A Trope Breaker is a change in cultural context, such as a change in customs or mores, or an advance in technology, which renders some well-loved trope [[DiscreditedTrope moot in contemporary storylines]]. Hollywood usually responds to Trope Breakers sluggishly, and clings to broken tropes via lame justifications. Sometimes a Trope Breaker is just flat-out ignored, leading to lots of FridgeLogic.

The trope may become a DiscreditedTrope, only used for parody, or a totally ForgottenTrope. If it goes on for long enough you'll get an UndeadHorseTrope.

One reason for the PeriodPiece and HistoricalFiction is that you can go back to a time of plausibility. Sometimes the audience doesn't realize that the Trope Breaker is NewerThanTheyThink.

Contrast {{Deconstruction}}, where a trope stops being used because a particular work takes the trope to its logical conclusion. Deconstructions are aimed at tropes ([[IndecisiveDeconstruction most of the time]]), while Trope Breakers have Tropes as collateral damage.

Tropes like ScienceMarchesOn, TechMarchesOn, OutdatedOutfit, TwoDecadesBehind and MagicFloppyDisk are largely subtropes.
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!!Examples:
* DNA testing is a major Trope Breaker for
** {{Soap Opera}}s: In addition to its potential effects on LukeYouAreMyFather and MysteriousParent plots, it could be able to identify many {{Unknown Assailant}}s. Instead, it has spawned a wealth of [[VoodooShark new justifying tropes]] such as the Laboratory Subversion, the Sample Subversion and the Concealed Test Result.
** The Scottish film "Young Adam". It was made in the early 21st century, but had to be set several decades earlier so that DNA testing would not be a plot option. When a drowned woman is discovered to have been pregnant when she died, the last man known to have dated her is charged with her murder (and unjustly convicted) on the grounds that he had impregnated her and didn't want to marry her. DNA testing would have established that he was not the child's father.
** Any uses of MamasBabyPapasMaybe can be broken by DNA testing, as long as the possible fathers aren't identical twins.
*** Unless the writer has ShownTheirWork and the father is a [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germline_mosaicism genetic mosaic]] at the germ line, which can render paternity tests inaccurate. Not quite broken yet, so long as the author makes the audience aware of this possibility and convinces them it's not a clumsy [=Handwave=].
* Modern day smartphones are Trope Breakers for people using paper maps and stopping to ask for directions.
** Many smartphones today come with internet and GPS and with apps such as Google Maps to quickly plug an address and get turn by turn directions where to go. The only reason to go back to paper maps is because either there's no cell signal at your location or the batteries in you smartphone are dead (highly unlikely if you're in a car unless you forgot to bring a car charger).
** Or, y'know, if you don't actually own one...
* Less-lethal weapons are a Trope Breaker for police and crime dramas ''but not'' police documentaries. [[LampshadeHanging Lampshaded]] by ''Series/PoliceCameraAction'' in the episode ''[[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Less Lethal Weapons]]'' in 2007. This is typically just plain ignored: When was the last time you saw anyone hit with a Taser or pepper spray on a cop show? It's still mostly guns and a few clubs in this world.
** ''Series/{{CSI}}'' manages to make the pepper spray and taser combo have lethal consequences in one episode due to a series of extenuating circumstances.
** It's also a point that in real life, police will ''never'' Taser a perp holding a gun (the twitching would cause them to pull the trigger), so more often than not, this is justified. Incapacitant sprays also have their own drawbacks; in an enclosed space or if the wind is blowing the wrong way, an incautious cop can find himself HoistByHisOwnPetard, and some of them carry a non-trivial risk of doing ''more'' harm than a well-placed whack from a baton.
* TheMusketeer pretty much became the SpiritualSuccessor to the KnightInShiningArmor. Several factors include: AdamSmithHatesYourGuts, where to be a knight you needed to be wealthy to afford and maintain your very expensive and heavy suit of armor and your warhorses whenever you go into battle. Knight charges were also easily countered by newer military tactics like pike and shot or HitAndRunTactics. And last but not least, as time went on, firearms became more accurate with greater muzzle velocity, making [[ArmorIsUseless armor useless]].
