Episode 654 - tropes vs character growth

Sep 25, 2023

Today we're chatting about characters who're mainly based on tropes VS those that grow. You see this difference quite clearly in a lot of British comedy VS American comedy where characters are set up in certain ways, e.g. the nerd, the sassy one, the mature one etc- in British stuff they tend to revert to type, which is their most important trait, while in American stuff they tend to change and grow based on interactions and experiences. There are MANY exceptions though and one way isn't inherently better than the other.

Topics and Show Notes

There seems to be a few reasons for that: a huge established history of it in Britain and the BBC being a massively influential engine of creation that people emulate without even thinking, but mainly I think it's because most British stuff always used to have a single writer or a pair of writers working on something at a time and often changing them episode to episode, while American stuff often tends to be written by team. This means there's more continuity on American projects because when part of the team leaves they're replaced by others who join the existing team, while with British stuff you'll often have a full replacement. This means that with the single writer approach it's much easier to simply rely on tropes rather than keep track of what all the previous people who worked on it were thinking, but when you have a team people will remember from episode to episode so it's easier to build on characters and change them.

The original British Office Vs the American adaptation is a good illustration of the tendency of tropes VS change. Both sets of characters were based on certain tropes but over the course of the 2 seasons and the special episodes the characters in the original didn't really change or grow at all (Gareth is still a knob, David Brent never changes from being a sad wanker, Tim always thinks he's better than everyone despite hating himself), while as soon as the US episodes stopped directly copying the originals the characters began to grow (way before it went off into its multi season run). The British version had the same two writers, but they were following the popular British style. Both versions are great in their own very different ways and despite being trope based the British version is more serious and realistic, while the growing characters of the US version are cartoony and stylised.

There are other factors though and a lot of exceptions - show-runners can make sure things go in certain ways, The Simpsons have been going for a million years with many different writers and barely change, and things made with the same one or two writers episode to episode can still change and grow because you have creative continuity. Then you have creators who simply force characters to reset and revert to type regardless of the growth and experiences they've had,which is a terrible betrayal of the audience, but that's how bad writers roll. Related to that is the opposite version; where characters score unearned growth that just comes out of nowhere, which is another betrayal of the audience.

Do your characters grow and change or are they informed by the way they were originally setup? Which style do you prefer?

This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to Beg - Platforming pixels in the deep, dark, scream haunted depths of a magical video game dungeon where only the bravest are able to carefully creep.

Topics and shownotes


Featured comic:
Lauren Ipsum - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2023/sep/19/featured-comic-lauren-ipsum/

Featured music:
Beg - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/Beg/ - by BettyTeaHorse, rated M.

Special thanks to:
Gunwallace - http://www.virtuallycomics.com
Ozoneocean - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/ozoneocean
Kawaiidaigakusei - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/kawaiidaigakusei
Tantz Aerine - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Tantz_Aerine/

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