Forum > General discussion > What are your least favorite tropes in stories?
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"What are your least favorite tropes in stories?", 3 days ago, 5:31 AM #1
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This goes for comics, movies, skits/shorts, generally stories of any kind. What tropes do you all despise, whether it be due to over-saturation or second-hand embarrassment?

Personally, I hate the trope that seems to be in every other movie where two main characters get into some big fight before the last half hour or so. Odds are it's probably in an animated/kids' movie, so everyone knows you're going to get back together. Stop padding time with drama :(
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3 days ago, 6:06 AM #2
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The Chosen One.

I feel like the moment this gets introduced, the story is basically over and everything else is just filler. If someone is a Chosen One, they usually come with a prophecy about what they're supposed to do. And like that, the ending is that much closer to be spoiled, rather than foreshadowed. The Chosen One isn't necessarily even the most worthy to do whatever needs done- fate just picked this guy because he's related to someone important, cursed, or whatever else. It tells too much and gives too little for what it is.

I think the idea of the Chosen One can be done fairly, if subversion is used. Consider a knight who is destined to 'stop the killing of humans in Dumar Village from suffering at the claws of a dragon'. Normally, this could mean he just slays the dragon and saves the day. But what if the trope was subverted and instead the knight gains the aid of a magic scroll to turn everyone in Dumar Village into goats. Then by definition, he fulfilled his prophecy. There's no humans to kill anymore, hence he stopped them from dying to the dragon. And no one makes savior prophecies for goats.

Another subversion would be the prophecy is flat out wrong. The Chosen One doesn't survive to succeed and in fact, had little influence on the end result of things. This could be done either comically or to really pull the carpet out from under the reader's expectations if they followed the Chosen One's story long enough.

But as itself and done traditionally, I have no taste whatsoever for The Chosen One.

He was destined to succeed, no matter what. But in the end, all he did was lock the story into a linear predictable conclusion.
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3 days ago, 6:14 AM #3
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Oddball small town girl / boy from Podunkville, Nowhereland leaves their folksy shucksy family and friends behind to go to the big city, where everyone is phony, weird, and predatory. S/he learns about the simple goodness that money can't buy and brings their big rich citified significant other back with them to experience the true meaning of life.

There don't seem to be many stories that are more realistic, in my opinion- where the small-town oddball protagonist goes to the big city and realizes that their birthplace was rigid, unyielding, closed-minded, and offered them limited opportunities- and now they can find like-minded friends, open-minded acceptance, world-expanding fun and activities in the big city.
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3 days ago, 6:45 AM #4
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The Sci-fi story 'All Humans are vibrant, quirky individual creatures, but all (insert alien race here) look/talk/dress/act alike' trope. There's something... unseemly about what that entails.

The 'bisexuals are all deranged psycho, oversexed sociopathic serial killers' trope is ALMOST as played out and insulting as the 'all so-called "nerds" are academically brilliant, yet socially awkward unwashed virgins with no sense of fashion who have braying laughs, asthsma and 17 different allergies.' thing.

Matter-of-fact, let's just make it ALL stereotypes used in lieu of giving characters actual depth and personalities. They're just dumb.
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3 days ago, 7:02 AM #5
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*quietly hides my sci-fi comic about a quirky bisexual serial killer from Podunkville, Nowhereland who moves to the big city after finding out they're the Chosen One and falls in love with a big rich citified virgin nerd alien (as was prophesied) at the end but only after getting in a big fight with them* 0///0; Y-yeah, I'm with you guys!
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3 days ago, 7:12 AM #6
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Firefly Jelly:Oddball small town girl / boy from Podunkville, Nowhereland leaves their folksy shucksy family and friends behind to go to the big city, where everyone is phony, weird, and predatory. S/he learns about the simple goodness that money can't buy and brings their big rich citified significant other back with them to experience the true meaning of life.


YEAH. YUH HUH. SECONDING THIS. Listen, I don't mind stories that are like, hey, this big city person moved to this small town for some peace of mind. I love Stardew Valley and shit. Uh, as a person who grew up in a tiny ass Podunkville, Nowhereland tier city in the middle of farmland hell, Michigan AND is queer? The trope you just described makes me lose my mind. Often times, small towns are very idealized in media (going back to Stardew Valley, uh, pretty sure if there was a town like this irl they would be calling the queers slurs at their wedding) and there's honestly a hell of a lot of issues that I do not get very happy about when they gloss over them.