** France's [[PraetorianGuard Musketeers of the Guard]] were not all that different from their knight counterpart. Like knights, the Musketeers were also from the nobility and were the [[ElitesAreMoreGlamorous special forces]] during their time.
* Thirty years of changes in women's hairstyles are a pretty serious Trope Breaker for the BeehiveHairdo, ElderlyBlueHairedLady, and other outdated hairstyles. When was the last time you saw any woman with a beehive hairdo in real life? Other than Music/AmyWinehouse, that is. Indeed, the lampshading of beehive poster girl [[WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons Marge Simpson]] is constant -- but the hairdo is still used as a trope, implying a lot about Marge's character.
* Cell phones are a Trope Breaker for tropes involving {{Pay Phone}}s and {{Phone Booth}}s, as well as many other tropes. "I'm afraid Mr. Important is out of his office and can't be reached right now." There are also far more dead zones in fiction -- especially in slasher films -- than one would expect in the real world, as though the cellular phone is powered by [[PlotDrivenBreakdown the same thing running the Millennium Falcon]]... (See CellPhonesAreUseless.)
** The film ''Film/PhoneBooth'' was in DevelopmentHell for so long that phone booths were no longer relevant by the time it was finally made, so the writers had to jump through a few hoops to explain why the main character would be using one.
** Can possibly be justified when Mr. Important doesn't ''want'' to be reached, or the phone itself gets broken or lost somehow.
* The digital camera breaks many photography tropes, some of which are still seen once in a while. What's a "Polaroid" again? Now that our memory cards are around the 2-16 GB range, who "runs out of film" or "out of memory" when shooting stills? Heck, when was the last time you saw a still picture in black and white outside a daily or weekly newspaper for other than [[DeliberatelyMonochrome artistic reasons]]? So much for the sort of spy caper where the MacGuffin is "the negatives" of something incriminating (although this one got replaced by [[EnhanceButton "Zoom zoom enhance enhance."]]) On the other hand, "out of film" and "out of memory" are being replaced by "out of battery", which has the same effect and is more believable. However, with scientists having prototype batteries that can be charged in 10 seconds, this too may soon be broken.
** Several tabletop games involving vampires in the UrbanFantasy setting have had to make note that most digital cameras don't work by way of reflections, and therefore will capture a vampire on film. This presents many problems for game masters who place an emphasis on stories involving a {{Masquerade}}, ''TabletopGame/TheWorldOfDarkness'' in particular. This bleeds into Trope Breaker territory quite often, but just as often subverts it, since traditional cameras do work by way of reflection, and any PeriodPiece vampire campaign since digital media became the norm has had to pay more attention to the ''lack'' of digital photography. This may be one of the few cases of a Trope Breaker that operates solely on FridgeLogic. A few films have made note of this phenomenon, but the simple application of OurVampiresAreDifferent usually sweeps it under the rug.
** Note that Polaroid now makes ''digital'' Instamatic-type cameras, allowing you to take as many pictures as you want and just print certain ones out.
* The increasing social awareness and acceptance of single mothers and out-of-wedlock births have made tropes like StigmaticPregnancyEuphemism acceptable and believable only when stories are set in the distant past, or under very restricting types of characters. This is more obvious in soap operas produced in South America, since single motherhood [[DisappearedDad and absent fathers]] are so widespread there that few people can understand the drama in that.
* The Civil Rights Movement can be credited with helping eliminate {{egregious}} forms of the EthnicScrappy, along with many other sad and offensive ethnic tropes. On the other hand, it is hard to argue that other less-offensive but still [[UnfortunateImplications Unfortunately Implying]] tropes such as the TokenMinority and BlackBestFriend did not come into play as the result of attempts to be politically correct. JiveTurkey and the use of the N-word to be "edgy" also seem to have only increased since the 1960s.
* Certain StockShticks are rendered broken by technology, such as GPS doing away with the "man never asking for directions" schtick.
** Commercials for Tom-Tom have put a new spin on it, though, having guys ask "Mom-Mom" or "Doug-Doug" for directions instead of getting a Tom-Tom.
