User:LancedSoul/sandbox/They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character

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"Every time I watch a show, I get hooked on one particular character who isn't a main character. He or she only gets about one or two scenes per episode, and I watch while slowly and unconsciously ripping a hole out of the sofa pillow with my teeth, because it seems like only I can see the potential in this person that ISN'T being exploited!"
Peter Paltridge

"They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character" is the trope and brilliant that might serve any role in the story, but no matter what trope they fall under, whether it be single trope or many, they all have one thing in common: you love them with a passion, but the writer doesn't. At least not to the same extent. For whatever reason, the work has gifted the audience with what you think is a fantastic new addition to the cast, but they just never seem to get the screentime you think they deserve. That Day in the Limelight isn't forthcoming, nor are any more hints about their mysterious past getting dropped. You never get to hear their snarky remarks on a situation that just calls for it, and after five pages of teasing they get Put on a Bus to Nowhereville or get a bridge dropped on them.

Often happens with characters that are introduced for a only a single episode or two, or have mere supporting roles in a work that is already juggling Loads and Loads of Characters. These are characters that have an interesting backstory or interact with the main cast in intriguing new ways, setting the stage for compelling future plots or new dynamics if made a permanent fixture, or at least a recurring character — but those things never happen because the character in question ended up underdeveloped or underutilized by the narrative. This also happens to characters who only turn up within supplementary materials or, in a video game, through sidequests (which are very likely to be skipped and ignored). This can be especially annoying if these supplementary materials were never made available in your country.

Please note that this trope is about ignored characters with good potential who never receive the spotlight (or do so just once and then get removed or forgotten). It is not about leading characters who are not used the way you would like; there are infinite alternative ways any given character could have been used. It is not either about characters who have a limited or supporting role in one work but have leading roles elsewhere in the franchise, that's a Hero of Another Story.

Examples of characters that got wasted


Live-action films

Animated films

  • Space Jam: A New Legacy:
    • Despite being advertised as a player, Marvin the Martian only appears to have his ship stolen and then get flattened by it a few times. He never joins with the other Tunes (despite other traditionally 'villainous' ones doing so) for no discernible reason. Especially bad given he was already underutilized in the first film, which at least had a clever reason for his limited role. Even worse is his second appearance alongside all the other toons could've easily been rewritten to have him get recruited.
    • The Goon Squad all have interesting designs and abilities, but they only appear during the game itself and therefore don't have the same presence that the Monstars did.
    • The Monstars themselves are limited to a few brief cameos (in their normal Nerdluck forms) during the climactic game when they appear, never once directly interacting with the Tunes. It doesn't help they're just reused footage from the first movie.
    • While Daffy has one of the larger roles as the Toon Squad's manager and coach, several fans were disappointed that he didn't get to contribute to the game as a player unlike in the first film, despite the marketing promotion, such as toys, shirts, and posters.
    • Pepé Le Pew infamously doesn't appear here, even though the filmmakers originally planned to include him and address the controversy around his character. Similarly, Penelope was originally supposed to be on the team but is nowhere to be found, most likely due to her affiliation with Pepé.
    • While this film arguably spreads the wealth amongst the Tunes' screentime better than the first, a few of them never get the chance to show off in the climactic game. Particularly bad is Foghorn Leghorn and Speedy Gonzales' cases, as the former only had one small assist in the first film and the latter is the only new player who doesn't get a scene highlighting any contribution to the game.
    • Of all the IPs owned by WarnerMedia, we never see any Cartoon Network characters, not even the main characters from Teen Titans Go!.
    • The other NBA and WNBA players who star in the film —- Anthony Davis, Klay Thompson, Damian Lillard, Nneka Ogwumike and Diana Taurasi —- only get a brief scene where they cameo as themselves. The rest of the film relegates them to voicing the digitized teammates of Al-G and Dom which only exist to use their special powers to play basketball. This is a stark contrast to the professional athletes who starred alongside Michael Jordan in the first film, who had an entire subplot of losing their talent and facing fallout from it.
    • Given the film hints at a Wizard of Oz world appearance, you might expect Witch Hazel to appear as the Wicked Witch of the West, but she's only given a very brief cameo.
    • The cameos from the other Warner properties in general. As soon as the first leaks came out, people assumed the Tunes were going to face off against the likes of Joker and the It (2017) version of Pennywise, and not the Goon Squad that was in the final film. In the end however, almost every one is reduced to nothing more than a background cameo, with the live action worlds being visualized by Stock Footage.

Why This Trope Sucks