I don't have an issue with small towns being depicted as cozier than big cities or whatever, but man are there lines.

Anyways um my actual trope I hate is body swaps. I just cannot with this trope I get so much secondhand embarrassment. Like there's no logical reason for it to bother me so much but I'm very much so a "if you give me too much secondhand embarrassment my brain stops working" and essentially the entire point of bodyswaps is embarrassing the characters. No thanks. I still haven't watched the episode of Danny Phantom with Amorpho and that's because this trope makes me lose my mind.
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3 days ago, 7:31 AM #7
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That thing where a character tells a bunch of lies to trick people but then the lies turn out to coincidentally be true...what the hell is with that.

I mean things like the gruffalo, where the mouse makes up a monster but then that exact monster happens to exist. I mean that one is ok, but that trope happens in other media and it annoys me. I suppose the moral is that liars get their comeuppance...but that doesn't fly because there's obviously no way that bizarre contrivance could happen.
Anyways um my actual trope I hate is body swaps. I just cannot with this trope I get so much secondhand embarrassment. 


You've got to make an exception for Your Name.
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3 days ago, 9:38 AM #8
KAM

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Prophecies/The Chosen One type tropes.

Last century I read this sword and sorcery story where throughout the story the wizard/mentor kept telling the hero he was the chosen one who would defeat the villain and after a series of unmemorable adventures... the hero defeated the villain.

God, that was dull. It was the literary equivalent of walking on a treadmill. Why did the author waste her time writing it? She kept giving away the ending all through the book. I was expecting a twist of some kind, but no.

While not all Prophecy/Chosen One stories reach that level of banality, it is a plot that will make me groan when it comes up.

Come to think of it... my comic has a number of Norse gods in it, and years ago I revealed that in The KAMics universe Ragnarok already happened and it was nothing like it was supposed to be. I wonder if subconsciously I did that because of how much I hated that awful sword & sorcery story. Hmmm...
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3 days ago, 10:17 AM #9
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^I can't bring myself to dislike Chosen One/Prophecies even though it's always at the top of the list whenever I see this question asked lmao (although the story you described sounds terrible) but you reminded me that I kinda... hate the wizard/mentor trope lol... Like I like Gandalf and stuff but it's just such a specific trope that people replicate like, exactly, all the time ?? It's always an old wizard mentor guy? (Or just an old mentor guy in general) It feels rife for subversion but I can't think of any fun examples off the top of my head (unless Doc Brown counts?) edit: WAIT EDA THE OWL LADY
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3 days ago, 12:56 PM #10
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The one I hate the most is that former villain is forgiven just like that and everything bad they did is forgotten.

Redemption takes time, work and some damage cannot be undone. And staying good is a struggle which means realistically, there are going to be relapses. And as much as I do believe that anyone can go good, they have to want to and only going good as a means to an end is not really going on the straight and narrow. That opportunism. And some people will just never forgive or like the former villain because sometimes the pain they caused was just to traumatizing. I would like to see redemption done right.
3 days ago, 1:32 PM #11
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The Omnidisciplinary Scientist.

I'm not saying that even my own work is completely free of this trope (which is often born just out of plot convenience), but I rather prefer to avoid or at least restrict it, since in any modern day setting it's just unrealistic.
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3 days ago, 1:32 PM #12
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Idk if there's a trope name for it but you know that one type of specific stupid that Jrpg protagonists tend to be? Gregarious, ambitious, snappy/why do you have a one liner for everything?, (sometimes painfully good and/or edgy, pick one) and DUMB? Those. They grate on me. I'm looking at you, Lloyd Irving of Tales of Symphonia, Yuri Lowell from Vesperia, Yusuke Urameshi from Yu Yu Hakusho, Inuyasha(as much as I love him I want him to fall on his face which he do a lot so there's that). Anyway. Something shonen protagonist archetype. I want to punt them.

There are ways to make them less annoying but I kinda tune out as soon as I detect them. Or I can't wait to see them smash into a wall. It's one of the two options.
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3 days ago, 1:36 PM #13
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This is a very broad thing and idk if you could even call it a trope, but when there’s a misunderstanding! Oh no! And the whole plot is that these two characters are at odds when if they just fucking communicated for two seconds then the issue could be resolved! This usually happens in tv shows, like sitcoms or kids shows, but it still annoys me.

