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Action Adventure Tropes
Elements used for exciting sequences, or primarily only found in stories about adventure.
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    A 
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade
    A blade that is somehow so sharp that it can cut through almost anything, and never get dull.
  • Acoustic License
    Cool dialogue will always be heard above the din of car chases and explosions.
  • Acquired Poison Immunity
    The development of immunity to a particular drug or poison by taking small doses for a long time.
  • Acrophobic Bird
    When escaping danger, a character who can fly will never think about flying up.
  • Action Dress Rip
    When an Action Girl finds herself in a dress, she'll rip it before going into a situation that actually requires action.
  • Action Mom
    When someone's mother gets in on the action.
  • Action Dad
    Male equivalent of the Action Mom
  • Action-Hogging Opening
    When an action adventure show has more action of a higher quality in the opening sequence than in an entire episode.
  • Action Insurance Gag
    Lampshading the explosive or destructive sequences in action-oriented works by way of reference to insurance or mortgage payments
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene
    That bit where you actually watch the actors instead of the special effects.
  • Adrenaline Makeover
    When a shy or frumpy girl is embroiled in an adventure, by the end of it she has come out of her shell and often gotten sexier and/or more badass.
  • After-Action Healing Drama
    When bad, even possibly lethal injuries, are treated in a dramatic scene after one of heavy action.
  • After-Action Patchup
    When the injured hero gets his injuries treated in a quiet scene after one of heavy action.
  • Air-Vent Passageway
    When heroes find themselves trapped in a room with all doors and windows locked, the quickest exit is always through the ventilation duct.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us
    Where the heroes' home base is attacked.
  • Almost Out of Oxygen
    Imminent death by suffocation is always a good way to ratchet up the tension.
  • Aloof Ally
    An ally who is mistrustful or can't be bothered with your group, preferring to do things on their own; he generally joins up at some point, though.
  • Always a Bigger Fish
    Where the heroes are saved from a scary monster by a scarier monster.
  • Always on Duty
    No matter what time of day or night, the main cast are always the ones on duty, ready to deal with problems.
  • Always Save the Girl
    Where the hero values the life of their love interest over absolutely everything else, often including the rest of the world.
  • America Saves the Day
    Aliens are threatening the entire world - but it's up to the USA to beat them!
  • An Ass Kicking Christmas
    The habit of some action works to take place around Christmas time.
  • And Mission Control Rejoiced
    When Mission Control is seriously impressed by the hero's actions.
  • The Anticipator
    When a character dramatically expects or waits for another to sneak up on them.

    B 
  • Badass Driver
    These guys can pull things behind the wheel that you'd love to be able to do (though not necessarily to be in the passenger's seat at the time).
  • Bad-Guy Bar
    This is the place where bad guys hang out to plot their nefarious deeds.
  • Bad Habits
    Where heroes or villains dress up as a religious figure as part of a disguise.
  • The Bait
    The character used to draw out the bad guys for a trap. Often the Butt Monkey's job.
  • Band of Brothers
    The danger of the situation has forged a friendship between the Heroes and his companions that transcends the usual meaning of the word.
  • Banging for Help
    A trapped character does this to attract attention from people outside.
  • Bar Slide
    The bartender slides the cup, mug or shot glass across the bar to a patron.
  • Barrier-Busting Blow
    A super-strong character or monster just punches through a door or wall to reach the victim on the other side.
  • Bathroom Break-Out
    A character makes his escape by ducking into the John.
  • Big Damn Heroes
    The heroic swoop to save the day just in the nick of time.
  • Big Heroic Run
    In which the hero runs at full tilt to save the day or fulfill his goals, usually scored with a rousing fanfare.
  • Blaxploitation
    A type of action movie made in the 1970s and '80s where the heroes are always black.
  • Blaxploitation Parody
    Making fun of the Blaxploitation genre.
  • Bloodless Carnage
    When someone is shot, they show no wounds or blood, they just crumple up and fall on the floor.
  • Bluff the Impostor
    You think someone is acting like an impostor, so you say something to them with an erroneous fact, and see if they react to it.
  • Bodybag Trick
    When a character hides in a bodybag and is wheeled into a hospital or other facility, then gets out and does his/her mission.
  • Bodyguard Babes
    Where the most elite defenders of the Big Bad are exclusively female warriors.
  • Bold Explorer
    A person whose actions usually lead to action and adventure.
  • Bolivian Army Ending
    The ending of an episode, season, character arc, or especially entire series that ends in an open-ended tragedy.
  • Bomb Disposal
    Techniques are used to dispose of bombs, regardless if it was disarmed or not.
  • Bombers on the Screen
    A real-time computer map is used, showing the positions of military units (or possibly a physical map with model units).
  • Bombproof Appliance
    When a bomb is going to go off indoors, the hero hides in a bathtub or fridge.
  • Bond One-Liner
    A pithy line said by the hero just after he's killed a bad guy.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity
    When a villain fails to kill the hero when they have him cornered or captured.
  • Bookcase Passage
    A secret passage is hidden behind a bookcase or triggered by the removal or manipulation of a book in a bookcase.
  • Boomerang Comeback
    The thrown weapon that you thought missed its target is coming back around for a second go.
  • Bottled Heroic Resolve
    A drug or potion to allow severely injured heroes to get back on their feet and finish off the bad guy.
  • Bound and Gagged
    Don't you hate it when you get all tied up with things?
  • Break Out the Museum Piece
    When the modern weaponry or equipment has been destroyed or taken away, the heroes resort to outdated stuff to do the job.
  • Breaking the Bonds
    Heroes showing off their power by busting out of chains, ropes or similar restraints.
  • Break the Badass
    When you want to show that the situation is horrible, make sure your toughest character is scared!
  • Bring News Back
    Where a character must go back in person (often through long, dangerous roads) to deliver important news.
  • Bullet Catch
    Catching bullets translates into instant Badass.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield
    Grab a nearby Mook and let him block bullets while you head for safety.

