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Tropes I Hate

Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, Oct. 2, 2021

So maybe the verb ‘hate’ is excessive, but there are some tropes that can really throw me off a story. Or perhaps, what throws me is the way they are used. I firmly believe that any trope can be part of a solid, enjoyable story, even the ones I hate. I just… rarely see them used that way, I guess.

This post, therefore, is in complete indulgence for me to have fun complaining at the end of a tough week. The tropes I'll list here may be tropes you like and that is perfectly okay. I bet plenty of people despise tropes I love. I just want to write out why they turn me away from a story, and feel free to do the same about tropes that have that effect on you in the comments!

Kids save the world, all adults are absent or nerfed or stupid

Exceptions that justify the rule: The Goonies, Avatar (ATLA)

This trope really gets to me. A team of preteens or outright children are called to deal with hugely dangerous adult-level problems, from magic monsters terrorizing a school to full blown alien invasions. Throughout the entire story they don't get and do not need supervision, support, mentoring, or any kind of adult presence. In fact, adults are always bumbling characters that either need saving or are part of the problem.

It's so deeply unrealistic that I can't easily suspend disbelief. Especially if the dialogue belongs more to adults than kids (i.e. the writers don't know how to write kids).

This trope is not the same as having kids needing to deal with hugely dangerous adult-level problems, but with a whole arsenal of support, mentoring, and even protection by adults, in a context where it can't really be helped. I like these stories.


No exceptions I can think of.

This trope I actually loathe, for two reasons: AMNESIA DOESN'T WORK THE WAY WRITERS WANT IT TO WORK. It grates on my nerves from a professional standpoint. Especially if the amnesia comes and goes with a whack to the head, like the skull is the on/off switch to memory.

From an author/audience standpoint, I hate it especially when it's used to pad the plot by ‘erasing’ all the progress done by a character for an arbitrary amount of time: the lover forgets his loved one and now has to fall in love all over again. The victim of a deception forgets the reveal and now has to discover it all over again or falls into really obvious traps because the amnesia has erased memories of previous encounters with the villain. It's like all the investment done up to then is put on hold for one last repeat of the same investment, and I hate it.

The plot armor

Exception to the rule: 80s Schwarzenegger action movies.

The hero is being shot at by an entire platoon but EVERYONE MISSES. The hero shoots one time and the bullet hits more people than the magic bullet in the JFK assassination. The hero never gets wounded and if they do, it's for aesthetic purposes only, and perhaps for the supporting characters to fawn over for a bit.

I don't know, I like my heroes to be vulnerable and I want to fear for them, that they may actually die or get seriously wounded if they're not careful. It adds to their gumption and capability.

So these three are my top three tropes that I really don't like (that I can think of right now), and the exceptions I listed is where I enjoy the stories/movies anyway even though they include them!

How about you? I'm curious to know.

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rmccool at 12:27PM, Oct. 6, 2021

Piranesi by susann Clarke does the amnesia thing well.. the story is a puzzle box.. becuse of the first person point of view and the amnesia creates a unreliable narrator..we only know what piranesi knows..

PaulEberhardt at 3:33AM, Oct. 5, 2021

I like bullet-proof heroes in a mayhem of unrestrained (and unreflected) A-team violence, though. This kind of scenario is all about the fireworks and any attempts at a meaningful plot would just get in the way. To my mind, it belongs firmly into the time-hallowed "tall tale" genre, which is all about going over the top and responding to any questioning looks by one-upping it even further. Imagine an aged version of the hero telling this to kids at the fireside, making things up as he goes along, and suddenly it all makes sense.

PaulEberhardt at 3:17AM, Oct. 5, 2021

I can see another pattern emerging in the tropes discussed here. The thing that makes them so bad is that they're trying to force a plot into going into a certain direction. Children saving the world are basically a deus x machina, because the purpose of this plot device is making the final victory come from where you wouldn't expect it (only you do, because it's so overused, meaning that it defies its own purpose). Amnesia is a convenient way to get rid of everything that would normally enable the protagonist to save the day without even looking up from their newspaper - needing to introduce something like that is a sure sign that the plot is badly constructed crud.

