What is the English term for protagonist having special luck and being none-killable?


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Hi, in fictions/novels/movies and many other media, the main character usually has an extraordinary fortune which prevents him from getting seriously injured (fatal injuries that cause permanent death or permanent disability with no other ways for the protagonist to revive/recover), unless the story wants to introduce a new protagonist, is near the end, or wants to explore the world after death, etc.

I've been searching around google but cannot find any term similar. While I know it is a plot device (like deu ex machina), I cannot seem to find the adjective for this. Does such term exist?

English is not my first language; that's reason I've trouble trying to find the word for this setup. Thanks in advance.

Shadow Lodge RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

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Mirage Wolf wrote:

Hi, in fictions/novels/movies and many other media, the main character usually has an extraordinary fortune which prevents him from getting seriously injured (fatal injuries that cause permanent death or permanent disability with no other ways for the protagonist to revive/recover), unless the story wants to introduce a new protagonist, is near the end, or wants to explore the world after death, etc.

I've been searching around google but cannot find any term similar. While I know it is a plot device (like deu ex machina), I cannot seem to find the adjective for this. Does such term exist?

English is not my first language; that's reason I've trouble trying to find the word for this setup. Thanks in advance.

Plot Armor?


Plot armor

Warning: TV Tropes link!


Aha. Well done, Benchak.


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Thank you both very much. I'm going to read related articles now. :)


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God.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Aaaaannnnnd we lost another one.


Cinematic Hero. Also characterized by never running out of ammo unless needed as a plot device.


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Maximilian! Prepare the Cygnus' anti-gravity forcefield generators! I will begin the calculations to plot us a course through...

THE TROPES HOLE!!! {cue menacing orchestral score}

Scarab Sages

Common sense?

Does anybody expect the author of a novel to throw a coin every few chapters to see if he needs to maim or kill his protagonist - if not then of course such things will only happen for plot reasons...


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Dr. Hans Reinhardt wrote:

Maximilian! Prepare the Cygnus' anti-gravity forcefield generators! I will begin the calculations to plot us a course through...

THE TROPES HOLE!!! {cue menacing orchestral score}

Now I'll understand all those posters who speak entirely in tropes!


Chuck Norris


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Mirage Wolf wrote:
Thank you both very much. I'm going to read related articles now. :)

Good luck. If we don't hear back from you in one week we're calling the cops.

Dark Archive

Kairos Dawnfury wrote:
Dr. Hans Reinhardt wrote:

Maximilian! Prepare the Cygnus' anti-gravity forcefield generators! I will begin the calculations to plot us a course through...

THE TROPES HOLE!!! {cue menacing orchestral score}

Now I'll understand all those posters who speak entirely in tropes!

... You raaaaaaang ...?

... Ahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahhah ...


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Kairos Dawnfury wrote:
Dr. Hans Reinhardt wrote:

Maximilian! Prepare the Cygnus' anti-gravity forcefield generators! I will begin the calculations to plot us a course through...

THE TROPES HOLE!!! {cue menacing orchestral score}

Now I'll understand all those posters who speak entirely in tropes!

It's funny... when I first saw Darmok on ST:TNG, I enjoyed it but found the concept too far-fetched, even as a childhood consumer of much sci-fi. But now, I realize that it isn't just possible, but it is happening right now to vast chunks of Intertoobz communities... and to my own communication and thinking.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

If you exchange the situations for when it's skill or talent instead of luck that makes somebody virtually invincible then it's more a case of being a Mary Sue.

feytharn wrote:

Common sense?

Does anybody expect the author of a novel to throw a coin every few chapters to see if he needs to maim or kill his protagonist - if not then of course such things will only happen for plot reasons...

Your saying that in a way most forms of entertainment follow an built in mechanism similar to the anthropic principle? Thinking about it I guess I could buy that as a book/movie/show/comic/video game would really suck if the protagonist got killed in the second page or the first few minutes by a random mook. Only the forms of entertainment where the protagonist last close to the end can practically exist for us in the first place.

Scarab Sages

Drock11 wrote:

If you exchange the situations for when it's skill or talent instead of luck that makes somebody virtually invincible then it's more a case of being a Mary Sue.

feytharn wrote:

Common sense?

Does anybody expect the author of a novel to throw a coin every few chapters to see if he needs to maim or kill his protagonist - if not then of course such things will only happen for plot reasons...

