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Not Tropeworthy: Bi The Way

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Apr 6th 2020 at 10:14:31 PM

There has been confusion regarding the definition of this trope. The page and laconic would indicate that it is about a character’s bisexuality being an Informed Attribute, which may be redundant with But Not Too Bi. However, other interpretations have been offered, arguing that it can apply to a bisexual character as long as their bisexuality is not “treated as a big deal”, though what exactly that means is not agreed upon. Others have argued that the trope is simply used for any bisexual character, who are rendered tropeworthy by their rarity. An argument I believe that the previous two definitions are Chairs, and the first is more defensible as a trope but probably redundant.

Wick checkPages listed several times had multiple wicks on the same page.

The categories I used are as follows:

“Character is bisexual”/ potholes for bisexual characters: The entry simply states either that the character has had relationships with multiple genders or that they identify as bisexual. I also included cases of potholing either the names of bisexual characters or references to a character’s bisexuality here. The ones marked “ZCE” only consist of the names of characters. I assume that means those characters are bi, but the entries give no indication.

Concept of bisexuality: Cases where the trope is used to refer to bisexuality in general, either potholing the trope for the word “bisexual” or references to the idea or in some cases using the trope’s name in place of the word.

Only For One Gender/ informed attribute: These give enough context to indicate that they fall under the “Informed Attribute” definition of the trope

Speculation: I these cases the character’s bisexuality doesn’t even seem to be a canonical fact, and is fan speculation

Word of god: The entry states that the character’s sexuality is not in the text and was only confirmed by Word of God.

     Wick Check 

“Character is bisexual”