* Caller ID can break the stock plot of a person pretending to be calling from a place where he is not (though cell phones can sometimes help it work anyway). There are other ways to mask the number from which you're calling, but these never come up in the shows themselves.
** This was lampshaded by the frat-punk band Music/{{Blink 182}} in "What's My Age Again?", where the narrator's prank call is defeated by caller ID.
** Also in ''Webcomic/ChoppingBlock'', where Butch's attempt to replicate ''Film/WhenAStrangerCalls'' fails thanks to caller ID.
** Ditto for ''Franchise/{{Scream}} 2'', in which one of the first scenes features a dumbass trying to prank call [[FinalGirl Sidney]] and claiming to be Ghostface; she looks at the caller ID and tells him off. And it's been said that the first film triggered [[TheRedStapler a threefold spike]] in the adoption of caller ID systems.
* TheGreatPoliticsMessUp was a big one. Tropes affected:
** The entire SpyFiction genre: TheWarOnTerror just isn't the same. No more high-tech heroes fighting high-tech enemies. No more [[SensualSlavs mysterious, alluring women with Slavic accents]].
** DirtyCommunists: Obviously. However, RedScare paranoia can be replaced with Islamic terrorism paranoia in a pinch. See MistakenForTerrorist.
** ANuclearError: Still possible, but doesn't have the punch it used to. China and North Korea might be substituted for Russia nowadays, and the latter might in turn be substituted for the former. This would really only work if North Korea were portrayed as much more powerful than it really is, but Hollywood doesn't seem to have a problem with that.
** CommieLand: Well, there's still Cuba and North Korea. And kinda-sorta-not-really China, Vietnam, and Laos. Belarus has the traditional flavor of this trope, even if it's not officially communist anymore.
*** DefectorFromCommieLand: Possible with Cuba, North Korea or maybe China, but even then not as relevant without the Cold War to drive things. The Korean DMZ can replace the IronCurtain.
** RussianReversal: Should be broken, [[UndeadHorseTrope but isn't for some reason]].
** Any EnemyMine plot where Americans and Soviets have to work together against a common enemy. So far, no War on Terror equivalent has sprung up, since a terrorist is a VillainByDefault, while [[TheManFromUNCLE Ilya Kuryakin]] is just a guy on the other side.
** WorldWarIII: That's not to say there couldn't be another global war, but the battle lines used to be drawn and everyone knew which countries would be on which side. All that was needed was a match to light the fuse. Now everything has to be contrived from scratch. And really, it's just not a fear on anybody's mind anymore.
** Generally, any plot in which {{Eagleland}} has an equal WorthyOpponent. China is the most obvious replacement, but you better not make them look too bad or your movie will get BannedInChina, and that's a pretty lucrative market.
** RenegadeRussian and MakeTheBearAngryAgain sprang up as excuses to make Cold War tropes usable again, but they too have become fairly antiquated.
* JapanTakesOverTheWorld killed off forever the stereotype that the [[MadeInCountryX Japanese produce inferior technology]] (e.g., Creator/WoodyAllen shouting "Goddamn Japanese model!" in ''{{Sleeper}}'').
** And the collapse of the yen and the Japanese stock markets in [[TheNineties the early nineties]] made a serious dent in JapanTakesOverTheWorld. By the time the Japanese economy recovered, it was ChinaTakesOverTheWorld instead.
* Coeducational colleges and dorms killed off the CollegeWidow.
* Modern medical science in the developed world has, for the most part, done in the IncurableCoughOfDeath, and DeathByChildbirth, or [[UndeadHorseTrope so one would think]]; many sentimentalist writers didn't get the memo.
** Ignoring period pieces or anything set outside of the industrialized world, as many pathogens develop resistances, incidences of bacterial septic shock and resistant TB are on the rise. If RealLifeWritesThePlot, these may become {{Cyclic Trope}}s. [[NightmareFuel Sleep tight]].
* The current economic slump, credit crunch, and dismal job market just might be a Trope Breaker for BasementDweller, as more and more college grads have no other choice, even as they actively search for work. However, since the economy rotates between periods of good and bad, this is more of a CyclicTrope than a DiscreditedTrope or DeadHorseTrope, and still TruthInTelevision.