    C 
  • Cable-Car Action Sequence
    A fight aboard, or atop, a moving gondola at great height.
  • Cacophony Cover Up
    Remain unheard thanks to a nearby louder noise.
  • Can't Bathe Without a Weapon
    The hero(ine) may need to undress to take a bath, but won't ever get caught without a weapon.
  • Captured By Cannibals
    Can the heroes escape in time to avoid becoming the main course?
  • Car Cushion
    The higher you are falling from, the more likely it is that a car will be there when you land.
  • Carnival of Killers
    When a series of assassins goes after the hero, either from a bounty offer or hired by the villain.
  • Casual Danger Dialog
    Where heroes in danger will crack jokes or speak casually rather than gibbering in terror.
  • Catch a Falling Star
    If the hero falls from too high a point, he will inevitably be rescued.
  • Caught in a Snare
    Exactly what it looks like — the hero or someone else gets caught in a tree snare or other boobytrap.
  • Cave Mouth
    When a cave's mouth looks like an actual mouth, usually that of a monster.
  • The Cavalry
    Where the heroes are saved in the last minute by other characters.
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late
    ...and usually only after the hero has dealt with the threat that needed their attention.
  • Cavalry Betrayal
    Where apparent rescuers turn out to be actually siding with the villain.
  • Cavalry Refusal
    Where potential rescuers refuse to help the heroes.
  • Ceiling Cling
    A character avoids pursuit or detection by hanging from the ceiling of the room or hallway.
  • The Centerpiece Spectacular
    An exciting set piece staged in Act 2 of a work to keep the audience excited enough to pay attention through the entire work.
  • The Chain of Harm
    Any time a hero stops a villain's plans, and he takes it out, not on the hero or his friends, but on innocent bystanders or "weaker" people.
  • Chekhov's Exhibit
    A standby of all Caper films, or any other action story where a museum is involved.
  • Cigar Fuse Lighting
    A Badass uses his cigar to light the fuse on a stick of dynamite.
  • Clean Cut
    Blades slice clean through bodies and other things, with no jagged edges or thick wounds, and can slice any body part easily.
  • Clifftop Caterwauling
    A creature, character, hero, villain... stands at the edge of a cliff and lets loose a roar to the heavens.
  • Climbing the Cliffs of Insanity
    Where the hero must climb an insanely tall cliff to proceed.
  • Climb, Slip, Hang, Climb
    The hero has to climb a surface that really isn't cooperating.
  • Clipboard of Authority
    The hero can get in anywhere if he only holds one.
  • Cloak & Dagger
    A fictional spy agency full of glamorous secret agents, which has no relationship to real-life agencies.
  • Cobweb Jungle
    Any subterranean area will be full of curtains of spider webs.
  • Colossus Climb
    The smaller character attacks the bigger character by climbing his body to attack a vulnerable spot.
  • Concert Climax
    When the climax of the work takes place around some big public event such as a concert, performance, sporting event, etc.
  • Commie Nazis
    When Fascists and Communists are conflated into one big oppressive mass.
  • Conspicuous Trenchcoat
    An "evil" or out-of-the-ordinary character can always be identified by his concealing trenchcoat, fedora and occasionally dark glasses.
  • Contract on the Hitman
    A professional killer suddenly finds himself being hunted by the very organization he works for.
  • Convenient Cranny
    The heroes need to hide from something. That's why they happen to stumble upon a hidden space.
  • Convenient Enemy Base
    If the heroes crash-land or shipwreck while on a mission against a powerful enemy, they will almost always wash up very close to that enemy's hidden headquarters.
  • Convenient Escape Boat
    When escaping anywhere near a body of water, there will be a boat leaving the harbour the heroes can jump onto
  • Conveniently-Placed Sharp Thing
    Whenever someone is tied up, the bad guys always tend to leave something sharp in the room that the victim can use to cut herself free.
  • Conveniently Timed Attack From Behind
    The hero is helpless and about to be killed, when the bad guy is taken out by an attack from behind just in time.
  • Conveniently Timed Guard
    The heroes have just finished their infiltration, but on their way out a guard sees them and sounds the alarm.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment
    Where the hero is tortured via some ridiculous method, like tickling or opera music.
  • Cuffs Off, Rub Wrists
    Luckily, only mild discomfort remains.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle
    An epic, one-sided ass-kicking where the kicked doesn't stand a chance.
  • Curbstomp Cushion
    The single thing that sweetens the defeat in an epic, one-sided ass-kicking somewhat.
  • Cyanide Pill
    Given to secret agents in case they're ever captured.
  • Cycle of Revenge
    After you get your revenge, your target's friends and family will vow revenge on you... and the cycle continues.

