Examples of stories where an outcast's skills save the day
March 29, 2020 7:01 PM   Subscribe

This should be an easy one, but I'm drawing a blank. I need a well-known example (one that most people will get the reference) of a story where a character has a trait that is looked down upon the community, but something happens and suddenly that oddball or offensive or quirky trait saves the day.
posted by robverb to Media & Arts (33 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer?
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 7:03 PM on March 29, 2020 [69 favorites]

War Games?
posted by jessamyn at 7:03 PM on March 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

An early Heinlein story, Misfit, fits that bill.
posted by dws at 7:16 PM on March 29, 2020

Abi Yoyo
posted by eleanna at 7:17 PM on March 29, 2020 [3 favorites]

Sadness, in "Inside Out"?
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:44 PM on March 29, 2020 [4 favorites]

A Prayer for Owen Meany.
posted by miles1972 at 7:45 PM on March 29, 2020 [5 favorites]

How To Train Your Dragon
posted by at at 7:52 PM on March 29, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Andrew Cuomo being a micromanaging bully who gets shit done?
posted by HotToddy at 8:11 PM on March 29, 2020 [12 favorites]

Walter the Farting Dog
posted by Violet Hour at 8:55 PM on March 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

The recent Disney movie "Frozen".

The entirety of the medical series "House", in a way.
posted by amtho at 9:31 PM on March 29, 2020

Swamp Witch -- awesome song from the 60s

posted by pushing paper and bottoming chairs at 9:50 PM on March 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

Frederick, by Leo Lionni : )
posted by elgee at 10:02 PM on March 29, 2020 [2 favorites]


Legally Blonde

Harry Potter
posted by nouvelle-personne at 10:08 PM on March 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

Ender’s Game, maybe?
posted by Weeping_angel at 10:26 PM on March 29, 2020

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was my first thought, too!
posted by inexorably_forward at 10:35 PM on March 29, 2020 [2 favorites]

The 2002 movie Punch-Drunk Love, with Adam Sandler, Emily Watson, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Mary Lynn Rajskub.

Oh...except most people haven’t heard of it, so not such a great example after all. It’s a super fun film though!
posted by cartoonella at 10:40 PM on March 29, 2020 [2 favorites]

Edward Scissorhands
posted by Zumbador at 10:41 PM on March 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

Not so well known but worth sharing: Two Old Women, as told in writing by Velma Wallis. An Athabaskan story where two grumpy, frustrated old ladies with chronic health problems and social disconnect ultimately save themselves and their extended community to the admiration of all.
posted by VelveteenBabbitt at 10:59 PM on March 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

The parable of the Good Samaritan is one of the best known, where the person from the aloof (by definition) religious/cultural group turns out to be the merciful neighbour.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 11:03 PM on March 29, 2020

Children of God by Mary Doria Russell has an element of this (it's the second book in the series, The Sparrow comes first).
posted by terretu at 12:36 AM on March 30, 2020

This immediately made me think of Strikebreaker by Isaac Asimov (1957, plot summary here). Probably not universally known though.
posted by richb at 2:10 AM on March 30, 2020

Monsters' University
posted by unicorn chaser at 2:43 AM on March 30, 2020

Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird? He's the only one who notices the children are in danger.
posted by Otter_Handler at 2:46 AM on March 30, 2020 [2 favorites]

Stranger Things
posted by I am a Sock, I am an Island at 4:06 AM on March 30, 2020

Ender's Game comes to mind
posted by gryftir at 6:14 AM on March 30, 2020

Sort of depends on how much of an outcast we're considering, but the Hunger Games novels (even more than the movies) make a big deal about how Katniss is super prickly and hates everyone but two people and does tons of illegal hunting and foraging and is a big ol' loner which, you know are pretty good skills to have when you're stuck in a death match and then becoming a figurehead for the revolution.

And generally I feel like this fits a ton of superhero tropes: most of the Xmen are outcasts, and Peter Parker is kind of a nerdy loser until...
posted by TwoStride at 6:21 AM on March 30, 2020

Maniac Magee
posted by sepviva at 6:31 AM on March 30, 2020

Seems to me that a lot of children's books have this theme, but my reading-to-children days are long behind me and the best I can think of is How The Grinch Stole Christmas where the day is saved by the community's smallest member.
posted by SemiSalt at 7:55 AM on March 30, 2020

Gilligan's Island
posted by TrishaU at 8:33 AM on March 30, 2020

Everyone makes fun of Philip J. Fry because he's his own grandfather, but thanks to that he lacks the delta brain wave and is therefore immune to the attacking Brain Spawn and can save the day
posted by robotdevil at 10:32 AM on March 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

M. Night Shyamalan’s movie Signs features a little kid who leaves glasses of water everywhere. Everyone finds it annoying, until the day when his habit saves them all.
posted by WaspEnterprises at 10:21 PM on March 30, 2020

Odd Thomas, movie or book.
posted by Gneisskate at 8:09 AM on March 31, 2020

« Older Recommendations for virtual games to play online...   |   What is this weird 'after-image' sensation that I... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.