Created By: KJMackley on January 1, 2012 Last Edited By: KJMackley on May 11, 2012

Story Convention Origin

We now know where it came from

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Trope
Characters and stories are known for building their internal conventions, be it a Catch Phrase or Running Gag, it is often introduced as something they have been doing for a long time.

This is when time is taken to actually explain where that specific convention came about, be it through a Flashback, Prequel or merely a story told through dialogue.

Examples:
  • In Home Improvement, the quirky neighbor Wilson would great Tim with "Hidey-Ho Neighbor" and it was just his Catch Phrase. Wilson decided to put on a stage performance detailing the interesting things he had done in his life, he brought up an encounter with an African Tribal leader who greated him in his native language, which translated out to "Hidey-Ho Neighbor." Tim and family exclaimed "That's where it comes from!"
    • Al was known for always wearing flannel and was sometimes teased about it. In a male bonding session Tim learned that it is because Al's father would give him a flannel shirt to wear when working outside.
  • The Big Bang Theory episode "The Staircase Implimentation" was a flashback to when Leonard first moved in with Sheldon. It featured several nods to their current habits including Sheldon finding "his spot" on the couch. And a running set piece the show uses is the characters having to climb the stairs of their apartment because the elevator was out, and Leonard explained the story of how it got broken in the first place. Leonard tried showing off some experimental rocket fuel to Howard and Raj, only to get the mixture wrong. In an attempt to get it out of the building Sheldon forced Leonard to leave the elevator with the canister inside, exploding and destroying the elevator.
  • Scrubs has used this a few times with explaining the characters personality quirks, most of them issues with their parents. Elliot has a hard time using proper terminology for sex organs because her mother would use those same terms and sneak away with the pool boy. Todd is a lecherous Casanova Wannabe because his father acted the same way.
    • While not quite explaining the origin, J.D. and Turk's affectionate nickname of "Chocolate Bear" and "Vanilla Bear" for each other came about in college when they had a third friend, a Hispanic guy named Ricky who went by "Caramel Bear."
  • Burn Notice has Sam frequently using the cover-ID of Chuck Finley, tying himself to that name fairly tightly, "Chuck Finley is forever." In the prequel movie Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe it shows him using that name for the first time, taken from the cover of a sports magazine (Sam is not a trained spy but a special forces operative, that was his first time taking on a cover).
Community Feedback Replies: 43
  • January 1, 2012
    scatterclubs
    Considering that it's based on the Running Gag, it could be called the Starting Pistol.
  • January 1, 2012
    Diask

  • January 1, 2012
    Specialist290
    ^^ Seconding something along the lines of "Running Gag's Starting Pistol." Brilliant extension of the metaphor.
  • January 1, 2012
    TonyG
  • January 1, 2012
    Stratadrake
    Starting Pistol what? That's ... relying too much on cleverness. Comes at the expense of being clear.

    Exact definition of Gag notwithstanding, we probably do need a name along the lines of "Origin Story".
  • January 1, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Not sure if this counts, since I was never a regular watcher. I don't know whether this was an actual thing on the show or just invented for the one episode where it comes up.
    • Everybody Loves Raymond: we find out the origin of why Ray's brother Robert always touches food to his chin before eating it - it's because his mother did it to him as she fed him when he was little before Ray was born and it made him feel loved. After she stopped he continued to do it himself.
  • January 1, 2012
    KJMackley
    Truthfully the original title I was going for was "Origin of the Running Gag" but I caught that the idea was larger than that. Starting Pistol is a clever pun, but not for the trope name.
  • January 2, 2012
    NESBoy
    In the Pinky And The Brain episode "Project B.R.A.I.N.", the Brain develops the desire to impress humans with his intellectual prowess and subsequently be appointed to "some prestigious position in their hierarchy", but hadn't thought about actually trying to Take Over The World himself until Pinky said, "Wouldn't it be lovely if you ruled the world, Brain?" Cue the first time the Are You Pondering What Im Pondering bit occurs, with the variable in Pinky's response being "...then I would have to know what pondering is, wouldn't I?"
  • January 4, 2012
    Tuomas
    The prologue of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade reveals how Indiana Jones' fear of snakes came to be, as well as where he got his hat, and how he picked his habit of using the whip.
  • January 4, 2012
    YouKeepUsingThatWord
    I'd prefer Origin of the Running Gag