    D 
  • Dangerously Close Shave
    Where the barber ends up cutting your throat with his razor (or almost doing so).
  • Dare to Be Badass
    The Hero is called upon to step up to the plate and be awesome.
  • Darkened Building Shootout
    A classic denouement - the hero and villain have a shootout in a darkened building, with a suitably suspenseful final shot.
  • The Day of Reckoning
    The day when all the prophecies and plans come to a head in a massive final confrontation.
  • Deadly Gas
    Here's a hint: Don't get hit by it.
  • Dead Man Switch
    A backup plan in case of untimely death or incapacitation, used as a threat to protect the holder.
  • Dead Man's Trigger Finger
    A character wildly fires a burst of ammunition immediately after being shot.
  • Dead Foot Leadfoot
    The driver of a vehicle is killed; immediately, his foot gets stuck on the gas pedal, causing the car to speed out of control.
  • Death Course
    A gauntlet filled with enemies and/or booby traps that the hero character has to pass through.
  • Decoy Hiding Place
    An obvious hiding place is made visible to the pursuer, while the pursued actually escapes via some other means.
  • Deep Cover Agent
    Someone who lives a perfectly normal life for a long time, all the while being a mole or spy for another government or organization.
  • Defcon Five
    Used to refer to the highest state of alert (it's actually the lowest stage).
  • Delivery Guy Infiltration
    If you want to get into the enemy base, just pose as a delivery guy.
  • Den of Iniquity
    A room in the Evil Overlord's lair where the mooks go to indulge their debauched pleasures.
  • Diagnosis From Dr. Badass
    When the character gives a detailed accounting of how he's hurt, or is hurting another.
  • Diner Brawl
    The characters find themselves getting into a fight in a Greasy Spoon.
  • Dirt Forcefield
    The conspicuous lack of grime, dirt, or bruises on actors, especially those in action sequences.
  • Dish Dash
    A character has to dash madly around a room catching stacks of falling breakable items before they hit the floor and smash.
  • Disney Death
    The hero appears to have suffered a fatal wound during the final battle, only to get up a few moments later. VERY common in family action movies.
  • Ditch the Bodyguards
    How else are you going to have a proper adventure?
  • Dog Pile of Doom
    Where large numbers of mooks bring you down by jumping on top of you and physically dragging you to the ground.
  • Door of Doom
    It's a very imposing door, you just know it's not just a collection of knobs and hinges, and going through is a Big Decision.
  • Dragons Up the Yin Yang
    Any work featuring martial arts or Eastern mysticism will have either an Eastern dragon or a Yin/Yang symbol somewhere.
  • Drama Bomb Finale
    An otherwise comedic story trying its hand at a dramatic moment near the show's last episode or two, totally out of left field.
  • Dressing as the Enemy
    Where the hero dresses up in a face-concealing suit of armor stolen from the enemy to infiltrate their base.
  • Drool Hello
    The first inkling that a monster is above you? That yucky liquid splashing over your shoulders...
  • Dungeon Bypass
    Where heroes just blast through or over that complicated maze or trial that the villain has set up, rather than actually solving it.
  • Dungeon Crawling
    The act of exploring a dungeon while looking for treasure, avoiding traps, and beating off monsters.
  • Durable Deathtrap
    The ruins are ancient, but damn if those giant guillotine blades aren't as sharp as the day they were made!
  • Dye or Die
    Where a secret agent has to dye his or her hair to avoid detection.

    E 

    F 

    G 

    H 
  • Hands Off My Fluffy
    Where the heroes attack a monster who looks like it's accosting a girl, when it turns out the monster is the girl's pet.
  • Harmless Freezing
    A character is frozen solid, and then unfreezes with no adverse effects.
  • Hassle-Free Hotwire
    Anybody can hotwire a car: just open a random cover, grab two wires and stick them together!
  • Hero Stole My Bike
    A hero in a hurry grabs somebody else's car or bike to aid in his chase scene.
  • Heroes R Us
    A large philanthropic organization whose "job" is, as close as anyone can tell, to fund heroes.
  • Heroes Unlimited
    A Story Arc or season which features an expansion of the general cast.
  • Heroic BSOD
    An earth-shattering revelation or horrible event affects the hero, leaving him either mentally shut down out of shock, or subject to a violent outburst.
  • Heroic Safe Mode
    An earth-shattering revelation or horrible event affects the hero, causing him to flea or fight as an automatic response.
  • Hey, Catch!
    A character who throws something to another character to make him catch it, often to distract him.
  • Hey, Wait!
    In the heart of enemy territory, the hero narrowly escapes detection when they're told something like "your shoe is untied".
  • "Hey, You!" Haymaker
    Tap your opponent on the back, and when he turns around, punch him in the face.
  • High Dive Escape
    The hero or villain escapes pursuers by making a seemingly-suicidal jump off something very high.
  • Hitchhiker Heroes
    A band of warriors or (more commonly) would-be warriors who join up with The Hero over the course of his journey.
  • Hollywood Acid
    Acid in Hollywood movies does not act exactly like real acid would, and is often much more dangerous.
  • Hollywood CB
    The radios always work perfectly, you talk only to the person you're addressing, and you can interrupt people. Especially the bad guys.
  • Hollywood Fire
    Fire in Hollywood movies does not act exactly like real fire would, and is not quite as dangerous.
  • Hollywood Healing
    No matter how bad he's injured, the hero never ends up with permanent scars.
  • Hollywood Natives
    Someone has to live in wherever it is the protagonists are visiting.
  • Honor Among Thieves
    Thieves turn out to be remarkably honorable fellows in fiction, especially amongst other thieves.
  • Hope Spot
    A glimmer of hope for the hero which is quickly dashed.
  • How Do I Shot Web?
    Where a character has to figure out how to use his newly-obtained superpowers.
  • Human Chess
    Chess played where the pieces are actual people... sometimes to the death.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game
    Where the villains formally hunt the heroes.

