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TV Tropes Monday: Awakening the Sleeping Giant


Tweet of the Day: Russia’s Open Book 


There is a war going on. It might be a deadlock or one side is steamrolling the other. But there is a third party that remains neutral. They might send humanitarian aide. They might admonish the warring factions to resolve their differences through diplomacy.

Then something happens.

A bomb or shell lands on the wrong side of the border.

A extremist group attacks a civilian target in the neutral’s party territory.

A representative of the neutral party discovers plans to attack their nation or uncovers massive atrocities by one side on the other.

That simply will not do.

And then the neutral party becomes a wrecking ball and changes the direction of the conflict.

Witness the Awakening of the Sleeping Giant.

The phrase comes from the movie Tora! Tora! Tora! about the Japanese attack on the U.S. Naval Station at Pearl Harbor and it is attributed to Admiral Yamamoto, the man behind the attack. But what made the U.S. such a giant in a world full of world spanning Empires? In an odd way, it was that the U.S., for the most part, had not spent the last 500 years or so (in the case of England and France close to a 1,000) battling other Empires, in wars that became ever larger, and ever more expensive. Americans prior to WW2 distrusted large standing armies and when they raised them, only did so for the duration of the war and then disbanded them (the Navy broke that rule in the late 19th Century). Meanwhile the British and French had both large standing armies and comparable floating navies. Forces that consumed a lot of money and industrial capacity to maintain. Add to this the crippling loses and war debt. And guess who bankrolled the Allies during WW1? That meant that significant portion of tax revenue from British and French coffers went into American banks. Add to it being protected by two oceans and the U.S. had all the reserve capacity to arm everyone on the Allied side and put over 10,000,000 troops in uniform.

That is best example of this trope and one a writer should be aware of. It takes more than just being “big” (for any given value of the word) to make this trope happen. The individual, party or nation that plays this role has to have the capacity to affect the outcome in a profound way if not carry the day.  And there is also the what happens to the giant after it awakens.


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