[[quoteright:330:[[WesternAnimation/SouthPark http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/deadhorse.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:330:Nobody told him that {{Visual Pun}}s aren't funny anymore.]]

->''"For years there have been reports of the death of {{the Western}}. Now comes ''American Outlaws'', proof that even [[SpaghettiWestern the B Western]] is dead. It only wants to be a bad movie, and fails."''
-->-- '''Creator/RogerEbert'''

A {{trope}} which has gone way beyond being a DiscreditedTrope to where the very act of Playing With that trope has itself become a trope.

The progression is generally:

Clever idea → {{Trope}} → DiscreditedTrope → Dead Horse Trope.

→ Then, if the downward slide continues, it may end up as a ForgottenTrope.

[[TropeNamers Named for]] "Beating[[note]]or 'Flogging'[[/note]] a Dead Horse" -- an old idiom that describes continuing in a course of action which is ''clearly'' pointless. There's no use in [[TropeNamers whipping your dead horse]] to make it move faster -- that horse is ''[[HesDeadJim dead]]''; [[CaptainObvious it's not going anywhere]].

Naturally, the Dead Horse Tropes tend to be TheOldestOnesInTheBook, too.

If a Dead Horse Trope is still used straight in recent works despite seemingly being used/abused to death, it's an UndeadHorseTrope. If it was never really played straight in the first place (but everyone assumes it was), it's a DeadUnicornTrope. If it's so natural to the medium of storytelling that it can still be played straight no matter how often it's used and abused, it's an {{Omnipresent Trope|s}}. If the trope not only makes viewers/readers groan but also makes them angry, you've probably got a PetPeeveTrope.

A common cause of SeinfeldIsUnfunny, because it's hard to imagine yourself back into the innocent frame of mind when this was ''new''. A related trope is DeaderThanDisco, where something that was very popular in its day later becomes better known for the backlash against it than for its own merits.

Compare DiscreditedMeme.

Please put any examples on the trope pages, as it gets in the way of indexing.