    I 
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten
    The Bad Guys challenge someone (usually the hero pretending to be a Bad Guy) to do something evil to prove his evilness.
  • I Know Mortal Kombat
    A character acquires a needed skill, not by ever actually learning that skill, but by playing a video game which simulated that skill.
  • Imminent Danger Clue
    A seemingly mundane detail of the setting indicates that a character has just walked into a trap; the danger will come into play shortly after the character realizes it exists.
  • I Need No Ladders
    Where a character decides to screw taking the stairs, because everything's better with epic jumps.
  • I Need You Stronger
    The Big Bad lets the heroes continue on their quest, despite being more than capable of wiping them out, because they're not strong enough to suit his purposes yet.
  • Innocuously Important Episode
    A seemingly weak episode early in a Story Arc that subtly sets events in motion that lead to a big payoff later on.
  • Implausible Fencing Powers
    Where swordsmen can do insane things with their swords, like deflecting bullets or cutting clothes to pieces without touching skin.
  • Impossible Mission Collapse
    An elaborate, high-risk plan is concocted by the good guys, we hear all the planning, and then it never gets past step one.
  • Impressive Pyrotechnics
    Explosions always look the same, even when the materials combusting shouldn't explode that way.
  • Improbable Cover
    When a character leaps behind something to escape an explosion, ducks to avoid a rolling wall of flame, or closes a door on an avalanche.
  • Improvised Parachute
    What a character uses to slow a great fall when a real parachute is not available.
  • Improvised Zipline
    When a character really needs to rappel down a building but doesn't have a rope, he'll improvise one.
  • Indy Escape
    The character is chased down a tunnel by something very large, clich?y a boulder or a giant monster.
  • Indy Hat Roll
    A character makes his way under a vertically closing door Just in Time by rolling under it.
  • Indy Ploy
    There is no plan. The hero is just plain winging it.
  • Ineffectual Death Threats
    Characters make death threats that they never seem to carry out.
  • Inevitable Waterfall
    If a character is drifting on a raft or log along a river, they will fall down a waterfall. No exceptions.
  • Infant Immortality
    Even the worst villains are not allowed to kill children or infants.
  • Instant Knots
    Where heroes can make a rope, whip, chain or Grappling-Hook Pistol wrap itself around a distant object securely.
  • Instrument of Murder
    A character who has a musical instrument that doubles as a deadly weapon.
  • Involuntary Group Split
    The destruction of a structure separates the characters from each other.

    J 
  • Juggle Fu
    Someone can throw an object in the air, perform some action sequence while it is airborne, then catch it on its way down.
  • Just a Kid
    The young hero meets a series of dismissive characters who assume ineptness because (wait for it)? "You're just a kid."
  • Just Between You and Me
    Villains will pause to give a monologue to the heroes detailing their entire plot.

    K 
  • Katanas Are Just Better
    I slice you! Hiii-yaa!
  • Keep Away
    The game of tossing an object around in a group to keep it away from someone else.
  • Kill Steal
    Taking a kill someone else was about to make.
  • Kinda Busy Here
    When a cell phone rings at an inconvenient time, like when you're in a gunfight.
  • Kitchen Chase
    The hero runs though a kitchen to escape the bad guys.

    L 
  • Last Breath Bullet
    The bad guys have been defeated, but one of them pulls off a shot with their last breath, often killing one of the heroes before dying.
  • Last Villain Stand
    The main bad guy decides to take a one man stand against the heroes when he's got no one left to fight for him.
  • Latex Perfection
    A latex mask so perfect that it is impossible to tell the wearer from the person he is impersonating until the moment he pulls off his face.
  • Law Enforcement, Inc.
    A self-funded, self-supporting private agency which can act as a legal authority and law enforcement power, or as an official military outfit.
  • Let's Dance
    A common Pre Ass Kicking One Liner.
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen
    No matter how much they hate each other, the two opponents will stick by the rules in their fight.
  • Let's Get Dangerous
    A moment in the story when the quirky, eccentric supporting cast stop being quirky and eccentric and start demonstrating why you should respect your elders.
  • Let's Get Out of Here
    Time to bid a hasty retreat!
  • Let's You and Him Fight
    Where two heroes fight each other under mistaken pretenses.
  • Life or Limb Decision
    When a person is forced to make a terrible choice ? they need to remove one of their appendages in order to escape with their life.
  • Lighthearted Rematch
    Two heroes have fought each other for real stakes. When the story's over, they smile and have a rematch for fun's sake.
  • Line in the Sand
    Where a military leader offers his recruits a choice to stay and fight or flee (they usually stay).
  • Little Hero, Big War
    Where the fantasy hero is off having adventures while a war is going on in the background.
  • Little Stowaway
    Children secretly following the more serious heroes on their adventure.
  • Live-Action Escort Mission
    Where the heroes have to get someone (often a spoiled kid) from one place to another, and have to deal with his/her antics along the way.
  • Locking MacGyver In The Store Cupboard
    When good guys get locked in a cell, all of the equipment that they need to escape is in the cell with them.
  • Loser Has Your Back
    In an action scene, the last person alive other than the hero is the last person you'd expect.