1. Accidental Adultery

2. Anguished Declaration of Love

3. My Boyfriend Is A Vampire

4. Big Brother 9

5. Daily Life With Monster Girl Main Characters

6. Daily Life With Monster Girl Online

7. Danganronpa 2 — Female Students

8. Characters/Disappeared

9. Dragon Age – Recurring Party Members: Part Two

10. Earth Twenty Seven Fables

11. Earth Twenty Seven Fables

12. Earth Twenty Seven Fables

13. Fate/Grand Order - Sabers G to M

14.Fluttering Feelings

15. Fluttering Feelings

16. Friendship Is for Adults

17. Friendship Is for Adults

18. Hotspring Souls!

19. Mass Effect - Commander Shepard: notably uses “this trope” in substitute for the word “bisexual”

20. Pixie Trix Comix

21. Star Wars: The Old Republic - Fallen Empire-Specific Characters

22. Star Wars: The Old Republic - Fallen Empire-Specific Characters

23. Superjail Citizens

24. The Legend of Drizzt

25. Wonder Woman: Earth One

26. Wonder Woman: Earth One

27. Charlize Theron: A real person, not a character who is “treated” any way by a narrative

28. Nyle DiMarco: A real person, not a character who is “treated” any way by a narrative

29. Aeternus Eternus

30. My Knight In Shining Armor Wears A Skirt

31. Once Upon A Shooting Star

32. we're jerry springer, not casablanca.: ZCE

33. World of the Dead

34. Film/Axeman

35. The Party (2017)

36. Ahriman Trilogy

37. Heechee Saga: ZCE

38. Incarnations of Immortality

39. Patience and Sarah

40. Usotsuki Lily

41. The Pipettes

42. Pantheon/Heirs

43. Like Brother and Sister

44. Crashing (UK)

45. iZombie

46. Motherland: Fort Salem

47. Tropes A-H

48. God of War III

49. Big Sky Country

50. Tropes 0 To E: Lists several characters, all zce

51. Game Theory

52. Real-Time Fandub

53. Foxy Flavored Cookie: zce

54. Manala Next Door

55. Val and Isaac

Concept of bisexuality

1. "Rashomon"-Style

2. Vulgar Humor

3. You Must Be Cold

4. Dathings 1

5. Anime & Manga

6. Codes And Geass: Embracing Your Inner Megalomania

7. Gemma Doyle: Uses a link to the trope in place of the word “bisexual”

8. No Bisexuals

9. Not Blood Siblings

10. Trivia/WITCH

11. Yearning: A Gay Story

12. Warp That Aesop/Tropes

Informed Attribute

1. Dancougar Nova

2. Dr. STONE

3. Characters/Transfusions: “Mentions she was this”, using the trope as substitute for the word “bisexual”

4. Within the Wires

5. Within the Wires

6. A Diva's Christmas Carol

7. DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story


1. Likes Older Men: References a character who’s bisexuality appears to be fan speculation

2. Threesome Subtext

3. Gonna Be the Twin-Tail!!

4. Puella Magi Madoka Magica - Supporting Characters

5. Superjail Citizens

6. The Age Of Gargoyles Xanatos Enterprises

7. Witch Hunter A Class WH

8. Card Captor Harry: “Apparently”

9. Before I Fall

10. iZombie

11. iZombie

12. Big Sky Country

Word of god

1. Survival Despair 2: Panromantic

2. Sweet/Vicious

62.5% of wicks simply use the trope to refer to a character being bisexual, and another 13.6% use the trope to refer to the general idea of bisexuality. Another 13.6% use the trope to refer to characters who are not even canonically bisexual, and another 2.3% for characters whose bisexuality is on. Only 8% of uses give enough context to determine that the character’s bisexuality is treated casual and/or an Informed Attribute.

I believe that the trope is Chairs and should be cut, given that it is overwhelmingly used to simply state a character’s sexuality while giving no context as to how it’s presented in the narrative.

Edited by TheMountainKing on Apr 6th 2020 at 1:19:41 PM

Berrenta The STRONGEST gift-giver from Texas Relationship Status: Can't buy me love
The STRONGEST gift-giver
Apr 24th 2020 at 12:58:13 PM

Sorry for the wait, ~The Mountain King.

Wick check looks good, so opening for discussion.

TRS needs your help!
Brainulator9 Short-Term Projects herald from US Relationship Status: I get a feeling so complicated...
Short-Term Projects herald
Apr 24th 2020 at 1:22:39 PM

Cut it as being a list of bisexual characters; if we need to list characters by sexual orientation, we should do so when that is a topic of discussion, rather than an incidental or unspoken element.

Contains 20% less fat than the leading value brand!
WaterBlap Blapper of Water Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
Blapper of Water
Apr 24th 2020 at 1:27:03 PM

Informed Attribute is for when something about the character is told but never shown. And a character admitting to their sexuality constitutes both showing and telling the audience of the character's sexuality. That is, the character is "straight" until we're told he also finds men attractive, and likewise a "gay" character is such until we're told that she also finds men attractive. I think the criterion of the Informed Attribute comes from a good place but is misguided. It's "damned if you do damned if you don't" because either (a) we learn they are bisexual through their admission or action (i.e. it isn't a case of Informed Attribute) or (b) their sexuality doesn't come up (i.e. it isn't a case of bisexual).

I think this is where the "character is merely bisexual" usage comes from. We are told of their past sexual exploits, which makes the example not Informed Attribute, but any admission from the character that they're bisexual makes the example not Informed Attribute. Because sexuality is not something that needs to be shown in order for it to be realized. I mean, a gay character does not need to be in a gay relationship in order to be considered gay; all that character needs to do is admit it to him- or herself. It's the same with a bisexual character.

Adding to the problem are tropes like Ambiguously Bi, which covers characters who may or may not be bisexual and it's difficult for the audience to tell. I mean, that seems like what Bi the Way is trying to be.

Moreover, the name itself of this trope causes problems. "By the way" implies that the information about to be said is not itself all that important, hence the "not a big deal" argument, I imagine. Like, "she's bisexual by the way" as opposed to "her bisexuality is an important plot point." I suppose this could be summed up as "the problem of punny tropes." The name isn't clear.

I agree that merely existing is not generally itself a trope, but I imagine we could change this into a subtrope of The Reveal or Internal Reveal, since revealing one's sexuality is typically significant.

[EDIT TO ADD: For context, this trope has 6,153 wicks and 35,798 inbounds. Cutting it should not be the first topic of our discussion.]

[EDITx2: The first line of the description was changed from "Some characters just happen to be bisexual" to "Characters who just happen to be bisexual." This completely changes the meaning of the first sentence and makes this trope seem like it literally is just a list of bisexual characters. This one edit dates from 2015, and the original version dates from before 2010.]

Edited by WaterBlap on Apr 24th 2020 at 3:38:38 AM

Look at all that shiny stuff ain't they pretty
Apr 24th 2020 at 3:09:25 PM

[up] By Informed Attribute, I meant a situation where a character says that they are bisexual, but is only shown, at most, dating people of one gender. This is, of course, redundant with But Not Too Bi. I don't really know what you mean by making it a subtrope of The Reveal. Is it just "the moment we learn a character is bisexual"? That doesn't seem tropeworthy. The issue with the Punny Name seems to be that people assume the pun is meaningless, that it's juts a pun for pun's sake for a trope that just means "the concept of bisexuality".

