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Okay, you know the trope about the war-hardened soldier who just wants to grow peas/smuggle/drink and get old and definitely doesn't want to go save the world, right? Think Han Solo, or even the Wizard in the new, not-great Oz movie. Or Madmartigan.

That's the trope. Where are the women? I can think of one example (kinda) in a Patricia C. Wrede book (Caught in Crystal, where the main character is sought out because she went on a pretty interesting trip when she was young that seems to have some ramifications in the present.). I'm actually pretty sure there are more, but I'm drawing a blank.

I also looked on TV Tropes, but I don't think I have the right name for the trope--and I'm definitely NOT talking about the Lovable Rogue or The Lancer, although those could be combined with this one.


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( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 30th, 2013 11:20 pm (UTC)
Zoe doesn't have quite the reluctance/irreverence I'm looking for, and she's also more of a sidekick character. Granted, two of my three are sidekicks, but they're also their own bosses within the universe (if not the narrative).
Apr. 30th, 2013 09:58 pm (UTC)
Retired Badass?

ETA: But you're right that female examples are really hard to think of. The TV Tropes page suggests Cordelia Vorkosigan, but I don't know ... she's not THAT retired. Need to think about this ...

Edited at 2013-04-30 09:59 pm (UTC)
Apr. 30th, 2013 11:24 pm (UTC)
Retired Badass! That's definitely one of the tropes I'm looking for, here*. Yesss... and yes, it seems female examples are not a dime a dozen. Le sigh.

*Han Solo and the Wizard are not good examples of this, but that's okay.
Apr. 30th, 2013 11:53 pm (UTC)
I can think of two possible examples, but both are from anime: Izumi in Fullmetal Alchemist and Genkai in Yuu Yuu Hakusho. Both are older women and martial arts badasses who are called out of retirement to train the main character. Izumi in particular sounds like what you're looking for: she was a heavy-duty badass who quit, got married, and is living a quiet life with her husband in a small town until the characters show up needing her help with world-saving.

I think pepper_field is probably right that it's got at least something to do with "women don't get old", combined with the need for female badassery to be so background-accepted that it doesn't have to be a plot point. In other words, a woman at the top of her field is something that has to be dealt with -- we have to see her rise, explain how she got there, and have her be at the middle of the action. Whereas this trope is more like ... assuming a background level of general female badassery and competence so that it's not unusual to see women at different points along the badass-to-retirement/failure curve.

And maybe there's also something, too, about how this trope tends to go along with an air of slovenly disreputability and moral grayness, and women don't often get to be that kind of character.

Actually, now that I'm thinking about it, that last one might explain a LOT of it.
May. 1st, 2013 09:49 pm (UTC)
That last one probably explains quite a bit of it, yes.

I think I started thinking about it more because I thought about how the argument is "You're uniquely qualified to do something here and now, and that means you should" for this trope... and how that still sounded a bit weird when applied to a woman. And it really shouldn't!
Apr. 30th, 2013 10:19 pm (UTC)
I... hmm...

I remember one in an Elizabeth Moon novel (after checking: Heris Serrano in Hunting Party), and you could say that Katniss Everdeen becomes this. I feel sure there should be more. I'm having difficulty coming up with any non-book ones aside from Zoe from Firefly, as mentioned above.

I think it's a victim of the 'women aren't allowed to be old' syndrome.

(ETA: Madmartigan!)

Edited at 2013-04-30 10:26 pm (UTC)
Apr. 30th, 2013 11:29 pm (UTC)
Yes, I think you're right--age is definitely a factor here. I don't quite know about Katniss. She's certainly reluctant, but... Hmm. I think this is one of those places where the first-person perspective intereferes with the trope. Is it weird that I think I'd know more about who Katniss is if it wasn't a first-person book?

I'll have to check into Hunting Party.

Apr. 30th, 2013 11:38 pm (UTC)
Is it weird that I think I'd know more about who Katniss is if it wasn't a first-person book?

I think that makes sense. We know who Katniss thinks she is, but we don't see her from an outsider's perspective so much. I think first-person is very biased (which is lots of fun to write, of course).

I have a notion that Elizabeth Moon has been an asshole on the internet at some point, but I did love Hunting Party, and the two sequels. It's all about the tough (usually) older women being friends and kicking ass.
May. 1st, 2013 12:19 am (UTC)
Katniss is one of the best examples of the Unreliable Narrator I've ever encountered.

I think she does make a quite adequate Retired Badass -- starting in her teens, true, but a key element of her character is that she had to do everything starting way too young, including get old and tired and jaded.
May. 1st, 2013 09:45 pm (UTC)
That's true. Actually, she pretty much starts out jaded.
May. 1st, 2013 04:46 am (UTC)
I second Heris Serrano in Hunting Party. I believe she's in her forties (which is prime of life in her universe). She maintains her badassery all the way through the 7-book series, but is pretty much the starting point for a whole chain of female badasses.

Later in the books, one sees her first 'protege' (an older woman) and another older woman as prisoners taking on a couple of armed guards with cleaning equipment.

The first three were more of a struggle for me, but overall the Serrano Legacy is pretty damned awesome.

Also: her aunt (whose name I can't remember) is an Admiral, a mother, and a grandmother, and although she's not shown in the midst of action badassery, there's certainly an element of authority badassery going on.

....sorry. This wasn't supposed to turn into a promo for the books. But I really enjoyed them.
May. 1st, 2013 04:48 am (UTC)
ETA: And I guess Heris Serrano doesn't fit the trope as the retired hero brought back into action, per se. She starts off as the main character though, and maintains that for three series before the story switches over to another couple of younger women who were her proteges.
May. 1st, 2013 09:46 pm (UTC)
Hey--advertisement for books with awesome female leads is always welcome!
Apr. 30th, 2013 11:41 pm (UTC)
The lead from Hunting Party doesn't entirely fit the trope, I think. She loses her command iirc, and ends up doing something else.

(Though, I think Moon and McCaffrey's Generation Warriors has some older ladies who snark, they're still employed)

hrm. The Helen Mirren character from Red?
May. 1st, 2013 09:45 pm (UTC)
I haven't seen Red, but I keep meaning to!
May. 4th, 2013 03:47 am (UTC)
This may not quite be right for what you're thinking, but the trope does sort of remind me of Beatrix Kiddo from the Kill Bill films. Not so much with the world saving as with the revenge seeking, but still. She wants out of the assassin business and to go on to live a normal life and, well, it doesn't work out as planned.
May. 22nd, 2013 02:29 am (UTC)
Re: Kinda/sorta
That's true. Actually, that suggestion comes closest on one dimension to what I want. It's apparently hard to match such a general, nebulous request--who knew! ;-)
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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