    M 
  • Magnetic Hero
    A hero with such personal magnetism that he is capable of persuading others to join him in his quest.
  • Make Room For The New Plot
    When one important plot element is abruptly resolved so that the characters can combat a more immediate, dangerous conflict instead.
  • Mangst
    Quiet, internal angsting done by real men and bad-asses.
  • The Man Is Keeping Us Down
    The heroes have almost won, but end up failing due to factors outside their control, often societal in nature.
  • Man on Fire
    Aaaaahhhhh! I'm on fire!
  • Marked Bullet
    A bullet with special markings or words on it. Often the name of someone a character wants dead.
  • Matchlight Danger Revelation
    Two animated characters are in pitch-black darkness; one strikes a match, revealing they are in an incredibly dangerous place or situation.
  • Maximum Fun Chamber
    An unspecified threat so awful that mere mention of it makes the strong go pale and the weak-hearted clutch their chest.
  • The Meddling Kids Are Useless
    The heroes get into a lot of danger and excitement, but in the end they don't actually stop the villain or accomplish anything directly.
  • Menacing Stroll
    The lithe, athletic walk of the perennial badass.
  • Mexican Standoff
    A stalemate where everyone has a weapon pointed at them.
  • Midair Repair
    Where a malfunctioning, falling aircraft can be fixed by the mechanic in midair, before it hits the ground.
  • Minion Maracas
    When somebody who would not otherwise be expected to raise somebody else off the ground, does so under the influence of a strong emotion, and shakes them in mid-air to mark their point.
  • Misfit Mobilization Moment
    When a dysfunctional group of losers transforms into a well-oiled machine.
  • Mission Briefing
    The briefing before a mission, of whatever form.
  • Mistaken for Badass
    A bumbling, perfectly normal Nice Guy who gets mixed up in something dangerous, and by sheer luck does the sort of things that convinces everyone he must be insanely badass.
  • Mistaken for Spies
    When the heroes arrive in a town just as something nasty happens, they will inevitably be accused of it and thrown in jail.
  • Monumental Battle
    Somehow, a disproportionate number of fictional fights break out at easily-recognized national monuments and landmarks around the world.
  • Monumental Damage
    Where villains or aliens attack major landmarks.
  • Monumental Damage Resistance
    Where the villains or aliens attacking the major landmarks leave some landmarks standing.
  • Mucking In The Mud
    You know that when you see a mudpit or a mud bog, you can go through it. Just be aware that there are only a few safe spots, and there are some swamps in which you can go too deep...
  • Musical Trigger
    A specific musical cue not in the BGM, but in actual music being played by someone or something In-Universe serves as the trigger for some event.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong
    A person who may not like the policies of their country but will fight for it regardless.
  • My Name Is Inigo Montoya
    The character announces who they are, unprompted.
  • Myopic Architecture
    The way past the door is easier than it looks.

    N 
  • Nebulous Evil Organisation
    A vast, deep-pocketed machine with one apparent goal: The proliferation of evil across the globe, maybe with some personal profit on the side.
  • Nerf Arm
    Any logically less-than-lethal weapon which ends up being otherwise just as effective as its "real" equivalent.
  • Neutral Female
    When the hero and villain are fighting, the Distressed Damsel will just sit there and watch, or be ineffectual in what she tries to do.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero
    Where a hero's actions unwittingly make the situation worse rather than better.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain
    Where a villain's actions unwittingly make the situation better rather than worse.
  • Night Vision Goggles
    What would you use them to look at?
  • Nitro Express
    Hauling unstable explosives over dangerous terrain. What could possibly go wrong?
  • No Endor Holocaust
    When you blow up the giant monster/enemy base/teacup, it should cause untold damage to the places around it, but we never see such damage.
  • No Escape but Down
    When faced with the choice of getting captured by pursuers or jumping from a great height, chose the latter.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine
    When the hero is captured and, instead of throwing him in the dungeon, the villain treats him as a guest.
  • No FEMA Response
    A disaster has struck, but don't expect any incoming aid.
  • Non-Fatal Explosions
    Explosions don't cause concussion damage from the shockwave or rip you up with shrapnel... they just give you a little push.
  • Nonviolent Initial Confrontation
    Sometimes you really do want to ask questions first.
  • No One Should Survive That
    When a character survives a situation that should by all accounts have been lethal, often through sheer luck or coincidence.
  • No One Gets Left Behind
    The hero refuses to leave a wounded or captured comrade behind.
  • No OSHA Compliance
    Bases and complexes have all kinds of insanely dangerous walkways and areas, because they're cool and make for nail-biting suspense sequences.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup
    Any dangerous device or technology owned by a villain is one-of-a-kind; there are no design notes, no prototypes, and no backup copies.
  • Normally, I Would Be Dead Now
    Where somebody survives a blow or wound that, even by Hollywood standards, should have killed them, and keeps fighting.
  • Not in This for Your Revolution
    A character is on a quest that could save the world, but he doesn't care about that; he's only in it for personal reasons.
  • Not Worth Killing
    The averagely-skilled friends of the highly-skilled hero survive their encounter with the Big Bad or Dragon because the bad guy couldn't be bothered to finish them off.
  • Now It's My Turn
    Where one character survives what has been built up as a nasty attack, grins, and unleashes a counterattack.
  • A Nuclear Error
    Where a work takes creative liberties regarding nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons policy.

