Avox in Arcadia (perpetual) wrote,
Avox in Arcadia

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Fandom Snowflake Challenge: Day 13

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Day 14

In your own space, share your love for something fannish: a trope, cliché, kink, motif, theme, format, or fandom.

Let me tell you about the Outcast Protector.

I didn't find this one on TVtropes.org, which doesn't mean it isn't there under a different name. I use the phrasing that I find most descriptive. Don't read it as "Protector of Outcasts"; I'm talking about characters who are both.

Protector: So you're strong. Now what? The protector knows that some people aren't so lucky. Their weakness doesn't make them lesser, but it means they need help, and the power to be the one who can help them amounts to a duty.

Outcast: Sometimes, the strong are admired and even exalted. Sometimes they're feared and ridiculed. The outcast is the latter, due to some unfortunate inherent quality, the conditions of the setting, or plain bad luck.

I enjoy stories about protectors pretty much anywhere I find them. I put more qualifiers on stories about outcasts, but combine the two? Oh man.

One-on-one, there's a lot you can do with an innocent, delicate protagonist and her (or his, but let's be honest, usually her) devoted, intimidating bodyguard. Obviously, they can fall in love, which has the added bonus of being FORBIDDEN because of the outcast status of one lover. Sookie/Bill worked magic on me for precisely this reason. If the protector is a bit simple or a literal animal, you can get an adorable gentle giant dynamic going on. Think Princess Jasmine and her tiger. You can have an ordinary pair of forever friends, one of whom has a berserk button for harm done to the other one - who earned his loyalty by being the first one to treat him like a real person. Hello, Rocket and Groot (and for them it's two-way)!

But then there are the Outcast Protectors who aren't in it for a singular ward. The ones who guard entire cities, or worlds, or life wherever they find it. The examples in easy reach are mostly superheroes, whose backstories usually contain some element of willing sacrifice, and all of my favorites - Nightcrawler, Daredevil, Hellboy, the Manhattan Clan, the Incredibles - are cut off from society through no fault of their own. They risk their lives saving ordinary people from extraordinary threats, and instead of being met with gratitude, they're blamed and reviled. (Don't look too closely at my examples; there's some mix-and-match going on here.)

Why do they keep doing it anyway? Love. Agape. The understanding that others' right to life isn't based on their friendliness.

This has actually been my favorite trope since before fandom, and certainly before I recognized it. Ever wonder why I like gargoyles so much? Not the cartoon, I mean actual stone gargoyles/grotesques. Legend has it that they were originally designed to be frightening and ugly so that they could scare demons away from the church. God help me, I find that crushing. Who's going to love you if you're scarier than evil itself? Who looks up at a leering stone monster and appreciates it for a job well done? But the gargoyles don't complain; they just sit there for centuries on end, guarding holy places, because the holy places are worth guarding even if the gargoyles will never get anything out of it.

But I do have a perfect fandom example, and I bet you knew it was coming: Angel. He starts out as Buffy's protector, just an unnaturally powerful guy with no hope of reconciling with humanity. When he finds someone who needs him, he devotes himself to her entirely, knowing that her success and happiness is a fair trade for his own survival, if it comes to that. (Yes, I know Buffy isn't delicate. Power is fluid, and Angel knows he can complement her strengths. Okay, so it's not a perfect fandom example.) Gradually, he widens his scope until all humanity is under his protection, knowing he can never be part of it. He can't even blame the world against its prejudice against vampires; he knows better than anyone that it's justified. The only comfort he can find in his role is the hope that he's making a difference, and even that never gets beyond hope.

I had a lot more to say about this but I think I've made a decent outline. If you can think of any characters or relationships who you think fit this trope, tell me tell me!
Tags: buffyverse, character: angel, meme, poetry

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