If you’re unfamiliar with the Blue Screen of Death then you are a very lucky computer user…or a mac user. The Blue Screen of Death appears when your pc is crashing to inform you that basically you’re screwed. It’s Microsoft’s merry little way of saying, “You’re computer’s going away for awhile and you won’t be allowed to visit.” When people are shocked they can go into a sort of Blue Screen of Death (hereafter known as the BSOD). This trope is oftened used when the story is moving into the final act and it’s know as the Heroic BSOD.
The Heroic BSOD can be caused by a number of events and is used to show just how serious the situation is. “See, even our hero doesn’t know what to do; even he thinks we’re screwed.” The most common cause is the loss of a loved one, usually someone the hero was supposed to save or protect. The loss combined with the ultimate failure can send the hero over the edge. Being betrayed by someone the hero loved or trusted can also bring on this trope. The hero learning that he or she is not what they thought (Tomato in the Mirror) can induce this trope as well as some event, information, or villain that makes the hero believe the quest is hopeless (Despair Event Horizon).
The Heroic BSOD can take several forms ranging from a violent outburst to a catatonic state. In war movies the BSOD can be the same thing as shell shocked. Sometimes the hero just gives up altogether and heads home (10-Minute Retirement). It usually takes an even worse moment or crisis (or the appearance of a loved one) to shake the hero out of his/her BSOD and continue the quest.
In I Am Legend (spoiler alert!), Will Smith has his own BSOD after losing his only companion, his dog. He eventually descends into suicidal thoughts. Oddly enough, Peter in Dodgeball suffers one after Patches O’Houlihan is crushed by two tons of irony.
Cameron in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off suffers a major BSOD when he realizes he can’t hide the theft of the car from his dad. Ross on Friends has a mini BSOD when Rachel tells him she is pregnant. Leeloo shuts down after in The Fifth Element after learning just how violent the humans she was sent to rescue could be.
In the identity crisis category, Buzz Lightyear shuts down after discovering that he really is just a toy and not a SPACE RANGER. He even manages to get a little tipsy on Darjeeling tea. “I am Mrs. Nesbitt!” Luke Skywalker has a bit of a shut down after learning that Darth was his daddy.
The Doctor on Doctor Who has a couple of BSODs on The End of Time episode (both of them in a highly annoying emo fashion); once when the main villian is revealed and another after the villain taunts him about his companions.
What Heroic BSODs have you noticed? What form did it take? And what got the hero back on track?