    O 
  • Obstacle Exposition
    After having outlined the goal for the episode, Mr. Exposition will describe a list of all the insurmountable obstacles that stand in the way of that goal.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse
    Where the bad guy forces the good guy into doing something via threats, kidnapping or blackmail.
  • Ominous Walk
    A villain, or Anti-Hero, will have an enemy at their mercy and instead of immediately shooting them, they'll slowly walk towards them.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You
    Contriving to make it all about these two guys, the good guy and the bad guy.
  • One-Dimensional Thinking
    TV characters, when being chased by anything that is limited to one direction (e.g. a boulder) never just step out of its path. They always run straight ahead and try to outrun it.
  • One Riot, One Ranger
    Where the government sends in only one man to do a job that rightfully a whole squad or army should do.
  • One True Sequence
    Where there is a set of objects or objectives to obtain, the good and bad guys will always end up fighting over the same one at the same time.
  • Only I Can Kill Him
    Rule of Drama: Only the main character can kill the Big Bad. Anyone else who tries will be curb stomped.
  • Open Says Me
    When met with an unyielding door lock, one of the heroes will just blast it off or break down the door.
  • Opt Out
    Where a character decides not to take part in the climactic final battle and leaves.
  • Out-of-Character Alert
    The villain has captured someone and sends a message in their name to their family or friends. However, something in the message is obviously something that the capturee would never have written.
  • Out of Sight, Out of Mind
    Where something is "destroyed" by just throwing it off-screen.
  • Outrun the Fireball
    Warning: Not recommended for those of us actually occupying real life.
  • Outside Ride
    Where somebody hops on the top or side of a car as it's moving.

    P 
  • Packed Hero
    A Conveyor Belt-O-Doom run results in the hero passing out the other end as a package.
  • Paying For The Action Scene
    A character gets into a fight in a private establishment and pays for the mess he/she left behind.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise
    An extremely transparent disguise that anybody in their right mind could see through, yet the on-screen characters can't.
  • Le Parkour
    A discipline which emphasizes getting from point A to point B in a straight line, even if that line goes around, under, or over obstacles. It's also really cool.
  • Passing the Torch
    The Hero formally hands over his heroing business to a new guy.
  • Percussive Prevention
    Stopping someone from doing something stupid by knocking them out and then doing it yourself.
  • PG Explosives
    When something explodes, the violence remains but all the blood and gore is removed.
  • Pin-Pulling Teeth
    Few things are more badass than using your teeth to yank the pin from a grenade before tossing.
  • Plucky Middie
    A protagonist in a story set aboard a sailing ship who's a young, brave teenager sailing into adventure.
  • Pit Trap
    A hole in the ground that's somehow covered up so as to blend in with the surrounding terrain.
  • Plummet Perspective
    It's a long way down if the hero falls.
  • Powder Trail
    A trail of gunpowder left on the ground as a makeshift fuse to blow up stuff.
  • Pre-Asskicking Mutter
    Villain got you by the throat? Just try to say something, they'll ease up so you can clarify and kick their ass!
  • The Precarious Ledge
    A character moves along a very high ledge to get from point A to point B.
  • The Precious, Precious Car
    A jerk has a car which he loves and absolutely refuses to let anyone touch. It will either be stolen, destroyed, or both.
  • Protect This House
    The hero's home comes under attack.
  • Protected by a Child
    Where the hero can't get to the villain to administer smackdown because a child is in the way, protecting him.
  • Protectorate
    A specific person, place, or thing, or set thereof, which our hero is responsible for defending.
  • Punched Across the Room
    In movies and videogames, punches and kicks send you flying, usually in the direction of something breakable.
  • Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...
    In a fistfight, one character delivers a set of rapid-fire punches into the other one's gut, only to have him smile and start delivering serious violence.
  • Punctuated Pounding
  • The Purge
    When a villain takes over a big company or government, the first thing he does is start ordering the deaths of quite a lot of people.

    Q 
  • Quicksand Sucks
    Dip a toe into quicksand, and suddenly you get sucked down to the bowels of the earth!

    R 
  • The Radio Dies First
    A two-way radio is put out of commission to allow the plot to proceed.
  • Railroad Tracks of Doom
    Any time you see railroad tracks, a train will appear, usually giving a character a near-death, suspenseful miss.
  • Ransacked Room
    You can tell it's been ransacked because the underwear is strewn over the chair instead of strewn over the floor.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn
    A group of bandits, pirates, or even mooks working for a Big Bad sack a town - looting, damaging property, and sometimes even murdering and kidnapping innocent townsfolk. Then they burn it down.
  • Rated M for Manly
    Something soaked to the brim with testosterone and badassery. Made by men for men.
  • Redemption Demotion
    When a bad guy becomes a good guy, his power potential goes down significantly.
  • Redemption Promotion
    When a bad guy becomes a good guy, his power potential goes up significantly.
  • Redundant Rescue
    Where a character is "saved" when, as it turns out, he didn't really need to be.
  • Reed Snorkel
    Plucking a hollow reed and using it to breathe while underwater.
  • Removing The Earpiece
    When an agent or operative removes their communication earpiece, they're going to disobey an order, go rogue, or say something "off the record."
  • Resignations Not Accepted
    The only way to leave an evil organization is death.
  • The Rest Shall Pass
    When the heroic team is split up by the sudden arrival of a series of villains.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better
    They're just COOL, dammit!
  • Right Under Their Noses
    The safest way to avoid detection in stories is always right under the enemy's nose. It's the last place they'll think to look.
  • River of Insanity
    Any river voyage or wilderness journey is a doomed expedition in which the characters alternately die, go mad, get lost, go native, or otherwise barely live to tell the tale.
  • Road Sign Reversal
    A villain or prankster mucks things up by flipping road signs so they point in the wrong direction.
  • Rooftop Confrontation
    Exactly What It Says on the Tin. A fight on a rooftop. It will often end with someone falling off.
  • Rope Bridge
    If you see one, you know one side is going to have the ropes cut, or the planks are going to fall down.
  • The Ruins I Caused
    After a big, property-damage-causing event, the main characters are seen on a cliff or plateau overlooking the ruins that resulted.

