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Kitten says, Top 10 most annoying character tropes

Journal Entry: Tue May 29, 2012, 5:28 AM


What is it?The Deus Angst Machia is a character that has a TWAGIC past, and mentions it on almost every single story they appear in. They constantly mope around, and on some occasions they have a scar that represents their depressing past. When they don't mope they usually act aloof or serious, or even mean. BUT BECAUSE OF THEIR ANGSTY PAST YOU MUST FORGIVE THEM BECAUSE THEY ARE NOTHING BUT MISUNDERSTOOD SOULS.

What is the problem?  This trope is seen EVERYWHERE, even in a tv series (especially on anime). It's so so so cliche and overly done that even if your character has gone through endless torture and angst, the reader will probably not care. Here's why;

Angst is usually used as a desperate attempt to make the reader feel for the character. It doesn't add anything to the story, explains nothing about the character as a person it's just a manipulative device to make the reader want to give the character a hug. Angsty pasts usually appear via-flashback, and at a later point in the story when the Angsty character tells the other character (usually a love interest) 'Why they are this way'. When in fact the writer wants the character to tell the reader so the past may 'touch them' in some way and make them put comments like 'POOR INSERT NAME HERE, THEY HAVE GONE THROUGH SO MUCH NO WONDER THEY WERE SO MEAN! I FORGIVE THEM AFTER LEARNING THIS DESPITE THE FACT THEY ACTED LIKE A TOTAL ASSHOLE'

Angst stories usually involve death of a loved one (lover or parent or friend), rape, abuse (mental or/and physical), neglect and abandonment, and the list goes on. These things happen in real life every day, and if you use an angsty story as a device instead of a method to spread awareness or something to add in the story, then people might get offended. This is especially offensive if it's used as excuse after a character did something horrible like "THEY KILLED SOMEONE BUT THEY WERE ABUSED, ITS NOT THEIR FAULT". No, it is, stop it. Thousands of people are abused and most of them become good and honest people.

Another type of Angsty character is the one that does nothing but mope and give long monologues. This ticks off readers a lot since they usually like characters that are assertive and/or vital to the plot, not one that gives gloomy poetry about how they were abandoned or something. This just feels like a COMPLETE waste of time.

Also please try to avoid giving your character 'bleeding scars' or drawing them in the rain to increase the angst. This immediately gives me the impression that this character is going to fit this trope and I (among many others) will immediately lose interest.

How to fix it? Okay so, let's take a look at a good 'angsty' character; The Goddamn Batman.



Batman's parents were killed right before his eyes by a robber, which inspired him later in life to dress like a giant rodent and fight crime. His angst is there for a PURPOSE, he fights crime because as a child he felt felt completely helpless in saving his parents. He became a superhero as a way to cope and as a way to contribute to society. Batman is very quiet, stoic and brooding and we are shown his past in some occasions throughout his story. All of these times however, they contribute to the plot of Batman's state of mind at the moment and it's not solely used as a device for us to feel sorry for him.

Also despite his quiet nature, Batman is a caring individual even if he has a special way showing it. While he's extremely badass he has some moments of vulnerability here and there that make him more human. Another thing I love about this character is that he doesn't mope and whine about his past but keeps it inside so we SEE how he's suffering instead of reading an extensive monologue. Mourning requires silence, and it also makes the angst more meaningful and reader. Have you ever met someone who had something horrible happen to them and constantly mention it?

Usually these horrible things that happen in our lives might make us go into a zombie state for a while, understandably so. However when someone is strong and tries to fix their inner demons makes a very interesting read, much more interesting than a whiny douchebag that weeps a single crystal tear shouting "WHY!?!??!?!" into the sky.

What are your experiences regarding this trope?

EDIT!:
Hey guys! I kinda forgot to add something in the 'Angsty trope' that I think it's worth looking into.

There are a lot of people that are more sensitive than others and that are mopey about every single thing.This doesn't make them bad characters only if it's the writer's intention to make them a mopey and angsty character. Also the characters must react to this like normal people and not give the character any excuses, also they must have a good backstory to back up their behavior. I have two examples to this trope; Harry Potter (Book 5 and on) and Shinji Ikari.

(SPOILERS) Harry witnesses the death of Cedric Diggory and is tortured by Voldemort on book 4. From Book 5 on he becomes extremely bitter, angry and angsty but in a realistic way. The people around him tell him off or get angry whenever he starts snapping, like any normal people does. His rash attitude brings no good consecuences and this even leads to the death of his godfather, Sirius. Harry at this point is an angry teenager completely conflicted with turmoil inside, and we get why. While he isn't likable at the slightest I think it was Jk's intention to make it this way.

