FANDOM


WikEd fancyquotesQuotesBug-silkHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extensionPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifierAnalysisPhoto linkImage LinksHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic

A female character of significant rank or status who exists solely to lose said rank or status barely five minutes into the story... and long before she can get any decent characterization.

This is an unfortunate variation of The Obi Wrong, where the sole qualification for getting a demotion is possessing girly parts.

In some cases, the writers of a show with a male demographic want to acknowledge that females exist in this universe, even if the main characters are nearly all boys/men. As a sort of compromise, they often introduce a high-ranking female at the end of her career. The (male) protagonist meets her briefly, probably mentioning her former achievements as he does so, and then she politely vacates the spotlight so that the boys can get on with things, her pride and former glory intact. Depending on the cultural background of the work, her retirement may be less about age or ability and more about leaving to start a family. In these cases, she may make a speech about how a woman's place is in the home, and everyone will applaud her departure into domesticity. (Another variant is the woman getting a promotion, or a transfer, in which case this trope does not apply.)

Unfortunately, there's also a more misogynistic, Writer on Board variation. These will have the woman demoralised to make a point, and that point is that women aren't cut out to be in charge. Either she screws up badly and gets fired or demoted, or she's completely overruled and undermined by a male character who automatically assumes control of the situation through no qualification other than having a Y-chromosome. She will either immediately accept this and take on a more stereotypically female role (most likely The Chick), or protest this demotion and be punished by the plot. Expect her to become a love-interest whether she likes it or not.

This can sometimes be the official form of Chickification, since the reduction in rank is often accompanied by a reduction in ability or effectiveness (making you wonder how she got promoted in the first place). If she stays in the story, the focus often shifts away from her career and more towards her emotional and romantic life.

Note that not all female characters who get demoted fit into this trope - this is for examples where sexism (either in-setting or by the writer) is clearly the primary factor. The Obi Wrong is when gender-neutral circumstances create the same problem.

Compare Hysterical Woman, which may go hand in hand with this trope.

Examples of Quickly-Demoted Woman include:


Anime and Manga

  • In the manga Mars, male protagonist Rei originally has a female senior racing partner, Kyoko -- an experienced motorcycle rider who teams up with him for the 8-Endurance race. After the race, Kyoko tells Rei's girlfriend, Kira, that that event was her last. She retires to support her husband, Akitaka "as his wife." Given that Akitaka (formerly a racer himself) lost a leg thanks to reckless riding, perhaps this would be understandable...except that he doesn't give up motorcycles, staying on to coach Rei while Kyoko fades from the picture. Just to add insult to injury, a later conversation notes that it was probably best that Kyoko retired when she did, since motorcycling is no sport for a woman and she'd just have been humiliated by the male racers if she'd stayed on.
  • Maria in Sakura Taisen very quickly accepts a demotion to allow a guy to come in and take over the squad. She even comments that it's because she's a women that they don't listen to her. Yes, she shows great command skill later; but this is a rather lame way to justify the series Dating Sim roots.
  • Relena Peacecraft from Gundam Wing. She becomes Queen of the World... only for Treize to take over.
  • Bazett Fraga McRemitz of Fate/stay night, Lancer's Master and the only female Master who isn't from one of the three families, is killed without appearing onscreen, and Lancer comes under Kotomine's control.
    • However, she gets rescued by the Sequel, where she is the center of events.

Comic Books

  • In The Halo Graphic Novel, there's a short story about a spectacularly talented soldier test-driving the famous MJOLNIR armor. We all expect the soldier to be Master Chief, but at the end of the story she takes off her helmet and we find out that Samus Is a Girl. Once revealed to be female, she says something about retiring in order to start a family and wanders out of the extended universe forever.
  • Not quite "quickly", but Snow White in Fables has had about half a page in the sixty-odd issues since she gave birth in which she's been shown to have any interest in anything except her husband and kids.
  • In Marvel both Maria Hill and Ultimate Carol Danvers were in control of SHIELD but was then replaced by a Stark.