* AllThatGlitters: Don't expect anyone to take this {{A|nAesop}}esop seriously. More of a SpoofAesop, if it were an aesop. Famous straight uses include ''Literature/TheMerchantOfVenice'' or ''Literature/DonQuixote'', both of which were {{Trope Codifier}}s. ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'' inverts it: "All that is gold does not glitter."
* AmericaSavesTheDay has been one since the seventies at the latest; UsefulNotes/TheVietnamWar and an overdose of this trope in the Hollywood of the forties, fifties, and sixties conspired to kill it. In some respects, TheWarOnTerror was supposed to be this, only going to prove how dead it actually is.
* AsianSpeekeeEngrish has been one for decades due to ValuesDissonance over racism. There ''are'' Asians who have broken English, very much TruthInTelevision, but it's not treated as comedy anymore unless the author ''[[CrossesTheLineTwice wants]]'' [[CrossesTheLineTwice to come off as offensive]] (or has the Asian equivalent of NWordPrivileges).
* BlackDudeDiesFirst: After comedians started mocking its use, and general racism decreased. It still occasionally happens but it's not expected to anymore, to the point that most examples are coincidences in modern works (or intentional parodies)... ''most''.
* {{Blackface}}: Rarely appears in modern mainstream media played straight. If it shows up at all, it's generally for BlackComedy (NoPunIntended), satirical purposes, or DeliberateValuesDissonance. It still does occasionally show up in Japanese culture, but even that can be prone to controversy and creates [[ValuesDissonance serious headaches for exporters]].
* BlackmailIsSuchAnUglyWord: This trope is only played for laughs now.
* Anything with BritishRoyalGuards in London, or [[WesternAnimation/DudleyDoRight Royal Canadian Mounties]] -- ''except'' in {{Police Procedural}}s, where they are depicted more realistically.
* BulletTime: ''Franchise/TheMatrix'' [[FollowTheLeader inspired so many imitations and parodies in the early-to-mid 2000s]] that audiences got sick of it, and nowadays, it's seen as nothing more than a gimmick. It's still played straight fairly often in video games, though, often as a power-up or AntiFrustrationFeature.
* BumblingDad: Pretty much in any comedy that started after 1992 has the dad being so incompetent that if they were single, CPS would be taking them away, [[SocialServicesDoesNotExist if they have them]]. Also thanks to the DoubleStandard, the dad being a bumbling buffoon is okay, but the mother being one would create accusation of misogynistic undertones.
* Due to their usage as far back as silent movies and early theatrical cartoons, some of the more common {{Deathtrap}} conventions are dead horse tropes. ChainedToARailway and the ConveyorBeltODoom are prime examples. The DastardlyWhiplash mustache-twirling villain also present in such things is almost never used seriously these days.
* UsefulNotes/TheDarkAgeOfComicBooks: While many series have continued to get DarkerAndEdgier, the specific stylings of 90's comics, such as pouches, random metal ornamentation, and bizarre headpieces have all been parodied well after they went out of style.
* The excuse "{{A dog ate my homework}}!" is so prevalent in media that even students know better than to pull this when they don't finish their homework. Nowadays, this is [[EvolvingTrope replaced]] by the more plausible "My printer stopped working!" The logical extension of this trope, [[BreadEggsBreadedEggs "The dog ate my printer!"]], has yet to catch on.
* DastardlyWhiplash: The original form of this stock villain character appeared in stage melodramas through the 1910s to the 1930s, after which it was parodied in silent film; the character has been appearing only as a parody of itself for so long that the parody is now the trope and its origins are close to being [[ForgottenTrope forgotten altogether]]. For the record, even in silent film, the only work that contains a character similar to Dastardly Whiplash at all is the serial ''The Perils of Pauline'', and in it the character [[UnbuiltTrope is quite different from any later parodies]]. As ''WesternAnimation/DudleyDoRight'' was a parody of ''Pauline'' in many ways, this led to the misconception that such a character was very common throughout all silent films.
* DonutMessWithACop: Many actual donut shops would now face fines or other undesirable consequences if they gave free donuts and coffee to law enforcement officials. On the other hand, this just means the cops just buy the donuts and coffee and still hang out there, so it manages to remain true even though it's a dead horse (cops are fully aware of the trope and treat it with a laugh, because who ''doesn't'' like donuts?)
* DunceCap: Actual schools don't do this anymore.
* EekAMouse: Rarely used; frequently parodied.
* ExplodingCalendar: Pretty much ''everyone'' has done a gag at some point or another, making the joke a trope of its own.
** Also applies word-for-word to the SpinningPaper. %% Needs to remain on this line for the ExtraExtra line to make sense.
* Speaking of newspapers, there's the paperboy calling out "{{Extra Extra|ReadAllAboutIt}}!"
* FaceOnAMilkCarton: Thanks to, in the U.S. at least, the Amber Alert system which allows missing children's names to be broadcast on television or on expressway signs within minutes. You might still see it on Iceland-brand milk bottles, but otherwise this is almost never seen anymore in real life, and hardly ever done seriously in fiction these days. However, they still exist, in the form of dozens of posters (with age progression) at the entrances to Wal-Mart stores and some grocery store chains.
* FauxInterracialRelationship died out due to better attitudes on interracial marriages.
* FlashbackStares: Characters who stop to stare wistfully into the mid-distance are more likely to be interrupted by another character asking what they're looking at.
* FloatingAdviceReminder: Except for ''Series/CoronationStreet'' but that hasn't yet happened.
* GloveSlap: Just slapping them is far more common now.
* GoodAngelBadAngel: Straight examples are rare in these days. PlayingWithATrope is more common: two devils, two angels, convincing devil and dimwit angel, the devil and the angel ''agree'', etc.
