Hi, there has been something bothering me about the series lately, the thing is in twintuition the twins say that hiccup is a logical thinker and over thinks things. Hiccup himself is all about responsibility when in the movies hiccup is spontaneous and careless always coming up with crazy ideas on the spot he has a witty personality. I feel the over thinking is more of fishlegs or astrids thing. Sorry that came out longer than expected.
No worries, friend! This commentary isn’t too long, but rather a good and succinct description of an interesting facet (or, perhaps, facets) of Hiccup’s personality.
Hiccup is an individual who does indeed demonstrate many instances of coming up with profound ideas in the moment. He’s always jumping and doing things right in the moment, sometimes carelessly, sometimes brilliantly. So there certainly is a unique sense of Hiccup thinking and acting on the fly. At the same time, I do think that the idea Hiccup is all about logic and careful thought is correct, too. Hiccup is a complicated character, and this multi-facetedness of his character can be seen in how he acts responsibly sometimes, acts impulsively sometimes, acts carelessly sometimes, acts spontaneously sometimes, or acts with a lot of prior thought sometimes. As with many humans, just because he’s one doesn’t mean he can’t be another.
Hiccup and Spontaneity
Hiccup is undeniably an individual who acts with spontaneity. One of my favorite descriptors for his character is “impulsive.” Hiccup is impulsive in his choices, decisions, and “plans.”
In the first movie, Gobber walks Hiccup back to the house after the dragon raid. The reason Stoick has Gobber walk Hiccup back is to “make sure he gets there.” However, the second after Gobber leaves, Hiccup suddenly charges out the back door and into the woods. It always came off as an impulsive behavior to me - probably because Hiccup stumbles out the door so quickly that he falls on his hands. Even if we don’t consider that choice impulsive, Hiccup’s decision to throw away his cheat sheet was impulsive and gutsy when he was riding Toothless. Hiccup’s choice to have Astrid ride Toothless certainly wasn’t planned - he made this action quickly in the moment. Hiccup’s choice to save Toothless and the tribe by getting his peers to ride on dragons was an idea that came right in the moment. Then, in the second movie, Hiccup flees from Stoick and goes to Itchy Armpit at the heat of the moment rather than attending the planned Dragon Racing event. Hiccup later decides to leave Berk last-minute when Stoick is grounding the dragons, deciding instead to pursue Eret. Much of Hiccup battling Drago on Berk was through heat-of-the-moment decisions, too.
We see this pattern of spontaneous decision-making all the clearer in the DreamWorks Dragons series. Hiccup will make a lot of spontaneous choices in the heat of the moment. Sometimes these impulsive choices lead to reckless and dangerous behavior; for instance, Hiccup deciding to fly to the Isle of Night alone with Toothless, not telling anyone or going with them as planned, results in him being kidnapped by the Outcasts in the episode We Are Family Part 1. Other times, these spontaneous choices are the ways in which Hiccup defeats the enemies last minute, such as by using spoons and other metal to attract the Smothering Smokebreaths and then, through these dragon swarms, scaring away the Berserkers.
It’s to note that, while Hiccup’s impulsive choices aren’t always reckless, they can be. They are often dangerous and might have a low chance of success. Hiccup jumping off a baby Scuttleclaw to save Toothless from falling in HTTYD 2 was certainly reckless. So this is an impulsive and reckless choice. At the same time, some of his choices aren’t impulsive but are still reckless: for instance, Hiccup jumping off a cliff side to test his Dragon Fly invention in The Next Big Sting was a carefully planned event, but still, in my opinion, reckless.
Anyways. Hiccup’s spontaneous choices can be placed into several categories. First, as I alluded above, there are the brilliant last-minute decisions he makes to save the day, and then there are the reckless decisions he makes. To be fair, we often don’t know whether it will brilliantly work out or if it will fail horribly. But the point is that some of these choices are brilliant maneuvers and others feel dangerously reckless. The other category of division we can make about his actions is that some of Hiccup’s choices are made in dangerous moments and others are not.
Hiccup will make choices emotionally and impulsively in some instances, such as by choosing to suddenly fly off Berk in HTTYD 2 before Stoick grounds all the dragons. This is not a dangerous circumstance right here and now. Another example of Hiccup making an impulsive choice in a non-dangerous circumstance is in the episode When Lightning Strikes. Hiccup chooses to mount the top of a ship to show that lightning is attracted to metal. His life wasn’t in danger at this point (at least until he made that bold decision to hold up metal on the top of a ship). So some choices are made impulsively out of emotion and not necessarily danger.
In contrast, sometimes Hiccup has to make a spur-of-the-moment decision because he has no choice otherwise. If he is in the middle of the battle, Hiccup doesn’t have the luxury of contemplating whether or not his latest battle strategy will work. He has to just go and try it on the fly because he’s in danger. For instance, Hiccup fighting the Skrill in the first half of A View to a Skrill shows him acting on the fly. Hiccup’s decisions in dangerous circumstances are very commonly spontaneous because, by nature of the sudden incident, they can’t be pre-planned. He never would have predicted the exact circumstances of being chased by these dragons!
So, since this was a large chunk of text let me recapitulate: yes, Hiccup is spontaneous. Sometimes his choices are impulsive because of emotional reasons. Sometimes his choices are impulsive and can turn out to be reckless. Sometimes his choices are on-the-fly because he’s in the middle of danger and he doesn’t have the luxury of thinking situations through thoroughly before enacting a plan. But in all these cases, we see that Hiccup is an individual that works with spontaneity.
Hiccup and Careful, Critical Thought
Near the start of Race to the Edge Season 4 Twintuition, Tuffnut says, “As usual, Hiccup and Fishlegs are overthinking everything.”
At the same time that Hiccup can be an individual who is very impulsive, I still don’t disagree with Tuffnut: Hiccup can be someone who is a careful thinker and close planner. There are times in which he thinks carefully - something that Tuffnut himself (not a planner) would classify as “overthinking.” Here are some instances in which we see Hiccup not acting spontaneously, but as someone with critical thought:
Whenever Hiccup develops an invention, the creation by nature has to be full of careful thought. His inventions do require testing and modification, yes, but they also necessitate careful planning. Hiccup’s crossbow shield contains clever mechanisms that would have needed drafting beforehand. And even in the first How to Train Your Dragon movie, we see that Hiccup draws blueprints of his inventions before he creates them. He draws up a plan for Toothless’ tail, works methodically on the saddle, and creates his own cheat sheet for how the saddle-tail mechanism works. An organized chart like that is logical, careful organization. Beyond that, Hiccup even has a whole room full of invention ideas and sketches - while we do see his corner of the workshop in the final film when Stoick visits him, we learn more about his various inventions and drafts in the deleted scene “Axe to Grind” when Astrid stumbles across his blueprints. Hiccup here, while inventing, is being a very logical and methodical thinker. This is not spontaneity.
Furthermore, there are many times that Hiccup encourages a thought-out course of action before entering danger. While Hiccup doesn’t always have the luxury of planning battle plans beforehand, when he does have the opportunity, he does outline plans for the gang. This has been done many times throughout the franchise, starting with the plan Hiccup implements to fight the Red Death in the first movie. Hiccup carefully plots how to attack Viggo’s base in Family on the Edge over a period of several days before he puts the plan into action (even making a model of the location in the planning process - careful work!). Hiccup meets with Viggo on the island at the start of Maces and Talons Part 1 with an obvious plan. The raid on Auction Island was not without prior thought. The truth is, there are many times in which Hiccup and his companions go into an enemy engagement with a plan already made: something that Hiccup carefully concocted beforehand. Tuffnut’s used to seeing Hiccup create logical game plans.
Hiccup even yells at Snotlout for going out of line and acting spontaneously at the start of Cast Out Part 1. Snotlout’s spontaneous actions place Astrid in danger, causing her to fall out of the sky and nearly die. Hiccup grounds Snotlout and forbids him from flying because Snotlout’s impulsivity is unpredictable and unreliable. Hiccup is disciplining someone for being too spontaneous! Hiccup wants order here. And then again, when Stoick leaves in Dawn of the Dragon Racers and puts Hiccup in charge, Hiccup doesn’t want the youths to invent a spontaneous new sport. He wants to keep order, follow his dear father’s instructions, and hold to tradition with the annual Regatta. All of this is Hiccup discouraging impulsivity in a leadership position.
It’s to note that even in day-to-day matters, Hiccup likes to have methodical orderliness. He is the one who is upset if the twins are not on guard duty on Dragon’s Edge. He is the one who suggests that they need to create order when they first arrive at their new island home. He is the one who is often the leadership organizing and putting into place all the daily rituals and duties that the youths do on Dragon’s Edge. He is the one who came up with specific flight formations for the youths to follow when they were in the Dragon Academy. He is the one who came up with all the training exercises and strict regiments and trivia games for Riders of Berk and Defenders of Berk. He is the one who leads the youths and expects them to obey his orders on the fly. Hiccup is not always spontaneous and careless. While there definitely are instances where he is spontaneous and careless, there are also just as many instances in which Hiccup is the opposite: careful and methodical.
One of your comments is that Hiccup is all about responsibility seemingly in the television series, but not in the movie trilogy. Because of this, I will leave this section with some demonstration of Hiccup caring about orderliness and responsibility in the movies and material directly created by Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders. Hiccup is consistent throughout the franchise (give or take the aging process - but all people metamorphose naturally as they mature) in terms of his beliefs of responsibility.
In The Serpent’s Heir, written by Dean DeBlois, Hiccup is chief and is trying to keep his chiefdom in order. He’s focusing on the responsibility of his leadership role. Earlier, in How to Train Your Dragon 2, even though Hiccup is running off spontaneously from Stoick sometimes, he also has with him a carefully formulated plan he systematically upholds. Hiccup’s plan is always to speak to Drago and try to arrange for diplomatic peace talks. The reason Hiccup wants this is not out of an impulsive reason (though it sometimes leads to impulsiveness). The reason Hiccup wants to talk to Drago is exactly because he believes it is responsible. When Stoick complains about Hiccup’s actions, his son balks, “I’m trying to protect our dragons and stop a war! How is that irresponsible?” The truth of the matter is that Hiccup, from the very start of How to Train Your Dragon 2, believes that trying to talk to Drago - his goal throughout the movie - is the responsible thing to do.
So Hiccup can be someone who cares about responsibility. Hiccup can be someone who loves to plan and organize. Hiccup can be someone who approaches a variety of situations with critical and careful thought.
Hiccup is, interestingly enough, both someone who can be spontaneous and impulsive, and someone who can be methodical and careful. These personality traits do not clash, but are complicated facets of his three-dimensional character. As we see in how Hiccup tries to talk to Drago in peace, he can use both spontaneous actions and careful thoughts about responsibility to try to achieve his goals.
Tuffnut and the Context of This Quote
Now the question is: does Hiccup’s consistent belief in responsibility and methodical approach to situations count as “overthinking”? After all, what Tuffnut says in that quote in Twintuition is that Hiccup is “as usual” overthinking. Overthinking is a little different from just thinking.
There can be times in which Hiccup overthinks throughout the franchise, but what is especially relevant is that Hiccup overthinks in Race to the Edge. Overthinking is part of Hiccup’s specific circumstance in the here and now. He’s doing it more than usual because he is interacting with Viggo - someone who is a crafty manipulator. Hiccup, trying to best Viggo, has had to carefully think through situations himself. This results in Hiccup worrying and overthinking through scenarios with Viggo. At this current time in Hiccup’s life, therefore, he is overthinking and overanalyzing scenarios far more than usual. It’s because he’s trying to do everything within his brainpower to stop his current antagonist.
So when Tuffnut remarks that Hiccup is “as usual” overthinking, I think that makes sense in the context of the situation. Since Hiccup and his friends have settled on Dragon’s Edge, Hiccup has been obsessively thinking about Viggo and trying to outmanipulate the man at his own game. As far as Tuffnut has seen, Hiccup recently has been consistently thinking and thinking and thinking and thinking. It doesn’t matter if twelve year old Hiccup overthought scenarios or not. It doesn’t matter if twenty-four year old Hiccup will overthink scenarios or not. But in the here and now, yes, Hiccup is pondering through scenarios exceedingly carefully. He’s still not successfully outmanipulating Viggo, true, but he is certainly pondering strategy closely.
On top of that, there’s an important thing to consider about Tuffnut’s quote: he’s criticizing both Hiccup and Fishlegs simultaneously. Hiccup and Fishlegs are, as usual, overthinking, according to him. This is a little different than Hiccup by himself overthinking. It’s the joint team that Tuffnut’s not thrilled with currently. And it is true that when Hiccup and Fishlegs are together, they tend to engage in deep, intricate scholarly pursuits. The two bring out the nerd in one another, and as is such, like to think critically together. So when Tuffnut talks about Hiccup overthinking, he’s talking specifically about Hiccup-when-he’s-with-Fishlegs overthinking.
The last thing I believe is relevant to consider contextually is that Tuffnut is not a thinker himself. Tuffnut is someone who is intelligent and capable of good thought, but his preferred lifestyle is one of going with the flow. He doesn’t like to plan ahead. He doesn’t like to adhere to schedules or regimental order. Tuffnut likes to casually mosey through life with no plans beforehand. This does contrast with Hiccup’s personality from the first HTTYD movie through the end of The Serpent’s Heir; Hiccup has always been more methodical and planning-oriented than the carefree Thorstons. So from Tuffnut’s angle as someone who doesn’t prefer to think things through at all, he’s going to categorize Hiccup’s careful analysis of situations (in this case in Twintuition, how to break a chain) as “overthinking.”
There is something to be said about how Fishlegs and Astrid think or overthink through scenarios in comparison to Hiccup, but I also don’t think that what Tuffnut says is erraneous with what we know about Hiccup and the present scenario! Hiccup is a complex character, and given the context of our current scenario, I think it makes sense that Tuffnut would make this criticism of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third.