We all have our favorite and least favorite tropes. From love triangles to slow burns, tropes are often the best ways to showcase great characters and storylines. They can also be frustrating and make you question why it is even a trope at all. In this bi-weekly column, we’ll take a deep dive into some of the most classic television tropes.
Whenever I watch a show in which a character has inhuman abilities, I always find myself wishing I could have what they have.
I can’t speak for everyone, but who wouldn’t want super strength, the chance to live forever, to fly, etc.? Sure, there can be downsides to some of these powers, but I believe that the positives outweigh the negatives in most cases.
The irony is most of the characters I see with these extraordinary abilities often wish that they were just like the rest of us normal human beings. Who needs the ability to run super fast when you can just walk normally and feel winded after? Why help save the world with a supercomputer in your head when you can just work at a Buy More?
There are so many shows that exhibit this trope in which characters don’t want their superpower, supernatural ability, or whatever. The Vampire Diaries literally spent an entire season focused on finding a cure to vampirism because almost every character wanted to be a normal human versus a vampire.
I think the main reason this trope is so widely used is that it has the potential to set up a great hero’s journey.
When Scott McCall is first bitten in Teen Wolf, he’s not a huge fan of being a werewolf and isn’t afraid to show it. Because this transformation was forced on him, he was never able to really process what it means to be a werewolf. It’s no wonder that Scott just wanted to be a normal teen especially after learning that his new girlfriend’s dad is a werewolf hunter.
Despite spending the entire first season trying to cure himself, Scott doesn’t succeed. Instead, he’s stuck with the fact that he’s going to be a werewolf forever. Rather than sulking around and complaining about his future, Scott embraces his true nature, eventually becoming an alpha. Scott’s journey from a dorky teen to a heroic leader is something that I will always admire.
Scott could have easily become an annoying jock who hated the life he was given. However, Teen Wolf saw an opportunity to turn Scott into one epic true alpha.
A show that I don’t think did as great of a job handling this trope is Chuck. I love Chuck Bartowski, but I have it on good authority that some find him annoying (and by some I mean my boyfriend). If I had to pick an annoying thing about Chuck, it is his constant whining throughout the first two seasons about him wanting a normal life.
I completely understand that he doesn’t want to put his family in danger and that he hates lying to them. It’s totally within Chuck’s right to want to get the intersect out of his head. But spending two whole seasons with this same general storyline got to be a bit tiresome. It doesn’t reflect badly on the show, but it makes Chuck come off as a bit annoying.
On top of that, he is literally given the choice between being normal and redownloading the intersect in his head and he chooses the latter. It’s a great character moment don’t get me wrong, but it kind of makes me think: why was Chuck complaining all this time?
Since becoming the intersect, Chuck has traveled the world, saved lives, met a beautiful woman, and more. It must’ve just taken him two years to realize all the benefits of being the intersect. If only he thought about it sooner.
I never really felt bad for Chuck so I never really cared about him wanting to be a normal person. There are other characters, however, that I wholeheartedly sympathized with.
Buffy Summers, for example, had plenty of valid reasons for not wanting to be the vampire slayer. She had been kicked out of her previous school, lost all her friends, and her mom used to look at her with such disappointment for things she had no control over.
Going through all those things can be hard just by itself, but having to deal with it while also fighting for your life on a daily basis is unimaginable. She is then dealt with a card no teenager should ever be given — death. When she was told that her death was prophesied, you could see the terror in her eyes. You could imagine all the questions running around in her mind. Why am I the slayer destined to die? Why can’t I just be normal?
Similar to Buffy, when Daisy is first given her powers in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., you can’t help but feel for her. Even though we knew this was her journey to becoming the incredible Quake, it’s hard not to feel her pain. It didn’t help that not only was she terrified, but all her friends were scared too. Daisy wanting to fake her test results to hide the fact that she is inhuman was probably the most human thing she could do.
When everyone around you wishes you were normal, you’ll start to wish it yourself.
Buffy and Daisy end up becoming more powerful than they could have ever imagined. Buffy is able to take out villain after villain, and Daisy is able to accept her powers and use them for good.
It’s these types of journeys that I live for. Daisy and Buffy are two of my all-time favorite characters, and I think it has a lot to do with how they handled their fear of being different. It’s not an easy thing to accomplish, but at least I can look at them and know that it’s possible.