****Warning – this post may contain links to TV Tropes****
Okay, so I wasn’t going to post again for a day or two, but I had a brief chat with a friend earlier after the first badass post and it led me to think about other characters who have gone the same way – becoming so badass that they sort of steal the show from all the normal people. Once I started making a list, it seemed to just go on and on and on, and every show and series seems to have at least one.
Here’s the thing that I found was really interesting – for the most part they aren’t the main character. They are usually, not always, but more often than not, a secondary or minor character when they start out. In terms of character development, taking a level in badass is one way to do it. I mean, characters change over time, but sometimes it just seems like levelling up is the only way it happens.
(TV Tropes has it’s very own page on this: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TookALevelInBadass)
Often it’s not necessarily immediately obvious – especially if done well- and it can take a rewatching / reading or a first and last episode / issue comparison to really see how much the character has changed.
Oh, so you want examples?
Neo – The Matrix
‘I know Kung Fu.’ Enough said really.
Pretty much everyone in the Buffyverse
I’m not even kidding. But mostly you’ll see the change in Willow – who got all super witchy and powerful (and a bit unstable) and Wesley. Both of them started out at kinda sweet, kinda useless characters, but by the end they were saving the world with gusto.
Hiro – Heroes
Hero goes from sweet, funny office worker to seriously badass in a pretty short space of time, mostly as a result of his girlfriend being brutally murdered by an almost unstoppable psychopath with superpowers. Hiro does the only thing that a mild mannered office worker can do in those situations, he gets himself a big ass sword, a swishy coat and grows a goatee. Hey, I never said it was a good plan.
(speaking of Hiro, and following on from my Daryl post earlier, I’m going to do a post about ‘weapon of choice cliches’ soon – so stay tuned)
Ginny Weasley – Harry Potter
Ginny went from being the shy younger sister of Harry’s best friend who was unable to speak in his presence, to, by the end of the series being a total badass who took on one of the most powerful witches in the world. Although we had hints of this throughout the book, with Ginny becoming increasingly able to stand up for herself, and a rather wicked sense of right and wrong when it came to unleashing curses against people she doesn’t like. It’s no coincidence that Ginny is a fan favourite and one of the most shipped about characters.
Neville Longbottom – Harry Potter
Neville was once the boy who was so pathetic that he was given House points for telling someone they should stay in bed. Throughout the series, as we found out more about him it seemed that Neville was suffering from a bad case of ‘Too Much Tragic’ but by the end of the series he had become something of a dark horse.
Lana Lang – Smallville canon
Lana Lang is generally considered, even by fans, to be a waste of oxygen. She was so…nice. And perfect. And helpless. And then she got possessed, started dressing in black and doing stupid shit like marrying billionaires she hates. It all got a little weird after that. Lana is a classic example of badass through external forces – something which is usually seen when characters come into contact with glowing rocks, radioactive anything, magic etc.
Yuna – Final Fantasy
Most of the characters in the Final Fantasy games gained several levels of badass at some point, but none more than Yuna who went from being a mild mannered magic user quietly resigned for her arranged marriage, to commandeering an air ship, loosing most of her clothes and rallying together a host of tough ass people to go find her dead boyfriend. Although hints of Yuna’s forthcoming change could be seen in the first game WHEN SHE THREW HERSELF OFF THE ROOF.
Zelda – Legend of Zelda
Zelda is, for the most part, useless. Sitting around waiting for Link to grow up so he can save her – seriously, if you are relying on Link then you really are in the shit. But then all of a sudden she transforms herself into a super awesome ninja-type fighting machine capable of kicking some serious ass. And then immediately goes back to being all girly and pathetic again. pfft.
John Crichton – Farscape
Crichton starts the series as a bit of a frightened pilot, not really sure what the hell is going on and just trying not to get killed before he figures it out. He’s all about the science and the wonder of the universe. Over the course of four series he developed into a serious power to be reckoned with, known throughout the universe. Admittedly, a lot of his badassery was instigated as a result of someone messing with his mind that sent him a little boogaloo and resulted in some of the best one liners of the series. John could have been too much badass had he not had Aeryn around to show him how it was done, although she softened through the series the further from her previous life she got. John on the other hand really struggled with his actions and just how far he was willing to go and John gradual descent into madness / rise into badassery was one of the highlights of the show and spawned quite possibly my favourite moment:
Crichton: I can’t believe it, I left a nuclear bomb in an elevator.
Chiana: Well that’s all right. You’ve done worse
So, that’s taking a level in badass explained.
In all, it’s not a bad thing. It allows for character development, and to be honest, if a character didn’t man up in some of those situations then as vewiers / readers we’d be pretty pissed. It’ kill or be killed folks, and if you don’t grow you die. That said, as I’ve already explained, it can get too much sometimes. It’s about balance. It’s about character.
Now I’m off to watch some Farscape, and for you folks out there who have never seen it, check it out. It’s got some great writing, fantastic acting and some serious eye candy.
Have a nice evening folks,
Catch you tomorrow.