PaulEberhardt at 3:01AM, Oct. 5, 2021

I'm with bravo on this. Overused tropes can take the punch out of every story, no matter how good it is in all other respects, and usually they're not. I love bad for its own sake, too, but it can be overdone. A classic point in case would be Harry Harrison's "Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers", which is basically a competent author deliberately setting out to write the most awful SciFi romp ever, a pastiche of every trope of bad SciFi at the time it was written in. (I highly recommend it for educational purposes. It's entertaining, too, in a way, even if it's not really enjoyable.)

EssayBee at 7:57PM, Oct. 4, 2021

Amnesia usually bugs me too, although "Memento" is brilliant and plays with narrative structure to put the audience in the protagonist's shoes. A similar trope to amnesia that I hate is the "restart the relationship to play out the same romance" that happens in a lot of sequels. I'm talking about those combative, they-hate-each-other-but-then-come-to-love-each-other plotlines (which is a trope to itself), where love conquers all by the movies end. But then for the sequel it's a, well-things-just-didn't-work-out situation until they have to put up with each other again, only to replay the same they-hate-each-other-but-then-come-to-love-each-other plotline. "The Mummy Returns" was a welcome exception to this and actually showed that the relationship from the first movie grew between films (one of the reasons I love that movie).

bravo1102 at 2:45AM, Oct. 3, 2021

But then I look at it anyway because there's something inside me that loves awful for its own awfulness and want to see just how bad it can get. I may be a cynic but I love bad for its own sake.

bravo1102 at 2:42AM, Oct. 3, 2021

The point about every trope is that a whole bunch of authors use it and abuse it and it gets tired and awful whereas once upon a time it was new and fresh and a good idea. Or even some writer worth a bucket of warm spit can do a good job with it because they know how to write a story and don't suck like 90% of the other over hyped crap. I start reading anything thinking it's awful trope filled garbage and sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised when it isn't. I'm too genre savvy for my own good. I can spot clichés from a mile away and hope that the creator can pull it off and every once in a great while they can. But face it some just go on collect a bundle of junk, even promote their crap there and honestly expect you to think their crap is good? Really? Face it, you wrote crap and it's not even good crap that is halfway fun, but smart-ass garbage that is just plain annoying.

Corruption at 10:57PM, Oct. 2, 2021

One Trope I hate is how the good guys are always forgiven at the end, and how no-one looks at the damage they cause. For example, all the collateral damage from the super fights would kill a lot of people. The comic Grrl Power actually looks at it, and the main supers are trained to avoid it. Covered in pages 193 and 194 The comic Shell has the main character mostly protecting people from getting killed by these fights.

Kou the Mad at 10:10PM, Oct. 2, 2021

It's ironic, I grew up watching on Toonami and playing JRPGs (Suikoden 2 is best game.), but man are some of the tropes common in them annoying (And in some cases, they got worse over time.).

Kou the Mad at 10:07PM, Oct. 2, 2021

Tsunderes, Harems, Openings that spoil alot of things like Party Members in Games and Anime, etc.

Furwerk studio at 5:39PM, Oct. 2, 2021

@usedbooks one of the reasons I dropped Jollyjack's Sequential Art is the stupid "well maybe they will get together *this* time" between Art and Kat, and to be honest I found Art/Scarlet to be a better pairing. I would like to add "Subversion for subversion sake", A.K.A pulling the chair away from the audience. Again, why I stopped reading that comic.

usedbooks at 4:31PM, Oct. 2, 2021

@cdmalcolm: This is true. Or, worse, they get together and then break up for some stupid thing (like in Wings) and then hate each other awhile so the audience goes through the whole hoping they get together again BS. Or they kill off one of the couple very soon after (like in DS9). All in the name of keeping the series at status quo. One exception is Get Smart where 99 and Max get married in Season 2 and then have the twins in Season 5 (I think). But it stays fine because it's a spy comedy not a romance drama and there was never actually any will they won't they nonsense. XD I enjoy franchises that let relationships develop (like The Mummy movies and the Uncharted games).