Your saying that in a way most forms of entertainment follow an built in mechanism similar to the anthropic principle? Thinking about it I guess I could buy that as a book/movie/show/comic/video game would really suck if the protagonist got killed in the second page or the first few minutes by a random mook. Only the forms of entertainment where the protagonist last close to the end can practically exist for us in the first place.

That would be over-thinking it IMHO. If the story told is fictional, the fate of the characters lies completely in the hands and mind of the author. unless the author is using some strange random plot generator, everything the character experiences, including maiming and death is happening for plot reason as planned out by the author. There is simply no possibility for something like that happening at random.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
feytharn wrote:
That would be over-thinking it IMHO.

I wasn't being totally serious. It was semi tongue in cheek, even if it does have some similarities in a round about way as almost no creator is going to create a work where random chance kills the hero very early like you have said. Some form of plot armor is essential in any fictional work that involves large amounts of conflict or violence.


Some form is essential, but there are definitely degrees.

Some stories the protagonist may get in danger but mostly gets out of it on his merits. In others the author resorts to ridiculous coincidences to rescue his hero from the trouble he put him in.
Sometimes, especially in modern action movies, because they want to ramp the apparent danger and tension up to 11.
Think of the first Hobbit movie: In the book, the group is up in trees to escape the pursuing goblins and are rescued by the eagles as the goblins are trying to burn them out. In the movie, they're not only up in trees, but the trees are at the edge of a cliff and topple over and dwarves are dangling and there's a fight and a couple dwarves actually fall -- onto the back of an eagle.


Ambrosia Slaad wrote:
Kairos Dawnfury wrote:
Dr. Hans Reinhardt wrote:

Maximilian! Prepare the Cygnus' anti-gravity forcefield generators! I will begin the calculations to plot us a course through...

THE TROPES HOLE!!! {cue menacing orchestral score}

Now I'll understand all those posters who speak entirely in tropes!
It's funny... when I first saw Darmok on ST:TNG, I enjoyed it but found the concept too far-fetched, even as a childhood consumer of much sci-fi. But now, I realize that it isn't just possible, but it is happening right now to vast chunks of Intertoobz communities... and to my own communication and thinking.

Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls by Jane Lindskold (Aug 8, 2006). The protagoniste is a young, autistic woman who can only communicate by quoting from materials she has read. It's a fascinating book.


Because

I will take on the evil empire

The hero is shot at, missed.

Narrowly survives drowning.

sneaks past the guards.

Smites the emperor in the face!

is a much better story than.

"I will take on the evil empire

*BLAM*

the end.


BigNorseWolf wrote:

Because

I will take on the evil empire

The hero is shot at, missed.

Narrowly survives drowning.

sneaks past the guards.

Smites the emperor in the face!

is a much better story than.

"I will take on the evil empire

*BLAM*

the end.

Actually, a story in the style of the second example you cite can be both effectively written *and* as a bonus set up a sequel where the hero's embittered daughter delves into darkness and successfully takes over the evil empire from within... ;)


Well, while the story structure may not work if the protagonist perishes, I felt sidekicks having more scenes is more interesting than the protagonist being Mary Sue. (?) For example, from Hong Kong comics to Adventures of Tintin, the main characters' "adventures" most of time involve no risks because they're set to be immortal.

Last two Hong Kong comics I read, one was about a protagonist who would have his skull getting smashed by all kinds of weapons during fights. For about 100 episodes or more, he still got hit all over, but none of the bruises ever turned into a scar. Another Hong Kong comic simply took most of the fight scenes from the main character's part to the sidekicks and suddenly the reading sucked me in. Since side kicks are none-primary characters and may suffer from all kinds of misfortune, their scenes felt more closer to risk and reward scenes than the protagonist being treated favorably.


Charles Evans 25 wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:

Because

I will take on the evil empire

The hero is shot at, missed.

Narrowly survives drowning.

sneaks past the guards.

Smites the emperor in the face!

is a much better story than.

"I will take on the evil empire

*BLAM*

the end.

Actually, a story in the style of the second example you cite can be both effectively written *and* as a bonus set up a sequel where the hero's embittered daughter delves into darkness and successfully takes over the evil empire from within... ;)

Game of Thrones spoiler, just in case anyone reading this lives under a rock:

Spoiler:
Or where the hero's son takes up his father's cause only to get assassinated at his uncle's wedding a book and a half later . . .

GRRM is a funny writer to consider when taking about plot armor. He can't be writing his characters' deaths as arbitrarily as it feels as it he is when you're reading ASoIaF, but at this point, I'm completely unwilling to say who has plot armor, or even what plot armor looks like in Westeros.


