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[[quoteright:345:[[VisualPun http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/playingwithredux3_867.png]]]]
[[caption-width-right:345:An easy visual reference.]]

Even with [[TropeTropes tropes about tropes]] (metatropes) that describe how tropes tend to be used, it can be hard to pin down the exact relationship between a {{trope}} and a particular work.

This is a quick-reference guide of ways to play a trope, illustrated for clarity with two simple examples:

* TheButlerDidIt (committed the murder in a mystery story)
* PowerGlows (powerful weapons glow)

The typical forms of using a trope include:
* '''Played Straight''': The trope is simply used.
** [[TheButlerDidIt The butler is the murderer.]] When the detective reveals this, everyone is genuinely surprised.
** [[PowerGlows Powerful weapons glow]] inexplicably.
* '''[[JustifiedTrope Justified]]''': The trope has a reason InUniverse to be present. [[note]]TropesAreTools. Almost all tropes are justified in some way. If you put a JustifyingEdit after every trope that you see you'll be on TV Tropes for the rest of your life and annoy people, too. Justifications are only worth noting if the trope in question is not normally Justified, or if it's a Justification other than the normal one.[[/note]]
** The butler decided to get revenge on his abusive master. ('''This is the usual Justification.''') Or, he did it because he's actually an assassin that took the job to ''be'' BeneathSuspicion.
** Powerful weapons glow because the villains are [[LivingShadow sentient shadows]]. Or the weapon is a LaserBlade, which glows by its nature. ('''This trope is not normally Justified.''')
* '''[[InvertedTrope Inverted]]''': The trope (or its elements) are reversed and then used. Some tropes have more than one possible inversion.
** The butler is the victim. Or the butler solved the crime. Or every suspect ''except'' the butler was part of the crime.
** Only weak weapons glow. Or powerful weapons absorb light, creating darkness around them.
* '''[[SubvertedTrope Subverted]]''': A trope is set up to occur, but then the writer pulls a fast one on the audience, and the trope does not occur after all.
** The butler is the prime suspect at the beginning, and is later found innocent. Or, the butler ''did'' do it, but it turns out it was an AccidentalMurder.
** A huge glowing bomb is assumed to be a superweapon, and is then revealed to not have any effective blast due to its inefficiency.
* '''[[DoubleSubversion Double Subverted]]''': The trope is [[SubvertedTrope Subverted]], and then Subverted again so that it occurs after all.
** The butler is the prime suspect at the beginning, but then eliminated as a suspect -- except he ''did'' do it, and the exonerating evidence is false.
** A huge glowing bomb is assumed to be a superweapon, and is then revealed to not have any effective blast due to its inefficiency. But the glow itself [[NukeEm is super-effective]].
* '''[[ParodiedTrope Parodied]]''': The form of the trope is twisted and used in a silly way, specifically for comic effect.
** Butlers learn their trade at butler college where they are taught [[BreadEggsMilkSquick cleaning, cooking, and murdering.]]
** The heroes fight with giant glowsticks, the kind that you have to snap and shake.
* '''[[DeconstructedTrope Deconstructed]]''': The intentional use and exploration of the trope, played far straighter than usual in order to show the trope as poorly thought out, impractical, or unrealistic. The deconstruction is usually [[DarkerAndEdgier much less nice]] than the source trope, although not always.
** The butler is a revolutionary serial killer, who purposely takes jobs as butlers to murder his rich masters. All the unfortunate implications of class warfare that this suggests are brought up and discussed.
** The most powerful characters all gradually suffer retinal damage and eventually go blind due to the brightness of their weapons.
* '''[[ReconstructedTrope Reconstructed]]''': Reconstructed tropes are the new and improved Played Straight of an often [[{{Deconstruction}} deconstructed trope]]. A Reconstruction reassembles the Deconstruction into something that resembles the original trope, but that would still work in reality. In other words, this is the inversion of a Deconstruction.
** The butler was defending himself from his [[AssholeVictim cruel master]] who was about to murder the butler.
** Vision damage is a risk that the heroes must take to defeat evil. Or perhaps it grants them DisabilityImmunity against a visual BrownNote.
* '''[[ZigZaggingTrope Zig Zagged]]''': None of the above, or more than one of the above; this category covers miscellaneous variations. Examples include a trope that gets triple subverted, both inverted and played straight at the same time, or, well, [[MindScrew just done confusingly]].
** The butler did it, but he was under MindControl at the time. And it later turns out that the one mind controlling the butler looked exactly like the butler. And then we find out that it was actually his EvilTwin, who was also a butler. But it turns out it was a conspiracy hatched by the Butler and his EvilTwin, one born of necessity because the victim was going to do something monstrous.
** There's a fifteen-page-long chart explaining [[TacticalRockPaperScissors how effective weapons with different glow intensities are against one another.]] And the authors ''still'' manage to do a complete AssPull every once in a while.
* '''[[AvertedTrope Averted]]''': The trope is simply absent from the work. It is not used, mentioned, or implied at all. As there are literally thousands of tropes, and ''many, many'' possible uses for most of those tropes, Aversions are generally not worth noting unless they are especially surprising, such as for a [[OmnipresentTropes nearly universally-used trope]] or a [[NecessaryWeasel trope that is very common in the genre]].
** The butler didn't do it. Or the victim does not have a butler at all. Or nobody was killed.
** The weapons do not glow. Or there are no weapons at all.
* '''[[EnforcedTrope Enforced]]''': The trope occurs solely because of outside expectations or obligations placed on the writer, such as ExecutiveMeddling or censorship.
** The producer hates butlers, so [[ExecutiveMeddling he ordered the writers]] to cast the butler as the killer. Or the producer is playing FollowTheLeader to a recent popular murder mystery in which the butler is the killer.
** The toy company handling the merchandising wants to make all the best weapons glow in the dark, so the producers have that incorporated into the strongest weapons on the show.
* '''[[ImpliedTrope Implied]]''': The trope isn't shown, but the audience is indirectly led to believe that it happened off-screen.
** The detective rules out all the guests one-by-one, but in the end he fails to find the real killer. The astute reader notices he never bothered to investigate the butler.
** A character on his way to judge martial arts try-outs carries a light meter.
* '''LogicalExtreme''': The trope is taken as far as it can logically go while still fitting within the description.
** All butlers are in a conspiracy to commit murder.
** The sword's blade is actually made from an energy beam.