    S 

  • Salvage Pirates
    The heroes are rescued! Okay, not really; they're pirates who only want to loot their stuff.
  • Save the Villain
    You're gonna regret it...
  • Saw It in a Movie Once
    Where a character pulls off something crazy and unexpected, and says he saw it in a movie once.
  • Scary Surprise Party
    Something nasty happens to a character (kidnapped, in danger) but it turns out to be a surprise party.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!
    Where a member of either the good guys or bad guys gets sick of it, throws his hands in the air and walks away.
  • The Scrounger
    The guy The Captain turns to when he needs supplies.
  • Secret Path
    When characters use a secret route to get somewhere, often to get around obstacles or avoid being seen.
  • Secret Police
    You never saw them, they didn't arrest you, and that isn't your tongue they just cut off.
  • Secret Underground Passage
    A hidden path often located under old houses, or in bad guy lairs.
  • See the Whites of Their Eyes
    In fiction, if you can't see them, you can't target them.
  • Sentient Cosmic Force
    A sentient Background Magic Field of universal scale.
  • Separated From The Adults
    An easy, convenient way to let a Kid Hero go on an adventure while still being fairly believable.
  • Shaggy Search Technique
    The only way to find the secret passage is by sheer luck; leaning against that candle amazingly opens the door!
  • Shark Pool
    A body of water filled with any variety of unpleasant creatures, such as alligators, killer jellyfish, piranha, or sharks.
  • Sheep In Wolf's Clothing
    Someone who's part-way transforming into a monster/zombie/robot/whatever will resist being on their side, and will help their human friends.
  • Shipshape Shipwreck
    No matter how ancient the shipwreck, it'll be mostly intact on the ocean floor.
  • Shooting Gallery
    You have to shoot the dummies. But if you shoot the civilians, you lose 100 points.
  • Shoot The Fuel Tank
    In fiction, shooting a fuel tank makes it explode.
  • Shoot the Rope
    When a character is about to be hanged, the cavalry will come to the rescue and shoot the rope.
  • Shoot Your Mate
    The hero is pretending to be on the bad guys' side, and his love interest or friend is held captive. The bad guy hands him a gun and tells him to shoot her.
  • Shut Up and Save Me!
    With the heroine in danger, the hero stops for a moment to start giving a speech or haranguing her.
  • Sic 'em
    After a minor victory, we are treated to a scene of the Big Bad sending more minions after the hero.
  • Silent Running Mode
    The crew of a ship have to be as quiet as possible so enemy radar won't pick them up.
  • Single Malt Vision
    If you have been drinking and your foe seems to have undergone some sort of cloning effect, so that it seems there are now many of him, shoot the one in the middle.
  • Skeleton Key
    A key that will open any door or lock; often shaped like a skeleton.
  • Skeleton Key Card
    You can open any locked door by taking out a credit card and jiggling it in the lock.
  • Slave Liberation
    The hero is on a mission to rescue slaves.
  • Sleight of Tongue
    The hero, stuck in captivity, is kissed by a sympathetic woman, who passes some item to him in his mouth.
  • Slipped the Ropes
    A tied up character reveals that he or she slipped their bonds ages ago.
  • Smoke Out
    Drop a smoke bomb and slip away while everybody's coughing.
  • Snowy Screen of Death
    You can tell when video cameras or visual feeds are destroyed because they get replaced with static.
  • Soft Glass
    When you throw yourself through a pane of glass, shattering it, you can get right up and keep going.
  • Sole Survivor
    The only person who survived a terrible tragedy or massacre.
  • Something We Forgot
    The adventure's over, everything's been taken care of...except the most important thing! D'OH!
  • Space Marine
    Standard FPS hero: A military man (often in bulky armour), who wields lots of big guns and kills lots of aliens.
  • Spy Satellites
    The omnipresent "eye in the sky".
  • Spy Versus Spy
    Two opposing spy organizations with James Bond-like agents.
  • Stab the Scorpion
    A lethal attack that we think is meant for the hero is instead meant for something that was trying to kill him instead.
  • State Sec
    A sprawling government agent complete with Secret Police, a paramilitary wing, a propaganda division, and more!
  • Stealth Hi/Bye
    When a character either suddenly appears or disappears close to someone when they weren't looking.
  • Storming the Castle
    It's time to gear up and assault the bad guy's home base!
  • Strength Equals Worthiness
    If you want someone or something to join your side, you have to best it in physical combat first.
  • Suddenly Always Knew That
    A character suddenly has a skill they need with little or no explanation.
  • Suicide Mission
    When the situation is that desperate...
  • Super Multi-Purpose Room
    A mundane living room, bedroom, or small apartment that can be instantly transformed into a fully-functional Super Hero lair.
  • Supernatural Martial Arts
    If you train hard enough, you can channel mystic energies and blow up airplanes.
  • Super Window Jump
    To get to or from the scene in a hurry, just jump through a window.
  • Surveillance As The Plot Demands
    The bad guys have cameras everywhere, even though nobody ever sees them.
  • Swamps Are Evil
    About the horrors of certain swamplands...
  • Swiss Cheese Security
    Characters can enter the premises whenever the plot necessitates it, despite presumably locked doors or obvious obstacles.
  • Sword and Gun
    A character simultaneously wielding a gun in one hand and a sword in another, or another combination of projectile and melee weapon.
  • Sword Over Head
    The good guy has the bad guy where he wants him, raises his sword over his head... and can't go through with it.