Film

  • 1938 theatrical serial Buck Rogers features Lt. Wilma Dearing, a capable commander in Earth's military forces of the 25th Century... until the arrival of Fish Out of Temporal Water Buck Rogers, who strides in and immediately assumes command, as if it were his inherent right to do so. And she just steps to the wayside, basking in his masculine superiority without argument; she even takes orders from him! The application of the trope in this instance is (very slightly) tempered by the era in which it was made.
    • By way of contrast, the television series from the 1970s was only marginally better in this regard. Though Buck was a Marty Stu in general in that series, with military commanders, scientists, and even superhuman AI's bending themselves backwards to accommodate his old-fashioned ways-- which always proved superior.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 target Project Moonbase was ripped on mercilessly for its blatant sexism. The female Colonel Briteis, who apparently was better than the male Major Moore and now outranks him, is immediately subjected to blatant sexism when they are placed on a mission together. Her superiors jokingly threaten to spank her if she gets out of line and she spends the rest of the movie subservient to someone she actually outranks. In any situation of peril, she fails and the male hero is always lauded for his manly heroics. The Colonel even apologizes for "getting all female". The actual demotion doesn't happen until the end of the film, where Moore is promoted to Brigadier after they get married entirely because a woman has to be subservient to her husband. Despite how late this happens, the whole movie seems dedicated to this concept.

Literature

  • Averted in Warhammer 40000's Ciaphas Cain, Hero of the Imperium series: When the 597th Valhallan is formed from what's left of two regiments, one all-male and one all-female, after being chewed up and spat out by the Tyranids, the post of colonel goes to the female Kasteen due to her being a few months senior (and a Noble). Cain notes on how this wasn't well-received by the remnants of the male regiment - the women were a garrison regiment while the men were actual front-line fighters (and their major had more combat experience). After teething troubles in the first book, the point is never raised again and the regiment works rather well.

Live Action TV

  • Samantha Carter seems aware of and worried about this trope in the pilot of Stargate SG-1, as she's noticeably (yet awesomely) defensive about a male who outranks her being brought in to potentially lead another Stargate expedition. Fortunately, her apparent fears are unfounded, as Colonel O'Neill was tapped for a perfectly good reason and, witty banter aside, is perfectly respectful of women (scientists, on the other hand, have to do some proving of themselves.) Carter quickly becomes the show's Lancer and co-Smart Guy, and leads the team after Jack's eventual departure.
    • In the later seasons you had Colonel Mitchell being brought in to lead SG-1 after O'Neill's departure, despite Carter being of equal rank and actually having been on the team much longer. Indeed, many fans complained that Mitchell only made it on the team for failing to die after crashing his plane in the middle of a firefight. Although ultimately the trope was averted in that Carter and Mitchell both seemed to share equal command responsibility, and Mitchell's status got him the Butt Monkey treatment on more than a few occasions ("Don't touch that! <rolls eyes>. New guy!").
      • And then she became the leader of the Atlantis expedition. Replacing the previous also female leader.
      • Then her web-series got picked up and she was put through a wormhole. The Obstructive Bureaucrat took her place. Talk about Real Life Writes the Plot.
      • SG-1 being nothing more than an official TOE at the time, Col Mitchell's heading the team is more Jack O'Neill's idea of a practical joke than any denigration of Col Carter, who was by all accounts very very very happily heading up Area 51's R&D - and who refused to rejoin the team for some time (5 episodes IIRC).
  • Subverted on Homicide: Life On the Street. Shortly after Lieutenant Megan Russert is promoted to Captain, she is double-demoted back down to Detective. Although her initial promotion was an example of Political Correctness Gone Mad (it is flat-out stated that she was picked because 60% of registered Baltimore voters are female), she has proven herself to be a competent and well-liked administrator. Her demotion, therefore, is used as still further proof that Colonel Barnfather is a Pointy-Haired Boss.
  • In a Seven Days episode, a new top-of-the-line American destroyer is sunk by a Chinese submarine, after the former opens fire (both are destroyed). A high-ranking admiral is on-board the ship at the time. Parker goes back in time to prevent the incident. Incidentally, the captain is an old friend, and flame, of his, being the first female captain in the US Navy. One officer even complains about the situation to his wife prior to boarding. Shortly after leaving port, the captain nearly shoots down a civilian airplane that was experiencing radio trouble and couldn't identify itself. The admiral has her relieved and takes command. Thing is, she acted in accordance with official policy when an unidentified aircraft entered range. The fact that she didn't open fire could probably be a violation. Subverted in that It turns out that it is the admiral who is the crazy one. He intends to martyr himself to fire the first shot in a war between the "Red Dragon" and the US. Luckily, the President outranks him. In the end, the same officer who complained expresses the desire to serve under the captain.
  • This happened so early in CSI: Miami it actually happened before the timeframe of the series: The pilot featured Megan Donner, the former day shift supervisor who comes back after a 6 months leave, only to find Horatio Caine in her position (and with no apparent hope of getting it back). It seems also that while H is kind of a Team Dad for the group Megan has a cold or simply professional relationship with most of its members. The character was eventually Put on a Bus when producers decided actress Kim Delaney had not enough onscreen chemistry with David Caruso.
    • A later flashback episode puts Caine on the case that would lead to CSI's creation with no mention of Donner.
  • CSI original version averted it for the most part-Catherine was a Supervisor for several years, then became head of the Graveyard shift, though that only lasted two seasons.
  • In first colour Doctor Who serial we are introduced to U.N.I.T.'s specialist scientific advisor, Dr Elizabeth Shaw. Demoted to assistant to the specialist scientific advisor when The Doctor turns up and takes on that role. It is Lampshaded that her departure at the end of the season is due to her distaste for this turn of events.
    • Admittedly, Unfortunate Implications aside, this is at least justified. The Doctor is an alien with a higher IQ than the whole human race combined, and centuries of experience.
  • Power Rangers Wild Force, of all things, had this. Unlike Power Rangers Time Force, where Pink Ranger Jen was the Leader no matter what, the series started out with Yellow Ranger Taylor as leader of the team. When Rookie Red Ranger Cole shows up and is declared leader, Taylor isn't thrilled and spends at least another episode still trying to hold on to that command before giving up and letting Cole take control.