{{Trope}}s can also be played differently in terms of tone and style:

* '''PlayedForLaughs''': The humorous elements of a trope are played up. Differs from Parodied by being a straight use. Normally only applicable for serious tropes, but can show up for any trope.
** The butler did it, but it took him three hundred and seventeen tries (of which we're [[ShowDontTell shown twelve]]), all of which his master escaped without realizing anything was happening (including the time when he walked up and shot his master, which the master passed off as "you could've hurt someone, mistaking that gun for a lighter.").
** The hero's glowing sword occasionally starts to flicker and go out, and he has to [[PercussiveMaintenance smack it a few times]] to get it working again.
* '''PlayedForDrama''': The serious or melodramatic elements of a trope are played up. Normally only applicable for comedic tropes, but can show up for any trope.
** The butler did it, but is quite [[SympatheticMurderer sympathetic]], and the reasons he did it are gone into in great detail.
** [[UnholyHolySword Only evil weapons glow, causing the user much angst.]]
* '''[[ExaggeratedTrope Exaggerated]]''': The trope is used [[UpToEleven to an extreme.]] Please note that this does not necessarily have to be used humourously -- a trope can be exaggerated yet still played completely seriously.
** All the butlers in the city go on a killing spree, and nobody suspects a thing. Or, the butler is revealed to be a serial killer.
** The strongest weapons completely obscure the screen by their glow.
* '''[[DownplayedTrope Downplayed]]''': The trope is used to a far lesser degree than typical.
** The butler did indeed do it... "it" being [[FelonyMisdemeanor leaving the toilet seat up.]] Or, he unknowingly assisted the murderer or was [[FelonyMurder criminally negligent]].
** [[MundaneMadeAwesome The hero activates the power in his sword]], but the glow is very faint.
* '''[[Administrivia/TropesAreFlexible Other Variations on a Trope]]''': Sometimes, the difference isn't in how the trope is played functionally, but in how it's presented. The trope is still being Played Straight, but it's dressed up in a way that's unique, often due to other tropes present in the story interacting with it to show the full picture. Especially memorable variations may sometimes [[EvolvingTrope evolve]] into {{Sub Trope}}s through other creators attempting to FollowTheLeader.
** The murderer isn't called a butler in the story, [[ValuesDissonance because the role as we know it doesn't exist in that place or time]] -- but most of their responsibilities or their relationship to their employer-turned-victim are basically the same.
** Powerful weapons glow, and variations in {{color|CodedForYourConvenience}} and intensity will [[MagicAIsMagicA consistently]] represent something significant about the way a weapon functions.