Another example (a tad more obscure) is Shinji Ikari from one of my favorite shows; Neon Genesis Evangelion. Now a lot of people HAAATE Shinji and it's their right to do so, BUT let's be honest here, it's realistic for a fourteen year old spineless loner to act this way. He's a bundle of daddy issues, he's extremely introverted and timid and then all of a sudden the world's fate is in his hands ONE DAY TO ANOTHER. Perhaps people are used to the assertive character that never gives up and all that, but let's be realistic here if you ask a fourteen year old to pilot a GIANT ROBOT who he has never seen in his life and that this robot can feel everything you can feel even when it's arm gets ripped off, you'll be pretty angsty too.

Now what makes Shinji a good character (not a likable one though) is that the other chatracters call him out in his whining. Yes sometimes people are sympathetic to him, but most of the time it's a 'GROW THE FUCK UP' speech.

TL;DR: It all boils down to the writer's intention when it comes to this trope (and many tropes that will be mentioned on this list)

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:iconhalloweenfriday:
halloweenfriday Featured By Owner Oct 29, 2012
I like how you mentioned Batman and Shinji Ikari. However, when I read the part that said Shinji is a good character, but not a likeable one, i might have to disagree. Don't get me wrong, I LOOOOOOVE Shinji, i just don't agree with you finding him unlikeable. To me, he's just a fragile child, and his happiness will never shine into his heart. I'm not going to expect Naruto or Goku here. Shinji is the type of character we should feel sorry for. I don't understand the hate. I mean come on, he suffers depression and PTSD, and he's not even an adult yet. If you Think of likeable as a character who's happy all the time like Spongebob, then i understand what you mean. But to me, Shinji is a likeable character, you just have to know the pain he's been through.
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:iconcaramelfrog:
CaramelFrog Featured By Owner Oct 29, 2012  Student Digital Artist
Like I said, he is a good character but not many people find him likable because he represents human weakness. Its a harsh reality that people usually don't like to face which is the reason he's a very disliked character. I'm one of the people who like his character because hes so flawed and relatable, and hes got raging hormones like a real teenager. But would I hang out with him in real life? Probably not, he's not my kind of person.

In conclusion, I think Shinji is a great character and very misunderstood in that aspect. That doesn't mean I have to like him :P
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:iconhalloweenfriday:
halloweenfriday Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2012
oh no i'm not telling you to like him, i'm just saying that he's misunderstood by a lot of people. The strange thing though, people of the east seem to like like him. Yes, he is a good character, but i'm not forcing anyone to like him. To me, I would hang out with Shinji, because he's been alone since his mother got killed and his bastard of a father abandoned, which i feel bad for him. I totally agree with you, he is very relatable, yet misunderstood. Like the movie Prometheus, it's a great movie to me, yet misunderstood by others. But that's an opinion. If I forced people to like something they don't like, I would be a hypocrite, which i'm not. Don't get me wrong, i understand completely what you said. :)
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:iconhappyametuer:
happyametuer Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2012
Okay, after reading a lot of these, I'm gonna have to say it: you're misusing your semicolons.

In some places, you're using a semicolon where you should use a colon. It's not just in these Kitten Says but also in many after-the-piece notes. Here's a link to a short-and-sweet explanation on both colons and semicolons.

Other than that, I really agree with the Kitten Says: Top 10 Most Annoying Character Tropes.
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:iconcaramelfrog:
CaramelFrog Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2012  Student Digital Artist
Thank you :) I'm bilingual so grammar isn't my forte so I really appreciate the help! :D
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:iconhappyametuer:
happyametuer Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2012
Hope the link helped. :)
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:iconcaramelfrog:
CaramelFrog Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2012  Student Digital Artist
It did! I'll be more cautious next time :3
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:iconhappyametuer:
happyametuer Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2012
Oh god--- >.<

