The Narrative Laws or Laws of Narrative as known to the PPC are conventions by which certain things must always happen in certain situations in works of narrative fiction. The Legal Department is in part tasked with making certain these laws are adhered to within the PPC, a fact which most agents are keenly aware of any time they try to get from one place to another, or when that one wheel goes rolling off to the side after a catastrophic wreck—even if a wheel had not previously been present. It is not surprising that the narrative laws most cited (and most cursed at) by PPC agents are the Narrative Laws of Irony and Comedy. So much so, in fact, that the two are often used synonymously. However, there is a distinction to be drawn between comic irony and other types of comedy, so this article will do so. Because it feels like it.
The Laws of Narrative Irony
A loose definition of irony is a sharp contrast between expectations and reality. Thus, the Laws of Narrative Irony may be defined as follows:
- a. the degree to which an agent desires to avoid an event is proportional to the likelihood of its occurrence
- and, conversely,
- b. the degree to which an agent desires an event to occur is proportional to its likelihood of not occurring.
For example, the console abides by these rules when it beeps just as an agent is ready to rest. These laws (in addition to a healthy heap of literal interpretation) are also responsible for why it's so hard to get around in Headquarters.
An example of the Laws of Narrative Irony in action occurs in the Original Series when a console goes off during Chapter 25, "Broken Doll," though it is cited as an instance of the Narrative Laws of Comedy taking effect.
These laws are said by many to be presided over by the Ironic Overpower.
The Laws of Narrative Comedy
These laws ensure that if a thing would be funny, it is far more likely to happen than any other outcome which would not be funny. For instance, the Rule of Funny states that in a work of comedy, anything is possible as long as it's good for a laugh. That means anything, including that one wheel rolling away from a crash, even if there were no wheels involved whatsoever.
The Laws of Narrative Comedy are partially responsible for the way agents are paired up. Two partners who get along famously and never argue would not be funny, therefore such a pairing is nigh-impossible. They also ensure that an agent who is up to anything questionable or embarrassing will usually be walked in on at the worst moment (see Murphy's Law), the cafeteria food will generally be terrible, and one sock will invariably go missing from the laundry.
Of course, Legal knows that if these laws are adhered to too strictly, the jokes will no longer be funny. This is where the Laws of Narrative Irony come in to save the day: where the "humorous" trope is expected, it may be avoided, thumbing its nose at expectations and hopefully producing a laugh anyway thanks to the effects of comedic irony.
The Laws of Narrative Drama
Since circumstances that would otherwise be dramatic are more often played for laughs in the PPC, these laws are often overlooked, but they do exist. They ensure that actions have consequences, even if they are silly, and cover things like Famous Last Words (played straight) and Chekov's Gun (or Ring, as the case may be). Thus, if an event in the PPC is not funny, it is probably advancing the plot or causing character development. But don't worry. Thanks to the other narrative laws, things will no doubt get silly again in short order.