Two words for the GRRM people. Tyrion Lannister.

And another pair of words for the same folk. Daenerys Targaryen.


Okay, Icy, but would you mind including a few more words, so the rest of us know what point you're trying to make about those two characters?


Indeed. Its slowly killing the series for me.


Hitdice wrote:
Okay, Icy, but would you mind including a few more words, so the rest of us know what point you're trying to make about those two characters?

I suspect he's saying that they both have some pretty blatant plot armor.

As you suggest, he's not writing deaths arbitrarily at all. Near as I can tell he's deliberately setting certain characters up to look like the type of character who'd normally have plot armor, then killing them. Maximum shock effect that way.

It kind of falls apart as the series goes on though. There's too much plot hung off of some characters now to kill them without some kind of resolution. (Of course either Tyrion or Daenerys could get a standard arc closure kind of death, probably near the end of the series, but that's different.)

Or at least that's what I remember from the last time I read one of those. Which was probably about 10 years ago.


Icyshadow wrote:

Two words for the GRRM people. Tyrion Lannister.

And another pair of words for the same folk. Daenerys Targaryen.

Don't forget to include Jon Snow.


thejeff wrote:
Hitdice wrote:
Okay, Icy, but would you mind including a few more words, so the rest of us know what point you're trying to make about those two characters?

I suspect he's saying that they both have some pretty blatant plot armor.

As you suggest, he's not writing deaths arbitrarily at all. Near as I can tell he's deliberately setting certain characters up to look like the type of character who'd normally have plot armor, then killing them. Maximum shock effect that way.

It kind of falls apart as the series goes on though. There's too much plot hung off of some characters now to kill them without some kind of resolution. (Of course either Tyrion or Daenerys could get a standard arc closure kind of death, probably near the end of the series, but that's different.)

Or at least that's what I remember from the last time I read one of those. Which was probably about 10 years ago.

My fault for using it as much everyone else, but Gods be feathered, I hate the term plot armor. But I'll keep using it, just 'cause we all know what we're talking about when we say it.

Yes, it looks like Tyrion and Daenerys are in it until the end of the series, but how would you say their plot armor is blatant? I don't feel like their survival is any more contrived than other characters in the series.

Though, having finished A Dance with Dragons I do have to admit that Jon Snow should definitely be added to the plot armor list.


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Alleran wrote:
Icyshadow wrote:

Two words for the GRRM people. Tyrion Lannister.

And another pair of words for the same folk. Daenerys Targaryen.

Don't forget to include Jon Snow.

I think the jury's still out on that issue.


Fabius Maximus wrote:
Alleran wrote:
Icyshadow wrote:

Two words for the GRRM people. Tyrion Lannister.

And another pair of words for the same folk. Daenerys Targaryen.

Don't forget to include Jon Snow.
I think the jury's still out on that issue.

Possible, I suppose. But that would mean losing pretty much the only viewpoint character on that entire part of the plot.


Jon Snow:
He has three ways of coming back from the dead. First he can survive despite the narrative description (lest likely), second he did drop dead at the feet of a woman who can raise the dead, third and this bookends with the prologue, he's going to be inside ghost (either until melisandre can res him or permanantly because we don't know if a cleric of r'hlor can res someone who's soul is stuck in a critter)


Referred to in a bad way, it's being a Mary Sue.
A Mary Sue is the character that never dies, never does wrong, always defeats the villain and very regularly gets the girl/guy.


This has turned into a spoiler thread.


John McClane.


Quantum Immortality, every second reality splits off into infinite realities but only the observed one is real. To an outside observer the observed reality is the most likely one, however to the subject the only realities possible to be observed are the ones in which they survive, therefore the subject observes only the mist likely reality in which they survive.


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Yeah but then you get into Alpha and Beta realities and the whole thing turns into a timey-wimey mess of alternate existences and self-referential recurrencies.

Grand Lodge

feytharn wrote:

Common sense?

Does anybody expect the author of a novel to throw a coin every few chapters to see if he needs to maim or kill his protagonist - if not then of course such things will only happen for plot reasons...

This is how you can spot a person who has never read Game of Thrones


EntrerisShadow wrote:
feytharn wrote:

Common sense?

Does anybody expect the author of a novel to throw a coin every few chapters to see if he needs to maim or kill his protagonist - if not then of course such things will only happen for plot reasons...

This is how you can spot a person who has never read Game of Thrones

We've been through that.

He very obviously doesn't do that. I suspect he deliberately set certain characters up to be the type that usually get plot armor, but planned to kill them all along.

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