A factor to keep in mind is that even if we change the official definition, a lot of people on the site has internalized the Bi the Way=concept of bisexuality" definition, and will continue to make entries using it as long as they get a blue link when they type "Bi The Way". I think cutting the trope might be easier than a redefinition/rename/cleanup, because it would allow us to just cut all uses, rather than read through all of them to see if they can still fit our new definition.

Edited by TheMountainKing on Apr 24th 2020 at 6:09:40 AM

WaterBlap Blapper of Water Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
Blapper of Water
Apr 24th 2020 at 3:55:29 PM

[up] I wasn't sure what you meant about the redundancy with But Not Too Bi but now I think I do. It is, of course, a trope to have a character claim to be bisexual only for them to only ever date a particular gender, but that is already covered by, as you said, But Not Too Bi.

Concerning The Reveal, I mean a character being assumed — by the other characters — to be heterosexual or homosexual revealing that they are bisexual.

I'm a little confused when you say this or that trope "doesn't seem tropeworthy." Do you mean it isn't worth being a trope or that it is Not a Trope? Because — using the information on Not a Trope — this phenomenon seems meaningful imo, and it doesn't appear to be very rare.

That said, I have done some more digging and judging by the original TLP draft I agree that this particular trope was meant to merely be "these characters are bisexual," which is not itself a trope. I'm not trying to argue that Bi the Way is a trope so much as finding something constructive to make it into, given how many inbounds and wicks there are.

Look at all that shiny stuff ain't they pretty
naturalironist from The Information Superhighway Relationship Status: TV Tropes ruined my love life
Apr 24th 2020 at 5:26:09 PM

[up]Not sure if I completely understand you, but I agree I think? I argued in the trope talk thread that Bi the Way should be for instances where the character is casually introduced as bisexual part way through the story(such as the page image). This is tropeworthy because it subverts the common trope Coming-Out Story. The current examples might not be salvageable though.

"It's just a show; I should really just relax"
Berrenta The STRONGEST gift-giver from Texas Relationship Status: Can't buy me love
The STRONGEST gift-giver
Apr 24th 2020 at 5:53:25 PM

I'm down with cleaning up bad examples. Obviously we could eliminate speculating examples and ZCE.

TRS needs your help!
Apr 24th 2020 at 6:23:54 PM

[up][up][up] It's good to have confirmation that "character is bisexual" was always the intended meaning.

[up][up] Why restrict it to bisexual characters? And that seems like it would overlap with Suddenly Sexuality.

[up]I don't think we can just clean-up "bad" examples, given that the original, intended definition of the trope is pretty bad.

Berrenta The STRONGEST gift-giver from Texas Relationship Status: Can't buy me love
The STRONGEST gift-giver
Apr 24th 2020 at 6:41:34 PM

[up] Yeah, the definition is another thing to work on. Hmmm...

TRS needs your help!
naturalironist from The Information Superhighway Relationship Status: TV Tropes ruined my love life
Apr 25th 2020 at 10:01:15 AM

[up][up] The difference I can see is that with Suddenly Sexuality, there's reason to believe that the character was one orientation, and the reveal does a 180 on it. Like if Bob has lots of stereotypically gay traits, and a lot of fans think he's gay, but then he suddenly loses all those traits and gets married to a woman. Or if Bob is The Casanova who has a lot of seemingly satisfying relationships with women, but then announces he's gay. No Bisexuals is in effect for both examples. Whereas if a character who has either of these buildups mentions being bisexual, or if a character whose romantic life was heretofore a blank slate mentions being bi, it's not "sudden" in the same way. Because there aren't many stereotypes associated with bisexual people (other than Depraved Bisexual), almost any character can potentially be bi. It's then a narrative choice to play this casually, or give the character a lot of Gayngst and drama about it.

Edited by naturalironist on Apr 25th 2020 at 1:04:32 PM

"It's just a show; I should really just relax"
Apr 25th 2020 at 12:23:57 PM

[up] There are examples on Suddenly Sexuality that match that description. The "heretofore a blank slate" version also has nothing unique to bisexuality. This reads to me as "there is a moment where the audience learns that a character is bi", which, given that every aspect of a character has a moment that the audience learns it, means it will inevitably just become"character is bisexual".

