Created By: Dcoetzee on May 28, 2010 Last Edited By: Dcoetzee on May 28, 2010
Troped

Consistency

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There are, roughly speaking, three kinds of consistency that a viewer expects from a story:

  • External Consistency: Consistency with the real world.
  • Genre Consistency: Consistency with other fictional works.
    • The fictional universe should behave like other works in its genre, unless specifically noted otherwise. Any fictional concepts, characters, or settings borrowed from other works should behave as they do in those works. For example, a dragon is generally expected to be a flying reptilian creature that breathes fire. If your work takes place in an Expanded Universe, you're generally expected to be consistent with Canon.
  • Internal Consistency: Consistency with itself.
    • Any rules, events, settings, or characters that have been established within the fictional work continue to exist and function as they did previously, unless otherwise indicated.

Consistency aids Willing Suspension of Disbelief, while violations of consistency are jolting and unexpected. The viewer would be quite surprised to learn that in your universe, Hitler was a circus performer, dragons are scared of fire, and that those two characters who previously knew each other no longer recognize each other. Generally, if a work is inconsistent, the viewer expects there to be a good reason for it.

Often, a feature in a work is consistent at one level and not at another; for example, maybe your vampires glitter, which is not genre consistent with other works featuring vampires, but as long as they always do that, it is internally consistent. If a work forgoes external consistency in favor of genre consistency, you have The Coconut Effect.

Related tropes:

General

External Consistency

Lack of External Consistency

Genre Consistency

Lack of Genre Consistency

Internal Consistency

Lack of Internal Consistency

No examples - this is just a descriptive Super Trope and index. Could use more related tropes. Rolling Updates in effect.

Community Feedback Replies: 9
  • May 27, 2010
    henke37
    A reason for there being no consistency could be that there where no rules in the first place. It's kinda fun when a movie is just random chaos.
  • May 27, 2010
    Xzenu
    Very interesting project, I'm bookmarking this one. :-) Some tropes to add:

    Genre Consistency

    Lack of Genre Consistency

    Lack of Internal Consistency

  • May 27, 2010
    Dcoetzee
    Thanks Xzenu. :-) I think Shown Their Work and Did Not Do The Research apply more to External Consistency than they do to Genre Consistency (although someone can certainly screw that up through not reading/viewing other fictional material in the genre). A Wizard Did It is a great one.

  • May 27, 2010
    Xzenu
    Yeah. Genre works too, but external fits better. :-)
  • May 27, 2010
    Xzenu
    Hmm...

    Where to put...
    1. Fridge Brilliance
    2. Fridge Horror
    3. No Endor Holocaust
    4. Inferred Holocaust
    ?

    They tend to overlap between external and internal. Number 3 and 4 both use the explosion of the death star as example, assuming that phusics ion starwars works like in our world eventough this is clearly not the case. So I guess extrenal consistency is the safest spot for all four tropes.

    Maybe start using (&) after the trope as a sign of "While this trope mainly belong in this category, it can come up in other categories as well. For example, Fridge Horror can come from a realization about how the particular setting works, making it a matter of Internal Consistency in that case."

  • May 27, 2010
    Prime32
    Lack of Consistency: Timey Wimey Ball
  • May 27, 2010
    Dcoetzee
    I decided to put Timey Wimey Ball under lack of internal consistency (since it concerns variation in time travel within a single work) and No Endor Holocaust under lack of external consistency (since it concerns a violation of the expectation that destructive acts would be as destructive as they would be in real life). I don't think Fridge Brilliance, Fridge Horror, or Inferred Holocaust actually concern consistency.
  • May 28, 2010
    Dcoetzee
    Bump
  • May 28, 2010
    Dcoetzee
    One more bump before launch.
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