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Duplicate Trope: Monster Sob Story

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Adept Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
Jun 20th 2020 at 7:09:03 PM

Per discussion in the Duplicate tropes cleanup, no one seems to really understand what Monster Sob Story is supposed to be about.

The usage of the trope seems to be that an antagonist has a tragic backstory/motive/circumstances, while the laconic defines it as " A story that reveals the villain's Freudian Excuse." This seems redundant to, well, Freudian Excuse, as well as other related tropes such as Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds, Sympathy for the Devil, Motive Rant, Tortured Monster, Cry for the Devil, Alas, Poor Villain, etc.

Wick Check (Out of 326 wicks):

  1. Defector from Decadence – Sinkhole chain with Body Horror and Alas, Poor Villain
  2. Then Let Me Be Evil – A classic antagonist is given a sympathetic reason for being evil
  3. Anime.Angel Beats – ZCE
  4. Anime.Tekkaman Blade – ZCE
  5. Characters.Arrowverse Other Locales – Villain has a tragic backstory
  6. Characters.Borderlands 2 – Villain has a tragic backstory
  7. Characters.Highlander The Series – Villain has a tragic backstory
  8. Characters.Mediochre Q Seth Series – Seems to be an Obliviously Evil character rather than a sympathetic one
  9. Characters.Pokemon Reset Bloodlines Villains – Villain has a tragic backstory
  10. Characters.The Lord Of The Rings Other Characters – Characters pity him for his misery
  11. Characters.The Vampire Diaries Characters Introduced In Season 2 – Unclear
  12. Characters.Trick And Treat – Redundant to Freudian Excuse
  13. Dark Is Not Evil.Literature – Villain has a sympathetic backstory
  14. Fanfic.Avenger Goddess – Heroes sympathises an antagonist for its tragic circumstances
  15. Film.Shadow Of The Vampire – ZCE
  16. Literature.Alex Rider – Potholed to a character’s name. ZCE.
  17. Literature.Nos4a2 – Characters are sympathetic
  18. Series.Fall Of Eagles – Character has a tragic backstory
  19. VideoGame.Dungeon Fighter Online – Unclear. It seems like a Tortured Monster
  20. WesternAnimation.Spider Man Into The Spider Verse – Villain has sympathetic motives.

The definition is mostly consistent, but I feel like they're already covered by the aforementioned tropes.

Edited by Adept on Jun 29th 2020 at 7:57:06 PM

GastonRabbit The world's forgotten boy (he/him) from Robinson, Illinois, USA Relationship Status: I wanna be your dog
The world's forgotten boy (he/him)
Jun 28th 2020 at 10:27:57 PM

Bump because it doesn't look like anyone noticed this was opened.

I'm currently tired and can't think of anything at the moment, but maybe someone else can chime in for now.

I am a passenger, and I ride and I ride....
Jun 29th 2020 at 2:12:28 AM

I guess it was meant as The Reveal + Freudian Excuse...? Which is redundant because that's how Freudian Excuses are presented.

Adept Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
Jun 29th 2020 at 2:24:27 AM

Well, the thing is, I think Freudian Excuse is supposed to be specifically about bad guys whose villainous motivations stems from childhood trauma, while Monster Sob Story is a more general trope about villains with tragic circumstances. However, I'm not sure if this is a splitworthy distinction, especially since Freudian Excuse is frequently used to cover the latter trope as well.

Jun 29th 2020 at 8:59:50 AM

I half-remember a discussion on the scope of Freudian Excuse, but I don't remember where it is. I'll look for it.

WarJay77 She's a cute red monster from The Void Relationship Status: Armed with the Power of Love
She's a cute red monster
Jul 9th 2020 at 11:22:59 PM

[up] Ever find it?

Current Project: N/A
Jul 10th 2020 at 12:55:36 AM in Trope Talk

I'm wrong about Freudian Excuse. (That's what makes it an "excuse"!) The thread includes a lot of motive tropes.

Adept Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
Jul 10th 2020 at 2:46:38 AM

[up]Huh. It might seem that Freudian Excuse actually needs more help, since that trope is misused all over the place.

Still, I do question the actual definition of this trope, since I can't pinpoint a tropeworthy distinction from the other tropes I mentioned in the OP. The examples don't all overlap, but from the ones that do, the write-ups don't really demonstrate any difference between the two tropes.


  • Hansel and Gretel from Black Lagoon. They gleefully torture and murder through their story arc. They are also children who in the past were raped and forced to kill other children. They are eventually hunted down and killed. (Monster Sob Story)
    • In Black Lagoon, the Creepy Twins/Psychos For Hire Hansel and Gretel have a definite Freudian excuse for being so deeply, deeply broken, creepy, disturbing, sociopathic and just plain wrong in the head. Born in Romania and abandoned by parents too poor to raise them, they were raised in an orphanage no better than those of 19th century London (a sadly common story during Nicolae Ceausescu's rule). Then they were sold to a producer of kiddy snuff porn, where rape, torture and murder were part of their daily routine - to the point where they can no longer grasp the concept of surviving without killing. Unlike many cases of the Freudian excuse, this one actually works, making the twins both the most twisted characters in the show, and the most tragic. (Freudian Excuse)

  • This applies to 4 of the original Seven Warlords of the Sea in One Piece. Boa Hancock's experience as being a slave and abused by male Celestial Dragons gave her a permanent distrust and disgust for men, saved later for Luffy. It also cause her to put on the act of a cruel and merciless tyrant in order to hide all her fears and weaknesses to others. (Monster Sob Story)
    • In One Piece, Boa Hancock's Freudian Excuse for acting like an absolute bitch, was her terrible past, in which she was kidnapped and sold into slavery, receiving unspeakable abuse by her masters, gradually eroding her will to live. Until four years later, a Fishman climbed the Red Line with his bare hands, and freed every single slave - even the human ones (which included Hancock and her younger sisters), despite his hatred of humans - before setting fire to the entire city. Even after freedom, her outlook on life was jaded by her terrible experiences, so she made a supreme facade, complete with Kick the Dog (and the kitten, and the baby seal) moments after she became Empress. (Freudian Excuse)