* GreatWhiteHunter: A combination of accusations of racism and of an increase in animal rights. If one such hunter does show up, he'll either be laughably behind-the-times or genuinely evil.
* HelpingGrannyCrossTheStreet: The only examples you'll see in modern media involves the old lady never wanting to cross in the first place, or crankily belting the hero with their cane or handbag. Occasionally the straight version still shows up in commercials and music videos with a "good deeds, pass them on" theme. [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2Hs868FxGY&feature=player_detailpage#t=91 There are some real life examples here.]]
* Hippies are seldom played straight outside of Sixties period pieces, having been mostly replaced by {{New Age Retro Hippie}}s and {{Granola Girl}}s.
* HypnoRay: Along with hypnotism in general, unless its ability to be effective is heavily justified in-universe.
* IRememberItLikeItWasYesterday as a segue into a FlashBack. More often than not, "it" ''was'' yesterday or maybe even "earlier today."
* IdeaBulb: Nowadays usually has the lightbulb somehow breaking or turning off if they have a bad idea or forget, or using candles or other sources of light for characters predating the lightbulb, or possibly even taking the lightbulb out and using it in their idea.
* InstantCultured: Several prominent smart folks have come out in modern times without engaging in so-called "smart people" activities.
* ItsAWonderfulPlot: The original plot is nowadays more commonly parodied (by the world in fact being better off if the protagonist was never born) than played straight.
* ItsQuietTooQuiet: If a character does actually think it's too quiet, they're not going to say it. If this trope does get used, it'll usually be followed immediately by something that's not actually a threat making a loud noise.
* JailBake: If you're planning to [[TheGreatEscape break out of jail]], you'll have to find a more creative method if you need a file smuggled in; modern prisons have metal detectors and anything visitors bring will be searched.
* {{Kawaiiko}}: Now that we're in the age of salarymen, [[NightmareFuel Japanese sex dolls]] (as mentioned by Justin Lee Collins) and Japanese supermodels like Leah Dizon, this trope is ''very'' much now no longer able to be played straight. British magazine ''Take A Break'' treated it as TheNewRockAndRoll, but they were TwoDecadesBehind - the kawaii fad is [[DeaderThanDisco known for its flaws and is a joke nowadays]].
* KnightsAndKnaves: The solution to this puzzle has become so well-known thanks to PopCulturalOsmosis that it can't be played straight anymore. If it's used at all, expect the creators to throw in a third guard, or otherwise add an element to make the puzzle much harder.
* LieBackAndThinkOfEngland: If a woman endures sex rather than enjoys it, it's either a signal that [[RapeAsBackstory she's had traumatic experiences with sex]] or that her partner [[TheLoinsSleepTonight is inadequate.]] Or she's {{asexual|ity}}.
* LightsOffSomebodyDies: Parodies that have pointed out the sheer amount of FridgeLogic required to make this kind of "whodunnit" plot work mean that no one's going to play it straight.
* LookBehindYou: This is mainly for the fact that a lot of problems could be avoided [[EvilOverlordList by simply stepping aside]], so that the villain could eye both {{the hero}} and whatever was behind him simultaneously.
* MattressTagGag: Not only is this trope not played straight anymore, it's doubtful that it ever was.
* MayanDoomsday / MillenniumBug: These dates of a supposed "end of the world" are safely in the distant past, and suffice to say, the world remains intact. It's hard to imagine any works playing either of the tropes straight anymore.
* MinstrelShows: While it would be a stretch to say that racism is completely extinct, the more overt displays of it are certainly no longer generally acceptable.
* [[FauxtivationalPoster Motivational Poster]]: Barely played straight to begin with, parodied endlessly.
* NaziHunter tracking down someone involved in the Holocaust, as anyone who served in World War II gets too long in the tooth to be anything other than a NaziGrandpa. And the generation that would have been old enough to be movers and shakers in the Nazi party would now be centenarians. Finally, the end of the UsefulNotes/ColdWar dramatically expanded the choice of stock villains.
* NinetyPercentOfYourBrain: It turns out that most people do indeed use all of their brain, just not all at once the same way you won't have every light in your house on if you're not in a particular room. In fact, if you ever find yourself with all your "lights" on at once, congratulations: you're having a seizure.
* NobodyHereButUsBirds: Fell out of favor after bad guys in 1990s environmental movies aimed at kids started falling for it. The parodies and use of this trope to indicate "look at how dumb those {{Mooks}} are" mean that it's never going to be used in any serious context.
* NonIronicClown: For some reason, every clown in these days tends to be [[MonsterClown scary]] or {{sad|Clown}}. Portraying a clown as a genuinely friendly cheerful jester is unusual. Likewise, most fictional priests nowadays tend to be [[PedophilePriest child molesters]] or [[SinisterMinister otherwise villainous]], to the point where a genuine GoodShepherd is rare.
* PeelingPotatoes: At least when done by soldiers in the military on KP as a punishment. Mess halls nowadays have more efficient ways to do it.
* PrinceCharming: Time was, every fairytale had a character whose main function was to be a) physically attractive and b) a socially advantageous marriage prospect for {{the hero}}/heroine, by virtue of being wealthy and/or a member of the aristocracy. Information about this character's actual ''personality'' tended to be sketchy at best, [[TropesAreTools except period dramas]]. Remained popular through the early Franchise/DisneyAnimatedCanon. Nowadays princes are just as often clueless and vain, if not downright evil. See PrinceCharmless, which is the current form nowadays. See what we meant by the spoof becoming a trope?
* {{Retirony}}: It's far more common to see this outright {{discussed|Trope}}, or [[PlayingWithATrope played with]] than played straight anymore.
* RosesAreRedVioletsAreBlue: Parodied more often than played straight.