Edited by TheMountainKing on Apr 25th 2020 at 3:41:44 PM

WarJay77 Not-So Mad Max from The Void Relationship Status: Armed with the Power of Love
Not-So Mad Max
Apr 25th 2020 at 1:01:37 PM

See, this trope baffles me so much I convinced myself it was a Trope In Aggregate, when it's objectively not, just to try and find some way for it to be meaningful.

A work having bisexual characters doesn't inherently mean anything. A character's bisexuality not being treated as a big deal might be meaningful, but separating it from No Bisexuals (and works moving away from that trend) makes the meaning harder to find. A character coming out as Bisexual might be meaningful too, but I'm not sure what the meaning would be.

Current Project: Uncanny Valley
Apr 25th 2020 at 7:44:29 PM

We've got a few bisexual tropers that have discussed why this trope is important in the past. I can't remember their names, so I can't ping them, but hopefully they'll show up soon.

As I understand it (despite not being bi myself) there are a lot of stereotypes and assumptions about bisexual people, different from other LGBT+ groups. Sometimes it's that they're all dangerous predators, sometimes it's that they don't exist at all. But the point is that these stereotypes are pervasive enough that the lack of them ends up being its own trope. Not a trope in aggregate; this is an individual character trope, because sometimes one character can be "that guy who likes both men and women" while another can be "that freak who assaults both men and women," even in the same work.

Now, there is still misuse. Just the other day, I saw someone remove Bi the Way from Himiko Toga on My Hero Academia, because she's a Depraved Bisexual and you can't be both. And obviously we don't want this to be just a list of bi characters in fiction (even if that was genuinely the original YKTTW draft). If it's a work where everyone is Bi the Way, then that's Everyone Is Bi. If it's a work where just a lot of people (but not everyone is bi), maybe it's Cast Full of Gay.

Edited by Discar on Apr 25th 2020 at 7:45:09 AM

WarJay77 Not-So Mad Max from The Void Relationship Status: Armed with the Power of Love
Not-So Mad Max
Apr 25th 2020 at 7:55:19 PM

That's the problem though. The trope's actual meaning doesn't hold any real narrative meaning. The meaning is more meta, that is, it's the creator trying to subvert common stereotypes about bisexuals by making a bisexual character but having their sexuality, while expressed, not really a big deal; it's treated as it should ideally be treated in the real world.

But what does that actually mean for the work, besides that it lacks specific other tropes, and sometimes might not actually lack them (as you pointed out, you can have this trope affect one character and the negative stereotype tropes affect another)? That's why we're all struggling to find good examples, determine what the trope's proper usage is, etc; because the meaning it has doesn't actually affect the narrative in any significant way.

The entire point of it is that it doesn't, right? And while that's super important when talking about representation, it's also not necessarily a tropeworthy concept.

Current Project: Uncanny Valley
Synchronicity Relationship Status: -not set
Apr 25th 2020 at 8:06:20 PM

I think this is trying to be similar to Straight Gay, which began as a subversion of many homosexual stereotypes, and I wonder if modern examples of that have a similar "defined as the lack of traits" problem. Would a trope along the lines of "You're X? But you don't look it!" (ie. an acknowledgement that they don't fit stereotypes) would be healthier?

Edited by Synchronicity on Apr 25th 2020 at 10:11:00 AM

Apr 25th 2020 at 9:11:51 PM

[up][up][up]there are a lot of negative stereotypes about black people, several of which we document on this wiki: Scary Black Man, Angry Black Man, etc. That does not mean it would be appropriate to make a trope called "Normal Black Man", which list every black male character who isn't a racist stereotype, because that is not a trope.

It's also important to look at how the trope is actually used. As the wick check demonstrates, the vast majority of uses entries focus entirely on the fact that the character is bisexual, and say nothing about how the narrative treats them or whether or not they fit stereotypes. And a lot potholes of Bi the Way make no reference to a character at all, simply treating the trope as synonymous with bisexuality as a concept. Straight Gay has problems, but I've never seen that happen with it. Most tropers have learned that as the definition, and even if the trope is redefined and cleaned up, more misuse will just keep happening.

[up]That's not bad idea, but it would need to be complete separate from this trope.

