It’s not exactly a secret that we at the Fandomentals love to analyze, well, everything. From time to time we create our own shorthand to help quickly encapsulate certain tropes, ideas, concepts, and more. Carol and Cheryl and Larry became part of our lexicon as a way to quickly refer to the radically different Game of Thrones counterparts for George RR Martin’s characters in A Song of Ice and Fire.
We also love to throw around Watsonian and Doylist as ways to quickly establish a viewpoint for how we’re approaching our analysis, critiquing a show, or discussing a character. As far as tropes go, we’ve coined the term Dutiful Princess to helpfully shorthand all the traits a certain character archetype displays. We’ve written several pieces detailing our favorite Dutiful Princesses (originally inspired by House Martell) including Sue Gilbert of Dickinson, Princess Leia of Star Wars, and naturally, Princess Arianne from ASOIAF.
It is with this rich tradition in mind that we’re rolling out two new character archetype tropes for the Fandomentals: the Glorious Dumbass, and the Disaster Chosen One.
This character is, well, they’re a dumbass. If there’s a way to make the most chaotic decision possible, they will find a way to do so. But the chaos they cause usually results in the most delightful antics for the viewer to guffaw at or is at least, not totally detrimental to their journeys in the plot.
The Glorious Dumbass is a walking chaos beast, but they most usually also possess a heart of gold… typically buried under a few layers of bad jokes or sarcasm. This character cares deeply for their friends and loved ones, even if they sometimes have an odd way of expressing it. Emotionally, the Glorious Dumbass can veer wildly from state to state, but it is not uncommon to find them gleefully embracing at least some aspect of their lives, even if it is in the midst of chaos they just caused.
They also frequently have some overlap the already established lucky rogue archetype or in some cases the cloud cuckoolander archetype, and can usually find a way to turn their circumstances around once they put their minds to the task.
And ultimately this is what keeps the Glorious Dumbass from being a pain in the ass and a chore to watch. Their dumbassery is more awe-inspiring than harmful, more delightful than horrific, and more amusing than agonizing… and they can often be recognized as the anthropomorphic embodiment of a golden retriever.
Examples of this archetype are Wynonna Earp from Wynonna Earp, Ava Silva from Warrior Nun, Drax the Destroyer from the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, and Thor from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Disaster Chosen One
But wait, you say! Wynonna and Ava are also Chosen One characters, and you could make a strong case that they’re disasters at it! You’re right! So what’s the difference?
Character archetypes/tropes can often overlap. For example, one could argue that Kara Danvers aka Supergirl displays elements of both a Dutiful Princess and a Glorious Dumbass (Golly!), but leans more toward Dutiful Princess. Think of them as pie charts.
That said, the Disaster Chosen One is its own archetype for the following reasons.
They’re a disaster.
This could for a number of reasons.
This Chosen One could have been originally a protagonist that had a fall from grace, buckling under the pressure of their destiny and instead becomes the villain (Anakin Skywalker from Star Wars). Or they could be a protagonist that exists as a subversion of the naturally gifted Chosen One type that takes to their destiny like a duck to water, and instead fails at every turn.
Sometimes they’re a Chosen One protagonist that simply just fails in the end. Whether by peer pressure, manipulation, their own decisions, or lack of ability, they just can’t get the job done, or do the absolute worst thing possible for that situation… in a way that completely ruins their journey and the plot. (Hello, paging Jon Snow on aisle one!) Sometimes this isn’t even a bad thing! You could have a Disaster Chosen One who starts off as the antagonist, casts off their “Destiny” and chooses to do good instead (Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender, Lena Luthor from Supergirl).
Now, this archetype doesn’t always end in tragedy. When coupled as the secondary trait of the Glorious Dumbass, we often see characters who would be overlooked or underappreciated initially fail at their tasks, but then learn and grow into their roles, gaining grudging respect from their peers along the way. Since the Glorious Dumbass archetype is their primary trait, their failures are sometimes humorous, often emotional, and leave us rooting for them to get back up again.
Or maybe they have a strong Dutiful Princess streak, and their ultimate calling to do the right thing steers them off their disaster path and to the light.
But sometimes a Disaster Chosen One is just Jon Snow, a Disaster Chosen One with a secondary archetype of Dutiful Princess that leads him to make terrible choices out of what people he trusts are telling him is his warped duty.
We will have new character analysis pieces out periodically utilizing these new archetypes, as well as continuing to explore the fluidity of primary and secondary traits these archetypes bring with them, as well as more pieces on Dutiful Princesses as well.
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