* SaveThePrincess: Had its days as an acceptable ExcusePlot in VideoGames, but those days are pretty much over. [[GrandfatherClause Unless you're]] [[Franchise/SuperMarioBros Mario]].
* ScaryFlashlightFace: Listed as both a horror trope and a comedy trope.
* ScoobyDoobyDoors: Not even its [[WesternAnimation/ScoobyDoo trope namer]] uses this seriously anymore. And even when it ''was'' used, it usually subverted or played with this every time.
* ShowdownAtHighNoon: No longer played straight, [[GrandfatherClause except in Western films or novels]], but even then done as a tip of the hat to tradition.
* SleepingSingle: An EnforcedTrope by television censors implementing the Hays Code in the [=1930s=]. It was considered kind of silly even at the time, and wasn't even outright banned in the Code's heyday. Sitcoms from the [=1950's=] started ignoring the Code, and this trope died along with it.
* SlowNo: This trope is parodied now, and virtually never used straight these days.
* SmokingHotSex: Two factors work against this one. Smoking in general has become [[NoSmoking less acceptable]] in media, while overuse in the 70s/80s has made it hard to even parody the trope without seeming cliche.
* SpeakNowOrForeverHoldYourPeace: It isn't commonly used in RealLife, despite what stereotypes suggest.
* StandardFiftiesFather: The '50s ended, and took the more overt forms of patriarchy along with it. The BumblingDad, originally a pretty clear way of rebelling against this trope, eventually become so prevalent in modern media that showing a sensible, competent father (in a sitcom, anyway) is now the rarity.
* {{Stern Nun}}s beating students at Catholic school. At least in the United States, nuns stopped doing this a long time ago (and also a good many Catholic schoolteachers are lay people), and yet Hollywood and TV shows constantly act like it's still standard procedure, as sitcom parents often threaten their rebellious teen with a transfer to a school run by nuns, implying that they will be beaten.
* SubvertedSuspicionAesop - This type of Suspicion Aesop is NEVER played straight- there's a reason that {{Subverted|Trope}} is in the page title. Sometimes a DoubleSubversion is put on it, but it's never played straight.
* SuperSentaiStance: Almost universally made fun of in these days. Except of course [[{{Toku}} within]] [[Franchise/SuperSentai such]] [[Franchise/PowerRangers series]], and even then it'll be {{lampshade|Hanging}}d.
* TakeMeToYourLeader: Despite the fact that there is some TruthInTelevision in the sense that an explorer in a distant land, upon meeting some of the locals, might wish to speak with whoever's in charge around here, the form of this where visiting extraterrestrials request this is almost never played straight anymore. This is usually replaced in most fiction (mainly movies) with WeComeInPeaceShootToKill- the alien captain will simply vaporize everyone in the room the moment someone says "hello," or he and his unit are mindless StarfishAliens with no concept of diplomacy, or the local GeneralRipper will ignore protocol and blast a hole in the alien's chest long before any leader is summoned. When this line ''is'' used, it's generally combined with an "IAlwaysWantedToSayThat"-type line.
* TheTalk: Considering the proliferation of the Internet and other knowledge resources, this scene cannot be taken seriously by writers or audiences. Unless it's in a period drama or coming-of-age story set before the Information Age. And even then, the "talk" itself might be either vague or incomplete on the parent's part, or the parent might be so jittery about giving the talk that they avoid it altogether. %% No wikiwords on this line, as it would break indexing.
* TallDarkAndHandsome: More like an {{Undead|HorseTrope}}, {{cyclic trope}} that alternates with KnightInShiningArmor. Because of both of these tropes in combination with TheHero and AntiHero, a story can keep the audience in suspense about where exactly it will land on the SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism. On the most literal level, however, this trope is still alive and well. After all, Americans and northern Europeans ''are'' on the average taller than other peoples; black and brown are still the most common hair colors; and HollywoodHomely has yet to become a widespread, non-ironic look for protagonists.
* ThereAreNoRules: There's almost certainly [[RuleNumberOne at least one rule]] nowadays.
* TorchesAndPitchforks: Never mind that most people wouldn't own any torches or pitchforks anyway, this type of mob is only ever used in parodies or as a gag. Any work that plays mob mentality straight typically involves throwing rocks and bottles, smashing windows, and lots of shouting.
* {{Trope 2000}}: Could no longer be played straight in its original form after January 1, 2001. However, the trope is still being played straight, albeit with larger numbers (3000, 4000, etc.) in place of the original 2000.
* {{Utopia}} is mostly deconstructed in these days.
* VampireVords: Strongly associated with "old", Creator/BelaLugosi-style vampires. Neither the modern "sexy" vampires or the few genuinely threatening ones in modern fiction talk this way, because it's silly. Bela himself didn't talk that way; initially memorizing his English lines phonetically, he tended to pronounce "w" as "wh".
* WireDilemma: [[TheWarOnTerror 9/11]], UsefulNotes/TheTroubles and 30 years of terrorists hiding grenades inside dead cows and cars instead of metal boxes marked "BOMB" have stomped this one flat. If it's used at all it will be some subversion, such as all the wires being the same color, or the person with the wire cutters getting fed up and throwing the bomb out the window.
* WorkingOnTheChainGang: The punishment was once very commonplace in [[UsefulNotes/AmericanPrisons Southern US states]] up until the mid-1950s, with Georgia being the last to abolish it in '55. Today only a single county in Arizona remains as the one place that still makes use of chain gangs, although inmates serving on these ones aren't shackled together anymore. Nowadays, chain gangs mostly just exist in period pieces in media that involve prisoners in the early half of the 20th Century. Replaced with "community service" nowadays; usually a crew of guys filling potholes on the highway or picking up litter in the park, but these activities aren't gritty or sexy enough for Hollywood so they rarely show up in media.