard for how many people have to suffer for his own emotional satisfaction has caused a number of fans to think he does not deserve Naruto's goodwill or his being treated as redeemed despite making no attempt at redemption besides an offhand apology.
      • Itachi, for his Mind Rape of Sasuke and Kakashi, which the former kicked him down the slippery slope and never gets punished despite his good intentions. All because he "loved" and wanted to "protect" his "precious" little brother. It got worse when he was turned into a Spotlight-Stealing Squad in the Fourth Shinobi World War arc.
      • Obito orchestrated the Nine-Tails attack on Konoha, which killed Naruto's parents and made him an orphan, turned the Mist Village into a brutal dictatorship that resulted in hundreds of deaths, many of them children who were forced to fight each other to the death as part of their schooling, and started the Fourth Shinobi World War, resulting in thousands of more deaths. His only real motivation for any of this being because his love interest Rin died. Despite all of that, he's meant to be a sympathetic character who is deserving of Naruto's kindness because he was similar to Naruto as a child and simply strayed down the wrong path, and his death is meant to be seen as an Alas, Poor Villain moment, reuniting with Rin in the afterlife and presumably spending eternity happy with her despite all of his crimes.
      • The real Madara is painted as a Well-Intentioned Extremist whose attempts for peace in the past is declined in favor of his rival Hashirama. So what does he do after this? He immediately challenges the first Hokage to the death in hopes to destroy their entire creation of Konoha along with it. Right before his death he ended up being Easily Forgiven by Hashirama in spite of everything that he had previously done before Black Zetsu betrays him. Also, Hashirama wanted HIM, not his brother, to succeed him as Hokage as a show of how much he trusted and believed in his rival, making Madara look like an ungrateful Jerkass due to his betrayal, preferring to destroy the Leaf Village out of spite instead of believing in his friend's faith in him.
    • Similarly, the Belated Backstory of the legendary "Salamander" Hanzo, the ninja against whom the Sannin won their titles by surviving a battle with him sets Hanzo up as a Well-Intentioned Extremist who lost sight of his goals but is honored in defeat by his rival as a man who strove for peace. By starting a lot of wars and turning his homeland into an unlivable hellhole that produced the most psychologically broken, defeated human beings in the series, just because he was arrogant enough to think his strength could unite the world. Most fans still consider Hanzo an utterly unsympathetic character whose violent death at Pain's hands was richly deserved, as his claim of good intentions didn't make him any less of a paranoid warmongering dictator.
    • Danzo as well. The story claims he wants to protect the village. While turning kids into his personal soldiers, using a method in which two children bond together and then eventually fight one another to the death, upon which the survivor is so broken Danzo can just mold them into whatever he wants, creating one of the most twisted individuals in the continent in the process. He also decides to ignore the village in its Darkest Hour in order to allow the attacker to deal with his political competition for him so he can make a vie to making himself Hokage. He himself implies that he was involved with Orochimaru's Sand/Sound invasion, if only so far as to just sit back and let him get rid of Sarutobi instead of actively trying to stop him, that he helped Orochimaru with his experiments in the past before the Third Hokage wised up to what his student was doing and got off scot free, including the experiment that created Yamato, was outright STATED that he ripped out Uchiha Shisui's right eye to get at his super powered Sharingan, which could all but control your thoughts without you noticing he was GUIDING your thoughts and without any eye contact, right at the moment when Shisui, a Leaf Loyalist, was planning to use his powers to pacify his family and stop the coup before it even had a chance to even start, which in turn leads to the possibility that the decision to kill off the Uchiha might have been manipulated by Danzo using Shisui's eye powers to control their decisions in the first place, and when Danzo's own Belated Backstory was shown, it made it seem that his efforts were guided more by jealousy and an inferiority complex towards Sarutobi and a desire to prove himself better rather than his stated desire of wanting to keep the village safe. Had the story not tried selling us the character as a Well-Intentioned Extremist and instead acknowledged him as an Obliviously Evil Control Freak Knight Templar, he might not be such a divisive character.
    • Pain/Nagato, for many readers it was impossible to sympathize with someone who killed Jiraiya and Kakashi, leveled Konoha, and then stabbed Hinata right after she sincerely confessed her love to Naruto, mostly because his Belated Backstory wasn't any worse than other characters', like Haku's or Gaara's who didn't do anything that bad. Granted, at least he got somewhat better after his Redemption Equals Death to bring said Konohans Back from the Dead.
    • Karin's tearful reaction over Sasuke's near-death is supposed to be a Tear Jerker, but when her half-assed characterization (like how she easily forgave the same man who once try to kill her because she is just a burden despite healing him before) comes into play, her crying over Sasuke is instead met with complete apathy from the readers.
    • Sakura when she confessed her feelings for Sasuke at chapter 693; we're supposed to sympathize with her when her confession got "coldly" rejected by Sasuke, except that the person that is listening to this is the same person who shows no feelings for Sakura at all and attempted to kill her multiple times without remorse, giving fans the impression that she doesn't really develops any character beyond loving Sasuke regardless of his crimes. It got to the point that not only Sasuke has an unintentionally valid point regarding her but also made fans root for Sasuke to kill her and became disappointed when it is just a genjutsu. Her easily forgiving Sasuke's weak apology and marrying the same person in the future does not help her case.
    • The way Utakata's master Harusame tries to extract the Tailed Beast from his disciple in an anime-only Filler is supposed to be seen as good intentions to the point that upon realizing this, Utakata eventually rebuilt the pedestal with him after accidentally killing him. The problem is, extracting the Bijuu from a Jinchuuriki will also directly kill the host, and with no indication of Utakata having trouble with his Bijuu, nor even knowing why his master does it in the first place against his will, it comes off as Harusame crossing the Moral Event Horizon with Utakata having every right to defy his master and killing him sounds more like a Kick the Son of a Bitch than what is supposed to be.
    • Boruto Uzumaki, Naruto and Hinata's son. It's hard to sympathize with the boy who only wanted his father to come home when he is as bad (if not worse) than Naruto during his childhood. Unlike Naruto, Boruto doesn't have a crappy childhood but takes it all for granted and does the same antics his father used to do, all so his father can pay more attention to him. He keeps calling his father a bad parent, going as far as to wish he is dead and is unable to understand other people's feelings (such as complaining that his father is never around in front of Sarada, whose father was never with her for her whole life). And when Naruto finally spends some time with him, he ignores him and brushes away his affections.

It starts with some pretty bad complaining and gets worse from there. Some of these are outright wrong- Obito's not supposed to be sympathetic right after he's revealed as a villain, complete with Kakashi giving him a "Reason You Suck" Speech for turning heel. The "coolest guy" comment came after he changed sides again and died by Taking the Bullet for Team 7. Madara's not a well intentioned extremist; he's a guy who gave up on the world, and Naruto thinks he's a loser for it. Several of these are just complaining about characters caring about Sasuke. And I'm sure there's more I'm missing.

Jul 23rd 2018 at 8:47:07 AM


All of that does look pretty bad and it is basically all ranting. Feel free to cut most of it out or change it to being more neutral. I'll repeat what I said in the opening post. To qualify for being US:

1. It must be unintentional on the author's part. If the author planned for the reaction than the example is not legitimate. I'd even say that even if meant for it to be ambiguous and it is "your choice to choose" that is enough to disqualify an example since we are not getting a narrative forced upon us in those cases.

2. No ranting or complaining over the author, the characters, or at other real life people. Examples should be written from an unbiased viewpoint.

3. The example should be a big enough issue to cause a notable rift between the author and the audience. Like the Broken Base trope, it is all to easy for an editor to pass off their own opinion as a notable event worth recording. This is a trope about fan-bases not another way to do a Dethroning Moment of Suck.

Edited by DocJamore on Jul 23rd 2018 at 11:51:17 AM

Jul 25th 2018 at 11:23:33 PM

YMMV.Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom

  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Regardless of her motivations or circumstances, Maisie has been a particularly sore point among critics and fans alike for her decision to release all of the dinosaurs onto the mainland, thus becoming the main instigator for what is arguably the end of the human species as we know it.

This fails to explain why it's unintentional and the protagonists struggling with that decisions shows it was intentionally morally grey. And it admits the consequences are arguable (are their enough dinosaurs to make a valid breeding population?). Thoughts?

Edited by Ferot_Dreadnaught on Jul 25th 2018 at 11:29:19 AM

Jul 26th 2018 at 12:19:56 AM

[up] That doesn't seem like a valid example as it fails to explain why it's unintentional. Cut.

fishysaur Good for nothing
Good for nothing
Jul 28th 2018 at 3:09:22 AM

This example from YMMV/RWBY:

  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Some feel this way about Ilia Amitola, due to her willful participation in the White Fang's campaign against humanity and in the assassination attempt on Blake's parents. Many think that her backstory doesn't justify her actions and that her Heel–Face Turn is forced and let her go scot-free.

There isn't an impossible dream, there are only people who give up
Jul 28th 2018 at 6:00:37 AM

Courtesy link.

To note: the issue with the RWBY example is that there is a question mark over whether or not the creators were attempting to make her behaviour sympathetic in the first place, given that her storyline was that her best friend (Blake) was trying to save her from a dark path before she crossed one too many lines and her back story was used in-universe as morality chain to snap her back to her senses, and not to make people sympathise with what she was doing (in short, her back story was being used to show her parents would never have approved of the things she was now doing in their name).

In-universe, Blake easily forgives her, which upsets the police chief who thinks she's getting off scot-free. Cue An Aesop about the power of forgiveness. The problem for the fandom is that a lot of fans agree with the police chief and the question is, how to trope that. I'm wondering if, instead of Unintentionally Unsympathetic, this might be a Broken Aesop example: where part of the fanbase feels like the aesop is Karma Houdini instead of the power of forgiveness. The problem is that this feels like it should be YMMV rather than an objective trope.

Edited by Wyldchyld on Jul 28th 2018 at 2:11:20 PM

If my post doesn't mention a giant flying sperm whale with oversized teeth and lionfish fins for flippers, it's just not worth reading.
fishysaur Good for nothing
Good for nothing
Jul 28th 2018 at 7:06:42 AM

[up] Kind of. She was initially treated as an anti-villain (since she believed she was doing the right thing), but after her Heel–Face Turn, we're supposed to stand by Blake's side, not the police chief, and accept Ilia. The problem is that for many her action were too extreme and a simple "I'm good now" isn't enough to make her Heel–Face Turn feel genuine. Also her backstory has never been shown (and this fact is objectively true) which makes harder to understand her

Also, remember that YMMV is about how a part of the fandom feels, even if you don't belong to it (like me, and I think you too, in this entry), therefore it's highly subjective

At worst, maybe it's the Police chief who's viewed as Unintentionally Sympathetic (since many apparently agreed with him)

Edited by fishysaur on Jul 28th 2018 at 7:26:27 AM

There isn't an impossible dream, there are only people who give up
Jul 28th 2018 at 7:59:03 AM

Yes, but my concern has nothing to do with the validity of how fans feel. If you notice, I'm trying to find the correct trope to document it, not silence the fans who feel this way. The issue is whether the creators intended to make her sympathetic prior to her Heel–Face Turn, which isn't subjective; while we're certainly expected to take Blake's side throughout, Blake herself considers Ilia's behaviour unacceptable, which is why creator intention is a valid concern.

I agree with the Unintentionally Sympathetic assessment. Perhaps that's the way to trope this? Forget about the attempt to apply Unintentionally Unsympathetic to Ilia (which falls foul of creator intention issues) and instead trope the police chief as Unintentionally Sympathetic, given that's exactly what the response was of the fans that don't like the ease of the Heel–Face Turn. It's also easier to show that the creators wanted us to side with Blake against the police chief because they go out of their way to have Ghira step in to deliver the aesop which silences him.

Edited to add: Actually, would it be Strawman Has a Point rather than Unintentionally Sympathetic? The police chief exists to get an aesop about forgiveness thrown at him, but some of the fandom feels he had the better point. There isn't really a role here for making the police chief more sympathetic, but for siding with him against the creator-intended message.

What do you think?

Edited by Wyldchyld on Jul 28th 2018 at 4:29:14 PM

If my post doesn't mention a giant flying sperm whale with oversized teeth and lionfish fins for flippers, it's just not worth reading.
fishysaur Good for nothing
Good for nothing
Jul 28th 2018 at 8:26:57 AM

If Blake found Ilia's actions unacceptable, she wouldn't have accepted her

Yes, maybe Unintetional Sympathetic for the police chief is best way to explain it (althtough no one exactly said "I'm with police guard here")

There isn't an impossible dream, there are only people who give up
AnotherDuck No, the other one. from Stockholm Relationship Status: In season
No, the other one.
Jul 28th 2018 at 8:34:37 AM

I'm not sure there's a strawman there. Someone who's supposed to be wrong isn't necessarily a strawman. Someone who's supposed to be wrong and is presented as some cardboard scarecrow is a strawman. If the character supposed to be wrong is meant to have a fair point, then it's not a strawman, and I think that's the case here.