    Origin of the Trope makes me think you've just discovered a Trope Namer
  • January 4, 2012
    sxizzor
    So That's Where It Came From could work.
  • January 4, 2012
    Duncan
    In Torchwood, Captain Jack Harkness was revealed to have taken his alias and rank from a soldier who died in the blitz.
  • January 4, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In Universe in Family Guy during a Manatee Gag where Peter gets excited to hear a Title Drop in movies. We see him watching movies and responding to the title.
    Superman: in film The only way for me to solve this crisis is to be Superman IV The Quest For Peace.
    Peter: Oh, that's why they call it that.
  • January 4, 2012
    JingleBells
    Possible titles: "So that's where it comes from!" or "Explanatory Retcon" or "Origin Retcon"
  • January 4, 2012
    tetraploid
    In An Abundance Of Katherines , the word "fug" appears to be a form of either Funetik Aksent of self-censorship on the part of Colin and Hassan. However, when Lindsay inquires about it, they give this explanation: In the origianal manuscript of the Norman Mailer novel The Naked and the Dead, almost every page used the word "fuck". when the publisher asked Mailer to tone down the swearing, he literally changed every "fuck" to "fug". Being the teenage smartasses that they are, Hassan & Colin appreciated his ingenuity.
  • January 7, 2012
    KJMackley
    "So That's Where It Comes From" sounds like dialogue and we have plenty of non-dialogue alternatives
  • January 7, 2012
    bulmabriefs144
    The Origin Of The Trope is good, only drop The.
  • January 7, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    That makes it seem like a duplicate of Trope Maker or Ur Example.
  • January 8, 2012
    Bronzethumb
    • Came up in a lot of the flashbacks in Lost, with things like Jack's tattoos and Desmond's habit of calling people "Brutha".
    • A flashback episode of The West Wing explains Bartlet's Catch Phrase, "What's next", as being his way of saying "We're done with this, end of story, move on to the next goddamn subject".
    • In Prison Break, Michael has an in-universe recurring motif of origami cranes because they symbolise familial obligation, representing the obligation he feels to help his brother.
    • Walter Bishop's Running Gag of asking for strange foods while examining gory crime scenes is because his mind has literally been addled by unnecessary surgeries, drug use and 17 years confined to a mental institution; foods are a mental link allowing him to remember details that might be relevant to the current case.
  • January 9, 2012
    TrustBen
    A flashback in the Seinfeld episode "The Betrayal" showed Kramer as being diffident about dropping in on Jerry until Jerry tells him, "What's mine is yours."
  • January 9, 2012
    ccoa
    You can't use the word trope as a placeholder, so this needs a better name.
  • January 9, 2012
    tustin2121
    In Fiddler On The Roof: Subverted.
    Tevye: You may ask, 'How did this tradition get started?' I'll tell you! *Beat* I don't know.
  • January 9, 2012
    tustin2121
    Going off that ^, how about How Did This Get Started or How Did This Tradition Get Started for the name?
  • January 9, 2012
    ScanVisor
  • January 9, 2012
    69BookWorM69
    I kinda like the Starter's Pistol bit.
  • January 9, 2012
    WackyMeetsPractical
    How about Start Of Recurring Element for the name? It's the most concise and descriptive title I could think of.
  • January 9, 2012
    KJMackley
    Story Convention Origin sounds the best to me. This trope seems to have a lot of support, does anyone oppose that name? The only thing that sounds off is it may sound like trivia to some people (ie "This is where the writers came up with the idea...").

    Names like "So that's where it comes from" are only going to lead to bad examples like the Family Guy gag about the Title Drop.
  • January 10, 2012
    tustin2121
    ^^ "Element"? That seems too.... dictionary-like for TV tropes.
  • January 14, 2012
    KJMackley
    Bump- if this is as far as the discussion will go as far as a name is concerned I think I'll push for Story Convention Origin.
  • May 8, 2012
    KJMackley
    It's pretty common for a flashback to where someone gets a defining scar is shown. Indiana Jones got his scar on his chin from his first time using a whip, Spike from Buffy The Vampire Slayer got a scar on his left temple fighting a Chinese Slayer he eventually killed.
  • May 8, 2012
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    I like Story Convention Origin. Element is a fun word, but there are so many tropes about Elemental Powers that it might get a bit confusing, maybe?

    How I Met Your Mother often does this with traditions that we didn't know existed until that episode, e.g. the main cast like to get together and watch a sports match (I want to say the Superbowl?) every year.
  • May 8, 2012
    TBeholder
  • May 8, 2012
    peccantis
    ^ this is not about tropes yo.
  • May 8, 2012
    DracMonster
    Methinks the title should be changed pronto (another placeholder at least.) I almost posted the same kneejerk reaction without reading the description.
  • May 8, 2012
    KJMackley
    Name changed to eliminate confusion, this is about where a character picked up their Catch Phrase, not the first person to use a catch phrase EVER.
  • May 8, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In a Flashback episode of The Simpsons showing how Homer & Marge first met (at summer camp when they were 10) Marge tries to call Homer at the boys camp; but he didn't give her his real name, he called himself "Elvis Jaggar Abul-Jabbar." When she calls she gets camp counselor Moe, who has never heard of EJA-J, thinks it's a prank call and threatens Marge with bodily harm. Then he hangs up and says to the audience "And that's the origin of that."
  • May 8, 2012
    animeg3282
    I still liked the starting pistol thing... but I have no examples.
  • May 9, 2012
    robinjohnson
    Just So Story for a title? edit: obviously not, as it's already a bluelink. But possibly something playing on it.
  • May 9, 2012
    Jordan
    If we're talking about catchphrases and their origins, there's already a trope called Flashback To Catchphrase
  • May 10, 2012
    TBeholder
    Er... What is a "story convention" that doesn't fall under "genre" or "trope"?
  • May 11, 2012
    KJMackley
    ^ We tend to label tropes in fairly broad terms, such as Running Gag or Catch Phrase, but how those tropes are used tend to vary. An internal story convention is something that is unique to the particular story/series and is too specific to be a trope by itself. For instance The Big Bang Theory have the characters walk several flights of stairs because the elevator is broken, they created a Walk And Talk convention unique to their show. That uniqueness is the key to this trope, it causes you to wonder how it got started.
  • May 11, 2012
    Bisected8
    When this is applied to a Weapon Of Choice, it's Weapon Jr.
  • May 11, 2012
    DracMonster
    ^^ In other words, this is "Why is indiana jones afraid of snakes?" not "What is the origin of Why Did It Have To Be Snakes"
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