There are probably more but I can’t think of them off the top of my head.
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3 days ago, 2:12 PM #14
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Chernobog:I think the idea of the Chosen One can be done fairly, if subversion is used.


There's a wonderful little comic on here called The Whatever Chronicles that gets every bit of mileage it can out of deconstructing the Chosen One trope.

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I hate the "strong female character" as portrayed by modern Hollywood for a few reasons. First, it confuses physical strength with strength of character. Belle from Beauty and the Beast is a strong character because of her principles, not because she's a badass swordfighter. 2017 Wonder Woman is a strong character because she steps out into the line of fire to do what's right, not because she can punch out a tank.

Second, modern depictions of strong female characters are afraid to give their heroines character flaws or character arcs. I don't know if they're afraid of being seen as sexist or whatever, but a character without flaws who doesn't learn anything (Captain Marvel, anyone?) is almost always super boring.

Third, modern depictions of strong female characters all make their heroines hyper-competent, smart-mouthed, uber-masculine butt-kickers (who can always win in hand-to-hand combat despite having very little muscle tone). What are we teaching little girls? That you have to be more like a man to succeed? Obviously, this critique is partially based in population-wide over-generalizations, and loads of real life women are probably closer to the so-called masculine ideal than I will ever be (and that's okay), but these stereotypes exist for a reason. They do to some extent reflect reality. I think Hollywood writers (and Western society in general) greatly undervalue femininity. Galadriel from Lord of the Rings avoids this trap effortlessly.

Kind of the genesis for my comic was to experiment with writing strong female leads who don't fall into these traps.
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3 days ago, 2:16 PM #15
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When enemies to lovers is done painfully wrong.

I should preface and say that I actually do like enemies to lovers tropes, hell, Enoch and Hope in my comic are an enemies to lovers couple. Its just that I've seen sooo many depictions in media where this trope is made into "abusers to lovers" instead. If the love interest is cruel to their future partner, or has done unforgivably evil things then I personally cannot enjoy the pairing at all. Likewise any variation of "I can change him!" is overdone and terrible. Then of course there's the case of bad writing, where two enemies will suddenly want to bone or (even worse) start dating/get married with very little development.

Imo the 'enemies to lovers' trope works best as "enemies-friends-lovers" There should be some development in between the "we hate each other" and "we love each other dearly" stage where the characters learn to trust each other and get some character growth.
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3 days ago, 2:24 PM #16
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andygruba:It's always an old wizard mentor guy? (Or just an old mentor guy in general) It feels rife for subversion but I can't think of any fun examples off the top of my head (unless Doc Brown counts?) edit: WAIT EDA THE OWL LADY

First off, I agree, Eda the Owl Lady is a fantastic old mentor lady.

As for my least favorite tropes, it’d probably be the “two main characters need to end up in a romantic relationship” trope. And there’s probably an actual term for that I’m unaware of, but I think this trope is pretty common in dramas, YA novels, kids shows, etc, especially when the two main characters are a boy and a girl. I just feel like this trope is overplayed and overused. Sometimes I feel like writers don’t even write the relationship with any personality or whatever, it’s just “Oh gosh, gotta get these two together by the end of the movie, howabout they miraculously fall in love?” Anytime I see this I have to mentally take a step back and sigh before continuing reading/watching whatever it is.

I’m probably just reading or watching the wrong stuff, lol, but when I get a book about superheroes and then a romantic struggle (with the whole will they confess-won’t they confess) is a major focus, I feel a little cheated.
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3 days ago, 2:30 PM #17
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i still cant get over how they butchered the entire star wars story by making annakin sooooo dumb that even though he has a position of power on the jedi council, his wife is an empress or something.. has a baby.. fought along side obi wan his whole life.. palpatines like out of nowhere.. sooo.. why dont you say skrew it all and hop on this "dark side thing" i heard you can get whatever you want with it.. and annakins like.... yeeeeesssss maaaaaster
3 days ago, 2:35 PM #18
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Makes the Heroic Knight destined to save the villagers from being killed by dragon into a feudal overlord who conscripts all the men into his army (getting them killed later) and sells everyone else into slavery to finance the war. There. The Prophecy is fulfilled. Problem solved.


Anyway...

Humans as someone special.