I also don't think you absolutely have to agree with Blake either, or that that's the only option the creators assume of the audience. We've seen characters been wrong before, Blake in particular. She's not exactly a moral guidance character.

Edited by AnotherDuck on Jul 28th 2018 at 6:10:14 PM

Check out my fanfiction!
Jul 28th 2018 at 8:34:40 AM

[up][up]Forgiveness doesn't mean accepting prior behaviour, it means feeling that the appropriate reaction is to forgive instead of punish.

[up]Fair enough on the strawman point. I don't tend to use the trope, so I'm never quite sure when it should be used.

Edited by Wyldchyld on Jul 28th 2018 at 4:36:40 PM

If my post doesn't mention a giant flying sperm whale with oversized teeth and lionfish fins for flippers, it's just not worth reading.
fishysaur Good for nothing
Good for nothing
Jul 28th 2018 at 9:39:06 AM

I think Unintentionally Sympathetic fits; he isn't meant to be a Straw Man, especially because he appears just quickly because... reasons

Edited by fishysaur on Jul 28th 2018 at 9:49:05 AM

There isn't an impossible dream, there are only people who give up
AnotherDuck No, the other one. from Stockholm Relationship Status: In season
No, the other one.
Jul 28th 2018 at 10:25:13 AM

I don't think it fits either. I got the impression that it was a decision by Blake that was supposed to be one that was hard to accept. Whether you agreed wasn't the point; the point was that she took a decision that reflects her opinion of it. If you were supposed to just accept it because it was "the right choice", then it would reflect the overall morality, not Blake's own opinion. It's the best choice for her, but not necessarily something we're supposed to agree with.

I think there's often a mistaken belief that just because a main character does something, we're automatically supposed to agree. But quite frequently, the ambiguity is the point. Probably more obvious when it's more highlighted and done by clearly morally ambiguous characters, such as in The Last of Us (which I'm not going to detail because spoilers, but it's probably obvious to anyone who knows about it).

Check out my fanfiction!
fishysaur Good for nothing
Good for nothing
Jul 28th 2018 at 2:17:19 PM

Look, do as you prefer, it's not even something that widespread, so it's not a big deal; but in this series there's nothing ambiguous, and Blake's forgiveness of Ilia is clearly supposed to be appreciated, not that either you like it or don't

Edited by fishysaur on Jul 28th 2018 at 2:26:33 AM

There isn't an impossible dream, there are only people who give up
Aug 6th 2018 at 10:41:43 AM

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic S8 E14 "A Matter of Principals":

  • Some have also felt that Starlight Glimmer fell into this as well, since at this point she should know that "doing things the way Twilight would" is a horrible idea for her, and that she just gave Discord a stern warning after he had used an illusion to attack children yet blasted him into oblivion after he insulted her, suggesting some very skewed priorities on her part. Also, naming Discord vice-headmare (even if it didn't last long) despite the objections of the children he terrorized is also a questionable decision.

Some makes it look weak and it doesn't explain why she's supposed to be sympathetic despite this.

AnotherDuck No, the other one. from Stockholm Relationship Status: In season
No, the other one.
Aug 6th 2018 at 12:49:33 PM

[up]Some of those things sound like deliberate (narratively speaking) mistakes, rather than things we're supposed to root for.

Check out my fanfiction!
Aug 6th 2018 at 4:36:11 PM

[up] I've removed it since Some = Weasel Words and it doesn't explain why she's supposed to be sympathetic. She might count if it were rewritten to reflect this, but until then...

Aug 10th 2018 at 8:28:19 PM

YMMV.My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic S 8 E 17 The End In Friend:

  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Twilight Sparkle, for essentially derailing Rainbow Dash and Rarity's day for the sake of an impromptu friendship lesson. Not very professional.

Fails too explain why Twilights supposed to be sympathetic, and Rainbow Dash and Rarity agree to volunteer for the lessen. Cut?

Aug 10th 2018 at 8:58:21 PM

[up] Cut. It doesn't explain why she's meant to be sympathetic.

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