  • Jojos Bizarre Adventure: Dio was shown to have had a tragic childhood, growing up in the slums with his father being an abusive alcoholic that beat his mother to death. This however does little to excuse his later actions of killing Jonathan's dog, harassing his girlfriend, attempting to poison Jonathan's father for his inheritance and later, rejecting his humanity to become a vampire and enslave all mankind... though in a rare moment of humanization, he's shown to genuinely mourn Jonathan's death, as he was the one person whom Dio respected and considered a Worthy Opponent. (Monster Sob Story)
    • Played with in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Dio Brando was raised in poverty by an alcoholic father who treated him like dirt and worked his mother to death. He left for the Joestar manor to take their money as his father requested on his deathbed. Dio, however, did so for himself, not because his father (whom he despised) asked him to. Even Speedwagon didn't buy into his Freudian Excuse; he was raised in similar circumstances to Dio, and he could tell Dio was a bad apple just by his smell. (Freudian Excuse)

  • Magneto was given his definitive sob story by Chris Claremont in Uncanny X-Men #150, which revealed that the previously Card-Carrying Villain in fact had the mother of all Freudian Excuses: He was a survivor of The Holocaust, and rather than being motivated by pride or greed (as he had been in all stories before), what was truly driving him was a desire to make sure what happened to his people would never happen to mutants. This retcon became insanely popular, to the point where even Stan Lee himself said in a 2008 interview that he "never saw Magneto as a bad guy", despite Magneto being portrayed as exactly that (and nothing more) until Claremont got ahold of him. (Monster Sob Story)

Edited by Adept on Aug 10th 2020 at 6:11:49 PM

Jul 10th 2020 at 7:24:45 AM

If these are worthy of being two concepts, then perhaps a way to distinguish them would be when we learn the backstory? Perhaps Freudian Excuse could be shifted to "excuse used later as The Reveal" and Monster Sob Story could be cases where the backstory is known from the beginning and we're taken on the ride as we watch the descent, where the sob story element is established at the start.

Edited by 8BrickMario on Jul 10th 2020 at 7:25:34 AM

Adept Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
Jul 10th 2020 at 7:50:50 AM

The second idea of depicting someone's descent into villainy due to a triggering event is covered by Driven to Villainy or Start of Darkness, I think.

Edited by Adept on Aug 10th 2020 at 1:10:04 AM

SeptimusHeap MOD Christmas worms from Switzerland Relationship Status: Mu
Christmas worms
Aug 10th 2020 at 1:47:04 AM

Clock is ticking.

"For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled." - Richard Feynman
Adept Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
Aug 10th 2020 at 3:09:03 AM

Well, no one had offered any new definition that could distinguish it from the existing tropes, so here's some possible options to deal with the duplicate issue:

Edited by Adept on Aug 13th 2020 at 3:41:37 AM

FernandoLemon Power Bomberman tester from Argentina Relationship Status: In season
Aug 10th 2020 at 6:36:22 AM

I think I would rather it be an index rather than a disambig.

At the end of everything, hold onto anything.
Serac she/her Relationship Status: Oh my word! I'm gay!
Aug 10th 2020 at 10:30:21 AM

Would we really have enough pages to make it an index?

Spark9 Gentleman Troper! from Castle Wulfenbach Relationship Status: Pining for the fjords
Gentleman Troper!
Aug 10th 2020 at 2:45:43 PM

[up][up][up] I'd say cut and merge.

Rhetorical, eh? ... Eight!
naturalironist from The Information Superhighway Relationship Status: TV Tropes ruined my love life
Adept Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
Aug 10th 2020 at 9:05:19 PM

[up][up][up] That's why I suggested disambig first as I don't know how many tropes are required to make an index. I counted about 6 related tropes so far.

Edited by Adept on Aug 13th 2020 at 3:40:23 AM

Serac she/her Relationship Status: Oh my word! I'm gay!
Aug 10th 2020 at 9:18:02 PM

If we only have 6 related tropes, I think a disambiguation is better than an index.

Aug 10th 2020 at 9:58:19 PM

What about a Super-Trope? Could we possibly convert Monster Sob Story into one?

Adept Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
Aug 11th 2020 at 1:14:57 AM

[up]I dunno... The other tropes' definitions are pretty broad already. Making this into a Super-Trope would seem redundant.

Serac she/her Relationship Status: Oh my word! I'm gay!
Aug 11th 2020 at 7:31:41 AM

Should we get a crowner going using the options in 12?

Adept Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
Aug 11th 2020 at 4:35:49 PM

When I say making it a Super-Trope, what I mean is redefining it to mean an evil or otherwise antagonistic character having a difficult past in order to induce sympathy or at least pity in the audience without saying it's why they are the way they are. I'm willing to hear out other takes on the "make it a Super-Trope" idea, though, this is just an idea I have.

Edited by ImperialMajestyXO on Aug 11th 2020 at 4:37:05 AM

Adept Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
Aug 11th 2020 at 7:02:55 PM

[up]So you mean that the villain has a Dark and Troubled Past, but that troubled past isn't the cause of his villainy?

Aug 11th 2020 at 7:08:19 PM

[up] That's the gist of it, yeah.

PageAction: MonsterSobStory
11th Aug '20 8:59:09 AM

Crown Description:

The trope is defined as The Same But More Specific to Freudian Excuse, and is redundant to a number of other, existing tropes.

Total posts: 32