usedbooks at 3:01PM, Oct. 2, 2021

I also am a fan of "kids save the world." Or any unconventional hero -- if well written. (Tropes exist because each one is someone's cup of tea. Lol) But not "chosen one" stories, especially "chosen" children. Those are awful. The only exception to my dislike of "chosen ones" is Elora in Willow.

cdmalcolm1 at 2:52PM, Oct. 2, 2021

Oh, the one thing that is used a lot in romance tropes in a series, is the two people who you want to see get together and either never do or waaaaaaayyyyy later in the series gets together. And here’s the kicker. As soon as the two get together, this happens…. The series we are watching, TO ME, jumps the shark. The series just gets terrible for some reason or another. The writing is way off from the original series plot type. Tell me if I'm wrong or way off.

cdmalcolm1 at 2:37PM, Oct. 2, 2021

I’m using an amnesia trope, but not from a bump on the head. More like a god removed it for the sack of protecting life. My character never recovers from it and gets small hints about her pass with events of how her powers are being used. So, she has to learn a lot of things again, including controlling her powers. The only trope I really don’t like is children being way better than adults and even their parents. I don’t get it. I guess for like kids watching they are able to relate. Old Kung fu movies are the opposite of the kid tropes. Kung fu movie show old masters are super powerful comparing to everybody else. So, are tropes being used for relative sake of the type of audience watching? It is used over and over. Even us writers will fall into writing one or more in a story. But here is the real question. Is art styles in comics or animation like a trope?

Furwerk studio at 2:16PM, Oct. 2, 2021

I love kids save the world stuff. To be honest I find it hard for me to deal with fiction of "older adults are the bestest at everything evar", and to be honest I had seen it kind of growing too out of hand. I cannot stand, as in I hate, hate, HATE the "reality ensures" crap. NO, shooting the magical girl as they transform is a good idea, all you've done is pissed off somebody who takes the equivalent of a rocket propelled grenade to the face on a daily basis, that's if there is any time in the transformation and that spinning, shining glitter stuff is just tv stuff and the actual transformation is a blink of the eye. Often I find those kind of cliches are written by people who never watched/read what they are "deconstructing" and only have third hand pop culture osmosis to work off of.

Ozoneocean at 6:14AM, Oct. 2, 2021

Agreed on all of these. Of course all of them work when the writers take time to jusitufy them! Unfortnately this rarely happens. Kids have to save the world: because something happens to the adults, or the adults are in on the evil plan, or there ARE no adults because of a bad thing or the kids are on their own.

giovanni at 4:46AM, Oct. 2, 2021

"Kids save the world, all adults are absent or nerfed or stupid" i know of one setting where it is particularly infuriating. well, its not "save the world" at all but its all about "adults are useless" : the novel "A Series of Unfortunate Events"

usedbooks at 3:48AM, Oct. 2, 2021

Most tropes I hate are romance tropes. I don't think I hate romance. I just hate every iteration of it that currently exists in media. The people who annoy each other falling in love is the WORST. No exceptions.

bravo1102 at 1:58AM, Oct. 2, 2021

For plot armor Hot Shots!: part deux does a great parody of it. Lupin III explains it quite simply: no one is aiming. Also when you fire automatic weapons only the first few rounds are on target: the killing burst. The rest is suppression fire and all over the place. Professionals use small 3-5 round bursts, not long magazine emptying streams like in nearly all movies and TV shows. So of course no one hits anything. There is one low budget film that actually points it out, can't remember the title. The bad guys shot all over the place, the hero makes a point of teaching folks how to shoot short killing bursts. So when the gun battle comes the baddies are shooting up the place and the good guys one shot, or short burst and baddies go down. Any way you cut it Stormtroopers syndrome is inexcusable.

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