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Very Special Episode

 Very Special Episode
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Very Special Episode
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Advertisement:propertag.cmd.push(function() { proper_display('tvtropes_mobile_ad_1'); })Tonight, on a very special article of TV Tropes ...
An episode, often in a sitcom, in which the lead confronts some highly emotional or forbidden issue from everyday life. Drug abuse, eating disorders, and worse... TEENAGERS HAVING SEX! At the end of the episode, the protagonist is Enlightened, and the guest character with the Very Special Problem is never seen or heard from again. Often there is an 800 number to call, should you (or someone you love) actually have the Very Special Problem. Another key criterion is that side-effect, complications, or failure-rates of the official government mandated Very Special Solution the episode promotes are never mentioned. If the problem involves children in some way (and it almost invariably will), then it may also be promoted as something that "No Parent Should Miss". These often come about when networks or writers are bucking for awards, or may be caused by Writer on Board.
Advertisement:propertag.cmd.push(function() { proper_display('tvtropes_mobile_ad_2'); })The tone will typically be much, much more serious than other installments of the series, although with sitcoms, there may still be a comedic subplot or occasional moments where the Laugh Track is needed. If Status Quo Is God is in effect, there is only a small chance of breaking with this practice, but that's the reason for the common tactic of introducing a new guest character who isn't protected by this consideration, and can therefore have anything bad or good happen to him without chaning the status quo.
Or, in other words: OOC Is Serious Business for television shows.
These episodes were far more common in the 1980s, fueled by then-United States president Ronald Reagan's crackdown on drug use in America. They've largely fallen out of favor since then for most shows due in part to the increasing number of shows, particularly dramas, where issues such as drug/alcohol abuse, violence, sex and death are dealt with on an almost weekly basis, and then you have the Dramedy genre that regularly mixes comedy with serious issues.
Advertisement:propertag.cmd.push(function() { proper_display('tvtropes_mobile_ad_3'); })There's a certain variety of shows where essentially every episode has a special message, such as Touched by an Angel, Joan of Arcadia, etc. However, it's not by any means a Dead Horse Trope yet due to Police Procedurals (i.e. Police Stop!, Police, Camera, Action!, Road Wars) and law enforcement dramas like Criminal Minds and Medium.
Medical dramas will also do these, but for ethical not medical issues.
It is also a very ripe target for parody; these days, parodies are probably as common as seeing this trope played straight. May also be vulnerable to Détournement.
Compare Public Service Announcement. Too Smart for Strangers (about the danger of child abduction) and Drugs Are Bad (about Just Saying No to them) are two specific kinds of Very Special Episodes that reached their zenith in the 1980s. Descent into Addiction is a special case of the latter trope, in which the episode is all about a character's gradual slide into addictive behaviour. See Compressed Vice for when a character is saddled with an issue for just long enough to illustrate the aesop, and Long-Lost Uncle Aesop for when a new character is introduced solely for this purpose and never seen again. An Author Tract is when the entire work is used as an excuse to preach about a particular real world issue. Green Aesop is when the story focuses on environmental issues, but these aren't as common. Can also double as a Prejudice Aesop.
See Christmas Episode, Christmas Special, Halloween Episode, Sick Episode, Prison Episode, April Fools' Plot and Toilet Training Plot for other specially-themed episodes.
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DBTropes
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Heroic BSoD
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It's even more a part of his character after The Rise of Arsenal, where Roy had a Heroic BSoD following the death of the daughter. Not only did he get back on heroin, he's alienated most of his friends and family, readopted the Arsenal identity and become a Card-Carrying Villain. Considering his remaining friends and family didn't provide much support following Lian's death and the loss of his right arm, it's not that surprising.
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Parodied
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Parodied and deconstructed in the fifth Don't Hug Me I'm Scared video. A gang of talking foods sing a common children's cartoon aesop about eating healthy. It soon becomes obvious they're very factually incorrect and spouting nonsense. Things such as how "plain foods" such as "bread, cream, white sauce, and aspic" are good for you while "fancy foods" like "cooked meats, fruit salad, soil foods, and yolk" are bad for you. The Anthropomorphic Food characters are also Faux Affably Evil and condescending towards Duck Guy and his friends.
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Holding Hands
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Rewind 2017 has a sequence in which all the characters have to deal with all the terrible things that happened that year. They pull through these tough times by Holding Hands.
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Broken Aesop
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Treads into awkward territory when his mentor, Green Arrow, punched him and threw him out of the house for being a filthy junkie. Though Green Arrow learned later in the story-line how wrong he was, he never apologized for his behavior. When Speedy tells him off for this, Green Arrow weeps silently... in pride for his ward becoming a man.
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Story Arc
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Once story arcs were used in lieu of the former "gag a day" storylines, many of the arcs had "very special" themes. The first came in 1988, when a teenager named Lisa became pregnant during her senior year of high school, and only nerdy Les was willing to support her (Lisa also being an outcast, although not to the same extent as Les). Many other serious themes were employed, with the most notable recurring during much of the 2000s when Lisa- by now, married to Les- developing (and ultimately dying from) breast cancer.
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Harsher in Hindsight
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The DLC has one mission about cyberattack targeting hospitals (similar to a certain cyberattack that attacks public sectors, including hospitals, occasionally and, incidentally, the DLC was released before the infamous May 2017 global-scale cyberattack), even the Dedsec announces urges taxpayers voice to prioritize update on the vulnerable hospital computers.
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Arranged Marriage
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At least in context, it isn't that Dorian's parents think being gay is wrong. It's that he won't play by the Imperium rules and agree to an Arranged Marriage Super Breeding Program. His parents would probably be fine if he engaged in extramarital homosexual relations so long as it's behind closed doors so long as he marries the proper girl and produces an heir first. Word of God is Dorian's parents hate each other and as a result only had one child which is why they can't turn to another kid to continue the family line. This gives credible in-universe justifications for their actions, but doesn't work as a Real Life allegory for parental homophobia as the basis for Dorian's fictional discrimination is vastly different to what people face in the real world.
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Justified Trope
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A very famous Very Special Episode dealt with the death of Mr. Harold Hooper, which was entirely justified as the man who played him had actually died. Not a shred of Narm this time, this Very Special Episode headed straight into Tear Jerker territory. A similar scenario, in which Elmo deals with the death of his uncle Jack, was produced in The New '10s.
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Parodied Trope
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Parodied in a Penny Arcade strip. Set within the Star Wars universe, the strip shows a discussion within a Rebel-sided family. It is implied that the teenage daughter was dating an Imperial junior officer, who later dies, and was impregnated with his child.
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Rule of Funny
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A lot of early story-lines had these (for example, Peter taking up chewing tobacco; Paige and Jason finding a used syringe at the beach; Paige and Nicole considering shoplifting). But after a while the strip focused almost exclusively on the Rule of Funny, although there were a couple of exceptions.
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Canada, Eh?
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Stopped a Canadian drug ring in a story by Todd McFarlane. Naturally, they just had to be smuggling their drugs in hockey pucks.
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 Very Special Episode / int_e545d293
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Narm
 Very Special Episode / int_e545d293
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Roy Harper, who would later be known as Arsenal and later still as Red Arrow, became a Very Special Character for much of his career due to that story-line. And while the original story was not especially Narmful, many of the later ones which mentioned his drug abuse were.
His drug abuse is still part of his character like when Speedy lectured Nightwing in a very holier-than-thou way in one comic, Nightwing sneered that he was getting advice from a heroin addict.
It's even more a part of his character after The Rise of Arsenal, where Roy had a Heroic BSoD following the death of the daughter. Not only did he get back on heroin, he's alienated most of his friends and family, readopted the Arsenal identity and become a Card-Carrying Villain. Considering his remaining friends and family didn't provide much support following Lian's death and the loss of his right arm, it's not that surprising.
Treads into awkward territory when his mentor, Green Arrow, punched him and threw him out of the house for being a filthy junkie. Though Green Arrow learned later in the story-line how wrong he was, he never apologized for his behavior. When Speedy tells him off for this, Green Arrow weeps silently... in pride for his ward becoming a man.
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 Very Special Episode
hasFeature
White Hair, Black Heart / int_6825287d
 Very Special Episode
hasFeature
Wife-Basher Basher / int_6825287d
 Very Special Episode
hasFeature
You Know I'm Black, Right? / int_6825287d
 Very Special Episode
hasFeature
Your Television Hates You / int_6825287d
 Joan of Arcadia
seeAlso
Very Special Episode
 MacGyver
seeAlso
Very Special Episode
 MonkTropesS-Z
seeAlso
Very Special Episode
 One Day at a Time
seeAlso
Very Special Episode
 HeartOfGaming
seeAlso
Very Special Episode
 Fred's Head
seeAlso
Very Special Episode
 SomeAnvilsNeedToBeDropped
seeAlso
Very Special Episode