Edited by TheMountainKing on Apr 25th 2020 at 12:22:55 PM

GeneralGigan817 Relationship Status: Non-Canon
Apr 26th 2020 at 9:21:56 PM

[up] Both of those names make it sound like it's an inherently bad thing if a character doesn't have a "reason" for being bisexual. It smacks of the attitude that every character should be straight, white, etc. unless there is a discrete narrative purpose behind them being something else, which is not an attitude this wiki should endorse. It's not bad for a character's bisexuality to not be treated as a big deal by the story, in fact I would say that it's probably good (not to diminish other approaches), it's just not a trope.

Edited by TheMountainKing on Apr 27th 2020 at 3:26:42 PM

GeneralGigan817 Relationship Status: Non-Canon
Apr 27th 2020 at 9:23:48 AM

If we cannot change the name, either strictly regulate examples or just cut the trope, it’s decayed beyond the point of no return.

WaterBlap Blapper of Water Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
Blapper of Water
Apr 27th 2020 at 10:28:18 AM

I think an issue with this trope is the "treated casually" aspect. Generally, when we say that a trope has meaning, we intend to say that a trope has impact, it stands out from other patterns in the work, it isn't there "just because." But when a phenomenon is present in a work and part of that phenomenon is that it is "treated casually," it comes across as having no impact, that it doesn't stand out from other tropes, that it is there "just because." However, I feel that Bi the Way is not impact-less; it isn't there "just because."

I think the big question we're trying to answer is: what does having a bisexual character in a work necessarily mean for a given work? This is not a Trope in Aggregate, because there is some element missing from Bi the Way. However, I wonder if this is a form of Garnishing the Story?

To quote GTS:

An element is included in a work, just because the element makes the story better in some way simply for having it, [...]

These elements don't drive the plot or have a narrative purpose, and aren't genre staples. They can add to characterization or World Building, but mostly the point of them is that having these elements is so much better than not having these elements.

Might Bi the Way be equivalent to, say, Everythings Better With Bisexuals? (Yes, it's a terrible snowclone, but I'm trying to use the snowclone to better compare this trope with other GTS subtropes.)

To circle back to my above statement that Bi the Way is not there "just because," Bi the Way is present in the story because non-depraved bisexual representation makes the story a little bit better.

[up] It's original meaning was "this character is bisexual" and so there has been no Trope Decay, given the wick check above where most wicks are "this character is bisexual."

Look at all that shiny stuff ain't they pretty
Synchronicity Relationship Status: -not set
Apr 27th 2020 at 10:49:02 AM

Gotta say, I too am leaning towards cutting.

I am reminded of the draft for Intersex Tribulations, where it was brought up that pages like Transsexual and Asexuality could also be read as chairs, but perhaps their tropeworthiness was in the very notability of featuring a trans or ace character at the time to begin with. Here's another relevant Trope Talk thread.

A representation-angled trope of Garnishing the Story might work, but then it doesn't seem like it should be limited to bisexuals.

Edited by Synchronicity on Apr 27th 2020 at 12:51:11 PM

WaterBlap Blapper of Water Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
Blapper of Water
Apr 27th 2020 at 11:01:02 AM

Not to make this thread about all these other tropes, but I wonder if Transsexual and Asexuality are also subtropes of Garnishing the Story, at least looking at descriptions like "in the very notability of featuring a trans or ace character."

Look at all that shiny stuff ain't they pretty
Synchronicity Relationship Status: -not set
Apr 27th 2020 at 11:08:56 AM

I think they are in the same boat as Bi the Way, in any case; what decision we make for this trope can and probably should apply to those.

Apr 27th 2020 at 12:15:43 PM

Just for clarity's sake, the trope is called Transgender now. But yes, if we cut Bi the Way, it would make sense to cut those as well. Those actually seem even harder to defend, because they have no pretense of having any meaning beyond "character is x".

[up][up][up][up] I agree with the post below that if we are going by the logic that "representation makes the work better", it makes no sense to restrict it to bisexual characters. And then that opens us up to listing every gay character or every black character, and the concept quickly becomes absurd.

Edited by TheMountainKing on Apr 27th 2020 at 3:22:51 PM

PageAction: BiTheWay
4th May '20 1:22:21 PM

Crown Description:

Bi The Way has been used to refer to any character who is bisexual. What should be done with the page? Cutting wholesale is mutually exclusive with all the other options, but cut-and-move-examples is not mutually exclusive with cut-and-make-a-new-trope.

Please do not add new options here unless they have been discussed by the thread. If you would like to voice your opinion, use the "Add post" button above.

Total posts: 483