“No, you clearly don’t know who you’re talking to, so let me clue you in. I am not in danger, Skyler. I am the danger! A guy opens his door and gets shot and you think that of me? No. I am the one who knocks!“
What a great moment from “Breaking Bad.” Maybe the single greatest spoken moment from the show. When Walter White’s self-proclamation of himself into an abstract noun, he joined a long list of TV characters who had the same thing. Different characters. Different types of abstractions. But still, basically, the same concept. And when it is done right, the transformation of individual character into the sphere of abstraction can become a monumentally dramatic moment. Just ask Skyler White.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
The Dominion are about to become the greatest threat the Federation has ever faced. The Dominion will make the Klingons look like a bunch of Van Dyke-sporting self-proclaimed evil paintballers. The Dominion makes the Borg look like a Swedish tennis player. The Dominion is the ultimate evil to any civilization that prizes even the barest bit of individuality. But just who are the Dominion? The Federation hasn’t quite gotten the full picture and that portrait is more than just a little murky when Major Kira thinks she is really onto something and inquires of a rather less than malevolent-appearing female shapeshifter “You are part of the Dominion, aren’t you?” To which this shapeshifter taking on the curvature of femininity replies, “Major, the Changelings are the Dominion.” It is a dramatic moment by itself, but in context of what will be taking place over the course of the rest of the series, it is a moment of noun abstracting that s right up there with Walter White saying he is the Danger.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
When Buffy at long last says “I am the law” it doesn’t have the thunderously dramatic impact that “I am the danger” or even “Major, the Changelings are the Dominion” has. The scene is not quite suitable for one of those duh-Duh-DUH crescendos on the soundtrack. Buffy isn’t really bragging or boasting or making a statement that she is to be respected and feared. She is stating a simple fact. The Slayer is the law. No getting around it. When the second Slayer Faith proclaimed “We are the law” in an episode from an earlier season, sure, it was not far removed from Walter White’s association with himself as the personification of danger. But when Buffy says it, there is a sadness to the quality. Not that the sadness removes it from consideration as one of the memorable moments when a TV character proclaims themselves to literally be an abstract noun.
Lucky viewers who got to watch “Aeon Flux” on MTV back before that woefully misnamed channel descended into the filth of Jersey-based idiots would get to hear a character proclaiming herself to be an abstract noun as the opening of every episode. Aeon Flux would would hear the mysterious Trevor accuse her of skating the edge in the narrative sequence that commenced every episode of this cool anime-show that was preceded all the hoopla of anime back when anime was still Japanimation in America. And our heroine’s response to this accusation? A very cool “I am the edge.”
That ice crown can make you go more than just a little loony in the strange land in which “Adventure Time” takes place. Just ask Finn who takes to wearing the ice crown with the result that he ends up taking a nine mile walk on an island that is miles of crazy long. “I am the end and beginning. I am the hand of madness.” I am especially drawn to this proclamation of being an abstract noun in part because it is less abstract than the others. I mean, Finn is suggesting very specifically that he is not the madness, but rather just the hand of madness. Which makes you wonder just what madness looks like and just how mad it would make you to be the hand.