[[GenreSavvy Specific]] characters (or the narrator) can also play with tropes:

* '''[[LampshadeHanging Lampshaded]]''': A trope is Played Straight and explicitly pointed out by one or more characters.
** "So the butler did it! IAlwaysWantedToSayThat."
** "Why are glowing swords more powerful? I mean, it just doesn't make much sense."
* '''[[InvokedTrope Invoked]]''': A character is GenreSavvy, and/or uses their knowledge of a trope as a reason for their own actions, hoping that the effect will come through.
** Ex-butlers are employed as assassin trainers because of their experience as potential murderers.
** The heroine looks for the brightest weapon she can find, seeing how brightness is power.
* '''[[DefiedTrope Defied]]''': A character [[GenreSavvy recognizes a trope]] is about to happen, and takes steps to avoid it.
** "We have to lock all the butlers up before they can kill!"
** "Try not to make the sword glow. We don't want the enemy to know which one to take if they capture us."
* '''[[ExploitedTrope Exploited]]''': A GenreSavvy character, aware that a trope will occur (or is occurring), uses it to their advantage. If the trope is not yet in effect, the character who Exploits it may Invoke it in the process.
** The detective purposely investigates the butler first, because the butler always does it in the mystery books he reads. Or the butler, knowing he will be a suspect in the murder that he plans to commit, plants evidence to make it look like he was framed.
** The hero finds a sword with glow power [[MundaneUtility and uses it as a flashlight in a dark cave.]]
* '''[[DiscussedTrope Discussed]]''': The trope may or may not be used, but it is explicitly discussed by GenreSavvy characters in a relevant situation where it could occur.
** "Unlike what you may read in detective stories, the butler is an unlikely suspect in any murder investigation of this sort."
** "I don't care what anime has taught you: [[ThisIsReality in the real world]], a [[BuffySpeak glowier]] sword is not more powerful."
* '''[[ConversationalTroping Conversed]]''': A conversation about tropes the characters have seen in another work, such as a ShowWithinAShow. Differs from a DiscussedTrope mainly in either its [[SeinfeldianConversation sheer irrelevance]], or being used purely to [[LeaningOnTheFourthWall lean on the fourth wall]].
** "These murder mysteries are too predictable. The butler always does it."
** "In a [[TheresNoBInMovie bad movie like this]], the more powerful swords always glow."

Here are two rarer transformations:

* '''[[TheUntwist Untwisted]]''': Sometimes, a Subversion is ''expected''. In an Untwist, the audience expects a trope to be Subverted, but it is Played Straight instead. The Inversion of a standard Subversion. Highly subjective; any plot development can become TheUntwist to a [[TVTropesWillRuinYourLife sufficiently paranoid reader.]]
** The butler is shown early on as the suspect with the flimsiest alibi, like a typical RedHerring with a BigSecret, but after a series of twists and turns the detective reveals to everyone's surprise that it ''was'' old Alfred, after all.
** The "glowing" weapons appear to not glow at all. However, it turns out that they emit ultraviolet light. So they do glow, just ''not in the visible spectrum''.
* '''Unparodied''': This can mean one of two things: a ParodiedTrope is either {{Subverted|Trope}} into a straight use, or simply used seriously.
** There is an evil butler suit that brainwashes the wearer into committing murder. [[TheDitz Someone dumb]] puts the suit on and, next thing he knows, he has committed 100 murders. He then ends up serving a LongerThanLifeSentence.
** The glowing weapons look like giant glowsticks, but it turns out that they are just as solid and dangerous as iron clubs.

And finally, two special cases:
* '''{{Gender Inverted|Trope}}''': This is specific to AlwaysFemale and AlwaysMale tropes. A trope that is part of either category is used on the opposite gender anyway. This meta-trope doesn't apply to non-gendered tropes like TheButlerDidIt[[note]]Female butlers exist.[[/note]] and PowerGlows, but would to, say, a [[LittleOldLadyInvestigates Little Old Man Investigates]] mystery story.
* '''IntendedAudienceReaction''': An attempt by the creator to evoke a specific {{Audience Reaction|s}} from the viewers. As you may have guessed, this concept is not applicable to objective tropes such as TheButlerDidIt or PowerGlows, but a similar example might be the use of GratuitousSpecialEffects to emphasize that [[SeparateSceneStorytelling the story being told]] is grossly exaggerated.

See our PlayingWithWiki, an entire subwiki dedicated to doing this to every trope in TheCatalogue, and in particular PlayingWith.TropeName, which is a [[LaconicWiki reasonably concise]] version of this list.