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Thread: Tropes you hate and why

  1. #1
    banned as an incurable tosspot
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    Tropes you hate and why

    We all know tropes. Those writing tricks and devices that can pop up in all genres if writing. Some are great but some are stale as he'll or just plain i lazy. What are the ones you hate and why?
    Here are mine-
    The evil foreigner. I.e. the heroes of my story will be whatevercountry the writer is from but the villain will be from another even if it makes no sense.
    Case in point-the lion king. Mufasa and all the good lions are American accented, but scar who's scars brother somehow had an English accent?
    Same can be seen somewhat in How to teain your Dragon where all the adult Vikings sound Scottish but the teenage Dragon riders sound American? I hate it cause its insulting to my intelligence.

    Hero immunity -villain has a power to destroy hero, it kills all exposed to it but when it is used on the hero I question it doesn't work cause he's immune for some reason. For example i read a story in Suicide Squad when a villain had a medusa like power where if he takes off his mask and u see his face you are scared to death by the void it exposes. He tries it to harley quinn she looks in , it has no effect and then hits him with a hammer. He explanation is if uve seen one void you seen em all. So basically the writer didnt bother thinking of a creative way to overcome the problem and it came off as lazy
    Last edited by creativemechanic; 04-27-2017 at 05:31 AM.

  2. #2
    Moderator AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    I have so many, so I'll just go with a few favorites.


    • The manly hero continues to fight or run regardless of the nature of his injuries. He cannot lose too much blood, go into shock, or find his broken bones will not support him. It simply cannot happen, otherwise he would not be manly!
    • The serious female scientist pulls one pin from her hair and it tumbles into a glossy, stylish cascade as she removes her glasses, then her lab coat. She's smokin' hot--and nobody knew.
    • The gay man is weak, helpless, and somewhat effeminate. He does not fight or run, merely trills his anguish while his boyfriend is beaten to a pulp.
    • Nobody seems to notice a car with two men, or a plumber's or florist's panel van, parked opposite their house day after day. This includes criminals and spies, who have reason to be cognizant of what's happening near their hideout.
    • In New York, Chicago, London, Boston, Paris, etc., there is street parking directly in front of the character's building. And s/he doesn't even have to parallel park, just pulls in. (Maybe a panel van just left?)
    • If an action hero has a mother, she's comedic relief and has no life of her own, nor any right to phone her son.
    • Virtually all the females in the main character's world--romantic interest, friends, family members, work colleagues, people at the bar or restaurant he frequents--are at or below a healthy weight. In fact, they're all pretty good with wardrobe and grooming, too. Corollary: in teens on screen, there is no acne.


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  3. #3
    Last of a Dying Breed popmuze's Avatar
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    How about those impossible car chases where it goes on forever without an accident. And then the original driver is never responsible for the fifteen wrecks he leaves in his wake.

  4. #4
    deceives Tocotin's Avatar
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    I also have many, but the following four take the cake:

    1. Losing consciousness (unless the plot absolutely requires it).
    2. Dead parents (unless the plot absolutely requires it).
    3. Prolonged illness, complete with loss of appetite (until the plot ABSOLUTELY requires it).
    4. Beauty equals goodness (no excuse).
    Tokyo 1886-1888

  5. #5
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I think my most hated ones are when the main character is described for the first time by looking at themselves in a mirror and when the main character gets amnesia or wakes up from a dream at the end. That said, I can still think of examples of where these tropes are done well.

  6. #6
    practical experience, FTW lianna williamson's Avatar
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    The "I'm not like other girls (and therefore I am better than them)" trope. All the female characters in the book are shallow and have pointless priorities, usually involving fashion and romantic interest in the male characters-- all except the main character, who's ABOVE all that. She's not like other girls. She wears jeans! She does martial arts! She wants to go to college and have a career in law enforcement!

    a) Many, many girl wear jeans, do martial arts, and have career ambitions in male-dominated fields. If you are a girl who does these things, you are like other girls.
    b) Girls who do none of the above are not inferior to girls who do, and implying that they are is misogynistic BS.
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  7. #7
    Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred Chris P's Avatar
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    I'm getting tired of reading a great opening then having to read the next 30 to 50% of the book of backstory starting with the character's birth and everything that's ever happened just to get back to the opening scene. I don't think that's a trope so much as a story arc or somesuch.

    It's been a while since I posted this, but I always get a chuckle from Strange Horizon's list of "Stories we've seen too often."
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  8. #8
    ....... Harlequin's Avatar
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    "sassy" independent women who are in fact just angry and bitchy, or borderline insane.

    It is, contrary to such tropes, possible to be independent or even sarcastic without coming across as a thieving psychopath (thieving because they're often thief characters, in fantasy).
    "Though one evil spirit may drive a woman out of Eden, all the devils in hell cannot drive Heaven out of a woman."

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  9. #9
    I aim to misbehave Myrealana's Avatar
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    What I hate most of all is villainous master plans that only work when the good guys make very specific mistakes.

    It's like "Sure, I'll allow them to capture me, because, of course, instead of doing the sensible thing and putting me in a high security cell with 24x7 surveillance, they're going to leave me tied to a chair in the middle of a large room with no cameras and THEN I execute my master plan!"
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  10. #10
    Cultured vulture Albedo's Avatar
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    Humanoid aliens (especially with boobs). And by extension, alien wildlife that is basically Earth wildlife except purple. Just don't get me started.
    Alex

  11. #11
    practical experience, FTW autumnleaf's Avatar
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    Heroine who is supposed to be liberated and independent, but doesn't do anything active to show this, just complains a lot.

    Heroine who is considered "ugly" by her (historical or pseudo-historical fantasy) society because of things that make her conventionally beautiful by modern eyes (being thin, tall, tanned, etc.)

    Incest thrown in for shock value (not that it can't be part of a plot, but too often it just looks like the author though "ooh, what taboo can I break today?")
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  12. #12
    Beastly Fido Roxxsmom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Albedo View Post
    Humanoid aliens (especially with boobs). And by extension, alien wildlife that is basically Earth wildlife except purple. Just don't get me started.
    Especially those "reptilods" and "insectoids" that have boobs.

    And of course the corollary is that anything without boobs, be it alien or robot, defaults to being male (and in fact, most robots and aliens are male, as are typical humans in most SF settings).

    The latter irritates me even more than humanoid aliens (I can suspend disbelief there if I squint and take the story as a space opera or assume there's an undiscovered, unmentioned link between life on Earth and other nearby star systems, but why oh why must the future have such a biased sex ratio with the only female beings existing as plot devices).
    Last edited by Roxxsmom; 04-27-2017 at 08:43 PM.
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  13. #13
    Come on you stranger, you legend, Devil Ledbetter's Avatar
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    Main character is dragged out of his retirement from a life of crime for "one last heist." I hate it because it's tired, and the "stakes" are his peaceful retirement from crime.

    Main character quits (or is fired from) his police job and can pursue the antagonist outside the law. I hate it because it's tired, tired, tired.

    Longwinded, smug 11th hour confession by antagonist gives hero just enough time to escape or be rescued. I hate it because it's entirely unrealistic and completely predictable. The second the baddie starts flapping his jaw I know the hero is either going to escape or be rescued. YAWN.

    Character successfully ducks out of the way after hearing gunshots. I hate it because it's entirely unrealistic if you have a 2nd-grade grasp of the speed of sound.

    Badass female character running in high heels. I hate it because OMG fuck off with that. Please. If your bad ass character had half a brain she wouldn't have worn heels in the first place, or she'd have ditched them the second things got hairy.

    Bitchiness as a stand-in for "strong female character." Just, NO.

    Shitty "foreshadowing" that consists of any character saying/thinking something along the lines of "I have a really bad feeling about this." This is so ham-handed. Subtlety is a skill. Work on it.

    Pointless, non-plotworthy "cute" bickering between love interests. Because Ugh.

    Plots driven by a simple misunderstanding that would have been cleared up easily if the characters ever stopped momentarily to question themselves or each other. TSTL

    ETA 1. Any fucking zombies ever. So overdone. Worse than the 1980s curly perm.

    ETA 2. Another one: Characters who sigh and sigh and sigh. Because people who sigh all the time are tiresome, and there is nothing more pathetic than characters that sigh instead of acting on their ennui, victimhood or put-upon-ness.
    Last edited by Devil Ledbetter; 04-27-2017 at 08:53 PM. Reason: Forgot to include "why."

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  14. #14
    banned as an incurable tosspot
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    The hero and love interest meet and have sex in the first time they are each other. Then start a relationship after. It's not done like that. Doing it court's disaster.

    The loud and proud fay comic relief. He's rude and reminds u one per episode of his orientation. Any rudeness is seen as funny. My issue is this. Had it been a straight character He'd be seen as the jerk

  15. #15
    Custom User Title S. Eli's Avatar
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    I have so many and I read widely so they're all over the place. 1: Slavery in SFF/Fantasy because I've never seen it done significantly, 2: "You will wish to have sex with me" speeches in any romantic sense, 3: As stated before, "I'm not like other girls," but I find it particularly grating in a contemporary, 4: Gross out/dick humor in any book where it's the only shtick, 5: Everyone is white and straight, this has plagued me since childhood. I decided in like elementary school to only watch things with POC/LGBTQ+ and lemme tell you, it wasn't difficult but there are a lot of things I haven't seen that freak people out. 6: When someone dies just because they were supposed to. Don't get me wrong, I am a HUGE fan of character deaths (my favorite trope is when everyone dies somewhere in the middle of the story), but I hate when it's near the end and I know this character died because someone was supposed to, not because it made the story better. Like if a MC has 2 best friends, the author will ALWAYS kill of the best friend that's not the BEST best friend. UGH it makes me mad just thinking about it because it's so predictable for me. I can guess who you're going to kill. In finales I always say, "If someone's gonna die, it'll either be this character or this character. This one if the author's brave."

    I ranted about that but it really bothers me.
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  16. #16
    figuring it all out Staugaard's Avatar
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    Someone else mentioned this, but when the MC's mom or dad is dead.

  17. #17
    blue eyed floozy shakeysix's Avatar
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    The gloating, blowhard villain who drones on and on about his motives or his childhood or his crackpot ranting rationalization for wanting world domination, instead of simply pulling the trigger, lighting the dynamite fuse, pushing the bleeping red button! Just shut the F up and do what you have been drawn to do! You are wasting my time! --s6
    Last edited by shakeysix; 04-27-2017 at 09:53 PM.

  18. #18
    practical experience, FTW lianna williamson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Devil Ledbetter View Post
    Plots driven by a simple misunderstanding that would have been cleared up easily if the characters ever stopped momentarily to question themselves or each other.
    One of my favorite quotes on this subject is: "The conflict in your novel should not be something two four-year-olds could clear up over the phone."
    blogging the novel

  19. #19
    practical experience, FTW
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    the "overhearing a conversation and then spending the rest of the episode/book/whatever thinking one thing about it, when it was something really innocent or lame" Three's company did that a lot!

  20. #20
    Come on you stranger, you legend, Devil Ledbetter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Staugaard View Post
    Someone else mentioned this, but when the MC's mom or dad is dead.
    I agree that this is overdone, but in stories involving young people it circumvents the issue of "well, where in the heck are her parents while all this is going on?" Unless it fits the story to have parents who are hapless, in prison, alienated from the MC or just couldn't care less, having them dead can make a lot of sense. Because a good or capable parent would help the MC out of her bad situation, which isn't likely to make a great story.

    Quote Originally Posted by lianna williamson View Post
    One of my favorite quotes on this subject is: "The conflict in your novel should not be something two four-year-olds could clear up over the phone."
    That is perfection.

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  21. #21
    banned as an incurable tosspot
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    Badass female character running in high heels. I hate it because OMG fuck off with that. Please. If your bad ass character had half a brain she wouldn't have worn heels in the first place, or she'd have ditched them the second things got ha


    Eg Jurassic World where the woman outran the trex.... which nearly caught a jeep... while she was in heels.....

    Plots driven by a simple misunderstanding that would have been cleared up easily if the characters ever stopped momentarily to question themselves or each other. TSTL - like how heroes meet and for no reason fight. even if they know the others are heroes. I saw this in an xmen comic, two long seperated teams met and broke out in a fight, even though the live and work with ach other quite well

    ETA 1. Any fucking zombies ever. So overdone. Worse than the 1980s curly perm. - I dont get why zombies are so ht... theyre the stupidest type of monster ever.... why a slow lumbering decaying corpse can destroy the wold is beyond me...

  22. #22
    ever seeking GeorgeK's Avatar
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    It's Ok, the bullet went all the way through your side so now all you need is an arm sling


    And why is there always a woman breaking her ankle?

  23. #23
    Last of a Dying Breed popmuze's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris P View Post
    It's been a while since I posted this, but I always get a chuckle from Strange Horizon's list of "Stories we've seen too often."
    Two of my last three novels are on the list.

  24. #24
    Get back to writing. NOW. Pterofan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeK View Post
    And why is there always a woman breaking her ankle?
    Maybe she was running in heels?

  25. #25
    Come on you stranger, you legend, Devil Ledbetter's Avatar
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    Badass female character running in high heels. I hate it because OMG fuck off with that. Please. If your bad ass character had half a brain she wouldn't have worn heels in the first place, or she'd have ditched them the second things got hairy.
    Quote Originally Posted by creativemechanic View Post
    Eg Jurassic World where the woman outran the trex.... which nearly caught a jeep... while she was in heels.....
    That one was particularly grating. I also hated the trope of the "cold, bitchy childless woman" and that after all of her badassery in heels outrunning a t-rex in the mud, she still has to be rescued, and at the end she's all soft-eyed, soft-focused and ga-ga over the swaggering he-man as she shivers wrapped in a blankie, clutching a hot drink in the park refugee center or whatever that was. Gross!
    Last edited by Devil Ledbetter; 04-28-2017 at 03:35 AM.

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