Tropes that are only patterns if you look at a whole genre or all fiction, rather than taken case by case
Alternative title: Aggregate Tropes Redirects: Only A Trope In Aggregate, Only Tropes In Aggregate Tropes In Aggregate
Sometimes, a trope isn't the tree. It's the whole forest. That is, when you see something used in fiction, it can seem to not mean anything. It's an artistic choice on the part of the creator, but it has no actual meaning beyond that and you might be tempted to label it "not a trope." Until you look at a whole genre, or even all of fiction, and notice that this particular artistic choice happens a lot. A lot more than it ever happens in Real Life, in fact. It's nearly universal to a genre. What you have here is an Aggregate Trope. It's a storytelling pattern, but that pattern only becomes apparent when you take all the examples as a whole rather than look at individual examples.
Tropes that are only a trope in aggregate:
Help finding more aggregate tropes on TV tropes would be appreciated. Thanks!