    T 
  • Take a Moment to Catch Your Death
    The hero has just avoided a narrow scrape with death. Whew, that was... BOOM!
  • Take It To The Bridge
    Bridges, like crossroads, are imbued with plot significance.
  • Take Up My Sword
    The hero dies, and a new hero takes up the old hero's mission.
  • Taking Over the Town
    Villains cut a town off the outside world so they can use it for their own nefarious purposes.
  • Telecom Tree
    When the hero needs aid and calls his friends for help, the friends will often save the hero time by calling others the hero has helped, leading to a massive group response.
  • 10-Minute Retirement
    The hero gives up on his mission, only to come back when a situation arises that requires his help.
  • There Was a Door
    A character makes a dramatic entrance... by going through the wall.
  • They Have the Scent
    When animals pick up the trail of someone they're pursuing, leading to a chase.
  • This Page Will Self-Destruct
    When a message is designed to destroy itself after reading to keep it out of the wrong hands.
  • This Way to Certain Death
    A dangerous area is marked by the corpses or bones of those who previously went through it.
  • Those Were Only Their Scouts
    An initial victory over the enemy followed by the chilling realization that those were only the harbingers of doom.
  • Three-Point Landing
    Landing in a crouch with your feet wide apart and one hand on the ground.
  • Throw-Away Country
    When other countries are treated as one-shot disaster zones to show what could happen to the heroes' beloved home and are never touched upon afterward.
  • Thrown from the Zeppelin
    When the Big Bad calls investors in to finance his Evil Plan, those who object are often killed.
  • Time Bomb
    A character must succeed within a time limit, or bad things will happen.
  • Time for Plan B
    Our original plan failed. Time to blow stuff up or get the hell out of here!
  • Tired of Running
    I've had it with being pursued. It's time to kick some ass!
  • To Catch Heroes Hire Villains
    Heroes on the run for a major crime (that they may or may not have committed)? Send in the bad guys!
  • Torches and Pitchforks
    When the people get together in an angry mob to Burn the Witch! or kill the beast. Usually misguided.
  • To the Batpole!
    The heroes get to their base via a sequence of cool maneuvers before swinging into action.
  • Train Escape
    A train is used to end a chase, either by crossing the tracks ahead of it just in time or by hopping aboard.
  • Traintop Battle
    Battle atop a moving train. Common in Westerns and modern action flicks alike.
  • Trash Landing
    A character's fall is broken by landing in a dumpster.
  • Trespassing To Talk
    Waiting in a character's home or office to confront them.
  • Trial Of The Mystical Jury
    The hero is put on trial.
  • Tribal Carry
    Tribesmen who capture characters will often carry them to their village like game on a pole.
  • Trick-and-Follow Ploy
    Where you find out the location of the enemy's secret base by tricking an ally of his to go there and deliver some kind of communication.
  • Trojan Horse
    Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.
  • Trojan Prisoner
    The heroes pose as guards transporting a prisoner.
  • Troll Bridge
    The heroes must outwit someone guarding a bridge in order to cross.
  • Tuck and Cover
    Saving someone else from an explosion by leaping on them and taking the blast for them.

    U 
  • Uncertain Doom
    It isn't stated whether the character escapes a dangerous situation.
  • Underside Ride
    A character hitches a ride underneath a vehicle.
  • Underestimating Badassery
    When the bad guys have no clue who they are messing with.
  • Unflinching Faith In The Brakes
    A character standing in the path of something dangerous will unflinchingly stand there, knowing whatever it is will stop just inches from them.
  • Unguided Lab Tour
    A protagonist walks into a top-secret workplace, and only when the audience has had a complete lab tour does anyone notice the visitor.
  • Universal Driver's License
    The hero will know how to drive or operate any vehicle, regardless of its general control scheme.
  • Unstoppable Rage
    When the hero gets utterly furious and uses that rage to completely own the bad guys.
  • Unwilling Suspension
    A character is tied up and suspended from the ceiling.

    V 
  • Vapor Trail
    A hero uses the gas spilling out of a vehicle's gas-tank to ignite a trail back to the vehicle and destroy it.
  • Vertical Kidnapping
    A character is kidnapped by someone from above.
  • Villainous Rescue
    The heroes have been rescued by the villain.
  • Villainous Valour
    When a hero is unstoppable, sometimes the bad guys will show otherwise heroic traits in taking him on.
  • Violence Is Disturbing
    When violence stops being cool and start being disturbing.
  • Violence is the Only Option
    In the action genre, the only solution that works is kicking the bad guy's ass. Negotiation is useless or a trap.

    W 
  • