Irony is a powerful tool for a storyteller. The juxtaposition of two unexpected things can create whole stories.
Carrie: An awkward teenage girl with a crazy evangelical mother gets bullied at school but she has the power of telekinesis and gets back at her tormentors using that power.
Irony can create a fascinating character. There are a number of Joe Abercrombie’s character built on a single ironic characteristic that creates a number of internal conflicts.
Caul Shivers: A massive northman who is exceptionally gifted in all the skills you need to be a thug, warrior and murderer. In the beginning of Best Served Cold, Caul is desperately trying to quit that life and be a good man. That doesn’t go so well for him. He reluctantly finds himself right back in the world he doesn’t want to be a part of.
Bremer dan Gorst: The Union’s greatest swordsman! Multitime winner of The Contest an annual fencing tournament attended by all the most powerful and posh members of society. Hero of numerous battle! Huge powerful man! Itty bitty squeaky voice and terrible social skills.
Sand dan Glotka: Once a dashing war hero and winner of The Contest but was captured and tortured for years in the prison of Ghurkish emperor. Now back home in the Union and physically broken, he has become a most effective torturer himself.
Just a single ironic twist to a character can create both external and internal conflict for your characters. It doesn’t take much. If you overdo it, then the character can become cartoonish which makes it difficult for the audience to identify with the character.