Video Games

  • Ridley Silverlake from Radiata Stories. She gets to complete one successful mission before she's hit with a Game-Breaking Injury. The player does have the chance to get her back in the party, but by then, most of her Character Development will have happened away from the main character.
    • This is actually a subversion though, in that Ridley is actually promoted to Captain while Jack is fired from the knights. So this is more a case of Promoted Woman or Demoted Main Character, although the promotion does remove her from the story since it follows Jack.
  • In Suikoden, the leader of the resistance Odessa is soon demoted upon meeting the hero to "dead", though not before she becomes an implied love interest ("You couldn't sleep either?" + speaking while looking at the stars = Love trope). She specifically comments on how she can't be a heroic leader and a woman at the same time when she shields a little kid from arrows. (Because, you know, the male hero would never do that and just let the kid die.) Her last words are essentially to never mention her again and throw her corpse into the sewers to never be found (both to keep the resistance hidden). Then find her big brother. The only sign of her existence in later games is that Flik names his sword after her.
    • Also, Apple in Suikoden II. After screwing up as a strategist, she decides (explicitly) that it is because she is a woman, and has you seek out a proper male strategist who can win battles for you. This is implied to be more her lack of self-confidence than anything else, though, as she still comes up with good ideas even after you find the new strategist.
  • A variant occurs in Halo 3: ODST. The commanding officer is a woman, but while she's not demoted, she's patronized by her subordinates, viewed as eye-candy by the troops, has her orders ignored, gets rescued by a male character whom she used to be involved with, has her authority stepped on by lower-ranking officers during ops that are supposed to be her speciality, and is apparently fine with all of this.
    • Though some of this may be due to the fact that she's part of the Office of Naval Intelligence, who are usually officers without too much front-line experience and who in most cases are not trusted by the rank-and-file, being referred to in derogatory manner as "spooks" (She is in fact called this a couple times... by her love-interest). In short, it's not because she's a woman (well, excepting Romeo's quips) but because she's O.N.I.
      • How exactly were Dare's orders ignored? At the time of the slip space jump that split up The Squad, none of them actually knew what Dare had planned for them to do. How is The Squad supposed to carry out orders that their CO hasn't even given them?
      • Plus, Buck's somewhat callous treatment of her can be explained by a) previously being in a relationship with her, b) said relationship ending with Dare vanishing without a goodbye after Buck asked her to marry him, and c) Dare doesn't seem to mind.
      • This smells more of Positive Discrimination than anything else. All male team? Got to give them a female boss, otherwise it's 'sexist'.
  • Callo Merlose in Vagrant Story. Although she carries the title of "Inquisitor", she's told to stay out of the plot (lacking combat experience) before the opening sequence is even over, immediately gets kidnapped, and spends the rest of the game just standing around. This turns out to be her job: she's a psychic, which means the longer she stays with the villains who kidnapped her, the more she's finding out without having to actually do anything but stand around.
  • Alys of Phantasy Star IV, who dies about halfway through the first act of the game, leaving her student, Chaz, as de facto leader. Unlike most other examples, she gets plenty of development (to the point of being a Decoy Protagonist), and appears at the end of the game as one of the spirits sheltered by Elsydeon.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.