** To clarify, while college graduates are still arranging living situations with their parents as often as before, if not more due to the changes in the economy, the trope characterizing those who do as anti-social or slackers is fading away.
* More militaries have become professional volunteer forces, doing away with DraftDodging.
** However, should things go horribly wrong in some way or another, just about all of those countries would reinstate drafting or conscription.
* The feminist movement was supposed to be a Trope Breaker for many tropes, including DistressedDamsel, ScreamingWoman, StayInTheKitchen, HystericalWoman, and MonsterMisogyny, but a lot of these are [[UndeadHorseTrope too ingrained to vanish so easily]], and still crop up, often in the form of the FauxActionGirl. It also made the tropes StrawFeminist and RealWomenNeverWearDresses.
* Artificial insemination smashes a lot of SexTropes to little bits by making sex no longer necessary to produce kids. For instance, AllLesbiansWantKids and OnlyYouCanRepopulateMyRace no longer require [[IKEAErotica inserting tab A into slot B]] with all the potential angst this might involve. Of course, the suggestion almost never comes up except as FridgeLogic.
** On the other hand, the man might have objections to making deposits at the sperm bank.
** The old fashioned way is a heck of a lot cheaper, too.
* UsefulNotes/WorldWarII is, at least in the West, simultaneously the Trope Breaker for [[OnceAcceptableTargets anti-semitism]] and [[TheEugenicist eugenics]].
** And made white supremacy a bit embarrassing in the United States. In fact, you could argue that World War II severely wounded the racism-related tropes that the Civil Rights Movement finished off twenty years later.
*** This definitely happened with JackieRobinson. Followers of baseball assumed the first black player in UsefulNotes/{{Baseball}} would be a Negro Leaguer well-known to white fans, and with a history of performance against white teams, such as Josh Gibson or Satchel Paige. Robinson was not well known at the time. But Branch Rickey knew he needed someone with the right mindset, and Robinson's exemplary performance as an officer in WWII (which included taking a stand against some racist actions) helped convince Rickey that Robinson was the right man for the job.
** JapaneseSpirit took a massive hit during UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, breaking the Japanese military's sense of invulnerability and making the populace question the value of the MartyrdomCulture. There are still traces of it in everyday society and media, though.
* Most action stories that depend on "Alice has to stop Bob from getting the information back to his superiors/client" or "Alice has to get the information back to her superiors/client despite Bob trying to stop her" are difficult to pull off thanks to modern technology, unless we're talking a '''lot''' of data. Given current Internet connection speeds, we're talking file sizes in at least the tens of gigabytes, and this will only go up as connections improve.
** This has caused a shift to emphasize the difficulty in acquiring the information in the first place, or acquiring 'proof' of the villain's actions, without being detected. Also, keep in mind that many computers with highly sensitive information are configured to only transmit within private trusted networks, or even intentionally prevented from any network communication.
* The {{Slurpasaur}} was common in the days when low budget B-movies forced directors to come up with ''some'' way of portraying dinosaurs, however silly it might look. Thanks to advances in special effects technology, particularly with CGI, this became less of a problem. Granted, there may still be SpecialEffectsFailure thanks to ConspicuousCGI, but even then, the audience will still be able to recognize the on-screen creature as a ''TyrannosaurusRex'' and not a dressed-up iguana.
* TheInternetIsForPorn: The Internet broke the demand for PoorMansPorn. As well as {{Porn Stash}}es for anyone born after 1970. Though one could argue the Porn Stash has simply moved to hard drives, in nested folders marked "Research."
** The Internet also put the final nail in the coffin for adult theaters, which were already brought nearly to extinction by home videotape players.
** The physical PornStash trope is still in use in anime and manga, mostly due to harsher Japanese online laws.
* The IndustrialRevolution was the Trope Breaker for TextileWorkIsFeminine, though it was a gradual process -- first spinning and weaving, and carding, then much of the sewing, etc.
* While ''GoneWithTheWind'' 's "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" did not kill off GoshDangItToHeck, it ensured that adult characters using euphemistic profanities in the movies could never quite be taken seriously anymore.
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