Stupid HTML linking system . . . At least it works.
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:iconshadowkyogre:
ShadowKyogre Featured By Owner May 30, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Also please try to avoid giving your character 'bleeding scars' or drawing them in the rain to increase the angst.
On a completely unserious note, wouldn't characters with always open wounds get infected through these?
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:iconcaramelfrog:
CaramelFrog Featured By Owner May 30, 2012  Student Digital Artist
Hhahaha yes xD
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:icontokiball12345:
Tokiball12345 Featured By Owner May 29, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh interestingggg
I've seen this a lot.
I think.
Well hopefully I won't make a character like this. :I
Being serious and angsty is sometimes so boring. lD
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:iconjwmidnight:
JWMidnight Featured By Owner May 29, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
I was eagerly awaiting this one. Its the go-to trope for a lot of younger writers and it does get extremely old and predictable. I know I made at least one Sonic fancharacter like this, maybe more haha! I'd like to say this one is the most annoying on the list because I have seen it WAY too many times, but I haven't seen the rest of the list yet :3
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:iconlocust-spawning:
locust-spawning Featured By Owner May 29, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh, have you ever seen *StapledSlut's A Woof Comic? It makes fun of almost all of these tropes and it's pretty damn funny.
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:iconcaramelfrog:
CaramelFrog Featured By Owner May 29, 2012  Student Digital Artist
Haha no I haven't I should check it out! :)
Reply
:iconlocust-spawning:
locust-spawning Featured By Owner May 29, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I'M BATMAN

yes, this is a really good one as well. I used to write these types of super angsty chars aaaaaaaaaall the time when I was younger, so now I am very careful about characters' backstories and if I want angsty-type things to happen to them, I'd much rather show it rather than have it implied as a part of their past.

I'm actually working on a sort of spin-off comic right now for my character Cecile to show her continuing struggles with mental illness that wouldn't really work in the PMDE world. However, by doing this, I feel like it makes her a deeper character and helps to create catharsis for me.

But yeah, I also feel like people who write these types of lulzy angst machines have never actually experienced a very tragic or painfully life-changing event in their life so they therefore don't understand how to write it. I often use my own experiences as an example now, and it has really helped.
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:iconspringdragonfly:
SpringDragonfly Featured By Owner May 29, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I'm so sick of this trope that I'm instantly apathetic to any character who resembles it. Especially if the character is a pretty boy, that seems to be the demographic that has it the most. Why do these characters seem to be physically incapable of joy or shutting up?

I'm not bothered by Harry's "emo phase" in Order of the Phoenix because he is angsting about his parents because he is stressed about being locked out of the loop (and probably has PTSD over Cedric's death). That was angst done right, especially since his friends called him out on it.

In my current PMD cast most of the main ones I use have some degree of angst in their backstories, however, it rarely comes up in conversation, and when it will come up, it's not a get out of being a dirtbag free card, it's an explanation for their personality, it adds depth, and that's it.
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:iconcaramelfrog:
CaramelFrog Featured By Owner May 29, 2012  Student Digital Artist
^ This, this, this.
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:iconlyndsey96:
lyndsey96 Featured By Owner May 29, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
MAN I used to use this trope! Because, you know, angsty characters were all the rage in middle school. Glad to say I don't do that anymore. Tragic pasts for characters; maybe. Extensive monolouges of angst; NOPE! At least, not after reading this ho ho~
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:iconsparradile:
Sparradile Featured By Owner May 29, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I think this is the trope I find most annoying. It seems like since it turns up so often in shows and literature, people think that it's not only okay, but AWESOME and they'll be great writers if they apply this sort of thing to their character. All the tropes you mentioned so far, it seems like people are more likely to listen if you bring up that you don't like what they're doing, but this one, since it's in their history, IT CAN'T BE CHANGED and man, it's annoying.

When they've killed people it's even more irritating, and that especially people seem to like to brag about? But that's another good point about Batman, I think. Even though he saw his parents murdered and has so much trouble with that, he doesn't kill anyone (or at least as far as I know- I've only seen the movies :P). That makes him a lot more respectable, because even with this grudge he's held on to for so long, he can find a different way to solve it than the generic revenge murder (which, even though it happens even more than this trope, seems the least believable... I think the only actual murderers I've heard about had a lot more going on in their heads than just a grudge).

Tragedy is okay, I think most people have experienced at least some level of it in their lives, but like you pointed out, I don't hear real people just whining about it constantly. It would be wonderful if the characters stopped too. e__e

/rambling Sparrow out
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:iconcaramelfrog:
CaramelFrog Featured By Owner May 29, 2012  Student Digital Artist
Batman's code is not to kill so he has never murdered anyone (intentionally). I think he has the code so he would not let his grudge take over him and to keep it under control.

Tragedy is alright, just as long as the writer handles it in an adult manner and not a cheap device so the character can get asspats.

And yes, this trope is really difficult to change but from this point on the tropes get worse and worse and that's expected :)
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:iconlack-rat:
Lack-Rat Featured By Owner May 29, 2012
I'M THE GODDAMED BATMAN :iconbatmanplz:
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:iconcriticalquit:
CriticalQuit Featured By Owner May 29, 2012
Thankfully while there is some level of tragedy in some of my characters' pasts, they seldom if ever come up, and they're not all whiny about it XD
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