Planets of Hats (notably Proud Warrior Races).

Especially in stories where humans are the younger species but they end outperforming older and more established ones.

I understand human protagonists might be needed as audience vehicles. I understand that creating diverse cultures is harder than making them stereotypes.

Except, even in non-realistic universes where other species are rubber forehead aliens it would be impossible to reach higher levels of civilizational development without the civilization in question being diverse.

Any form of progress requires diverse people doing diverse things exchanging diverse ideas.

If a society can achieve as much as making weapons and forming any type of military unit they should be as diverse as are humans.

There will be racial stereotypes being thrown around, people will have preferred traditions, but it should not be anything more than that.

Mass Effect is an example with a really terrible case of this juxtaposed with the opposite.

Krogans absolutely should never be as much of a threat as they were. Not in the setting where your proud warriors are useless unless your space navy is up to the task of delivering them anywhere.
Humans in this setting can mass produce robots that are much more threatening than the proud warrior space turtles. Human technology is considered very average.

Turians, on the other hand, are very effective except it comes mostly from how well organized they are. Sure they are mentioned to have a very military-like society, but that's just their liking for strict hierarchies. Not that many warrior-like turians in the story except for those who work in the military. In spite of their look, turians also are the most humanlike in their overall behavior.

The less is said about Star Trek Klingons, the better. Cardassians and Romulans come as much more threatening. They also are much less one note.
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3 days ago, 2:45 PM #19
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KAM:God, that was dull. It was the literary equivalent of walking on a treadmill. Why did the author waste her time writing it? She kept giving away the ending all through the book. I was expecting a twist of some kind, but no.


In my opinion: Chosen One prophecies are for children whose life is dull and predictable.
Like, even without actual abuse, some parents think kids shouldn't learn any autonomy at all (and when at 18 they're on their own and don't know how to handle themselves, well it proves they weren't fit to learn autonomy all along, of course! But this is a digression). They follow schedules that were made for them, eat food and wear clothes that were chosen for them, the people taking these decisions for them don't let them see the reasons for them, and when they get in trouble, it's as likely that the rules allowed no room for honest mistakes or unexpected events than they actually chose to disobey. Agency is a foreign concept.
Kids raised like that aren't rare. And what is escapism for them? Not a fully autonomous protagonist that can navigate a life of possibilities and explore a deep and complex world and get to know other characters with a rich inner life, that's too far removed from their experience. Being railroaded on a different track but in this one they're welcomed and make everyone's life better instead of being a begrudgingly tolerated burden? Please!
These stories aren't satisfying to adults, nor to happy kids. But there IS a "please tell me I have a purpose" demographic out there.
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3 days ago, 2:58 PM #20
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THIS.. i had a knife to my throat and rifle pointed in my mouth by the time i hit 15 but when i went home and my mom said "what did you do today, buddy? i didnt tell her.. and my parents style of parenting was ... make him do absolutely nothing he doesnt want to EXCEPT boy scouts of america.. and when my corrupt white surpremisist troop failed a kids eagle progression over politics this one dad made a new troop.. a small.. and broke one.. called 007.. and it was really cool... but other than that.. my dad took more lsd by the time he was 18 than half the guys who took a "bit" and went completely insane by the time they were 50 and hes mid 70s.. and the whole time he signed up for nam HIMSELF.. and hes a catholic who is so apologetic for being human he once wrote me a letter of apology every day for like three years.. over a thousand letters.. because he picked up a bottle when he was a kid.. when he ALSO did alot of meth, crack, coke, heroin, pcp, mushrooms, weed, ect.. and ended up hooked on his own adhd medication when he actually has adhd.. and my twin brother is a 152 IQ math wiz with the fundamental theorem of calculus tatted on his shoulder.. and always says that makes no sense with his eyes closed like he cant find x.. and hes a christian.. my sister did alot of drugs but ended up not even smoking weed more than a few times a week and absolutely DETESTS cigarettes because they killed my mom.. and my mom was legit a white muslim.. after those doctor fucks had the nerve to put a whiteboard next to her fucking deathbed she wrote "read the qoran in arabic.. and -rock a really great orgy.. she said when i was like 16.. ethan, if you wanna do drugs fine. I DONT DO DRUGS.. but damn.. she still smoked those things
Forum > General discussion > What are your least favorite tropes in stories?
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