A "Snowclone" is a form of trope title that relies on imitating an older title's form with only a small modification. Usually this modification amounts to replacing a word or making a pun.
For example, this very page is a snowclone
of the Everything's Better With Indexes
series of tropes. This, of course
, is an instance of Hypocritical Humor
If your trope title completely relies on the idea that "surely, everyone
read that other page- I just have to make a pun with it", you should scrap it in favor of something clearer. Always assume that yours will be the first page on the Wiki that someone reads. Given that obscure cultural references are frowned upon, obscure in-jokes originating from the wiki are probably not that much of a good idea either. Here are some examples of it not working:
Commonly Problematic Snowclones
As you may have noticed, we have some titles that people very frequently
try to make snowclones of, almost enough for the practice to become a Discredited Trope
in and of itself. Be careful with these!
- What Do You Mean, It's Not An X?: This family of tropes is about when something is played up as X, but is not really X. The "not really X" part, unfortunately, expanded in scope to include various sub-concepts and now it's impossible to tell which one of them the snowclone is referencing (are the writers aware of the discrepancy? If they are, are they playing the contrast for laughs or actually trying to get the audience to go "whoa, awesome"?).
- Chekhov's X: This family includes tropes about elements that are introduced early to become important later. If what you're suggesting is this sort of trope, clearly explain what differentiates it from a generic Chekhov's Gun and make sure that it actually needs its own trope. If the difference comes down to "Chekhov's Hat- a Chekhov's Gun that happens to be a hat", for instance, then it probably doesn't.
- Everything's Better With X: This family is about things that are gratuitously inserted into works because their mere existence makes it more awesome; it's not just for works with X in them, that's Not a Trope.
- What Measure Is an X: This family of tropes is about characters of type X giving off a "this is a nobody and you should not care about them" vibe to some degree, as portrayed in the work or as perceived by the fans. Usually this has to do with them not living up to some standard that plays to a form of Wish Fulfillment. It's suffered a lot of Trope Decay, so don't just slap something random or grammatically inappropriate instead of the X there just because it sounds vaguely related to your idea of the trope.
- Screw X I have Y: This is pretty much Exactly What It Says on the Tin, and as such it works very well (e.g. Screw the Rules, I Have Money!). The problem starts when the X and the Y mutate into metaphors and it's not entirely clear anymore what is being screwed, for what reason, in what sense does the person doing the screwing "have" the Y and what part the Y plays in the screwing of the X. Usually at that point it becomes clear that the trope is being shoehorned into a snowclone and you should start looking for a better title.
- Schrödinger's X: Based on the famous thought experiment, these are about cases where one choice can retroactively change whether something was true or false all along, so until then, it is both true and false at the same time. These can only happen in interactive fiction (or in passive media, if it is based on the writer's choices caused by audience reaction). DO NOT use it for "until something happens, it might turn out either ways". That's just plain, old, obviously logical uncertainity.
- X Effect: When it's not about status, sound or special effects, it is often hard to search for the trope when X is a work or a character. It can also be that there are many traits that the X has which do not fit the trope. Several formerly X Effect tropes have already been renamed.
Snowclones that work
Despite all common sense, there are some naming patterns that just work. We're not sure why. We're not sure how, but experience in the TRS and in the wild on the wiki just proves that against all common sense, they're better than the alternative.
- Our X Are Different: This family of tropes focuses on how certain fantasy creatures are portrayed differently by each work that uses them; it is not a place to simply list works that include creature X. For that reason, not using the snowclone seems to cause trope decay and X Just X when we've studied the tropes. Despite being a snowclone, the tropes work better with the naming pattern than without it. This is not true for variations on the pattern that don't use the word "different".
- Good X, Evil X: This trope is about showing good and evil variations of tropes. The snowclones tend to be clear about the trope (due to the aptness), and misuse tends to be prevented.