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TV Tropes Monday: Hero with Bad Publicity

Tweet of the Day: Books vs. Film in Science Fiction Romance


This is a hero trope. After all now that  we dropped all that silly prissiness of chocolate hearts and late holiday signing cards, we can proceed to a proper tropes post.


Hero(es) with Bad Publicity. Dirty deeds may be done dirt cheap and stink just as badly, but there is no guarantee that a good deed will get you in the front page of the morning paper/news site, at least not under a pleasant light/wording.

After all, good deeds rarely go unpunished. And Bad publicity is one of the many punishments heaped on do-gooders. If you want examples of the reasons how this happens, feel free to click on the links above, but I shall concentrate on two important factors highlighted by this trope:

  1. Every action, however benign, has (unintended) consequences.
  2. There is no guarantee that everybody will love the hero or stay enamored of him or her.

When writing you not only have to consider the heroes motivations but also the consequences of his actions. Blasting the bad guy with a rocket launcher  a top the Sears Tower might be satisfying, but I don’t think the owners (or for that matter the police) will thank you for the collateral damage or the possession of an illegal weapon. The modern hero often has to risk said consequences in order to do what is right/necessary. Acknowledging them heightens the drama while ignoring them tends to shred the audience suspension of disbelief.

As for public approval, the truth is, a hero (or his friends) have to work very hard at a) getting the publicity and b) spinning said publicity in a favorable way. Otherwise others will be doing the spinning for you. The villain was probably not the only one who benefited from his schemes, otherwise he would have no henchmen, allies or followers. They might have survived and would certainly suffered some kind of loss be it physical or financial as a result of the heroes actions. Trashing the heroes public image might be a way to hit back.



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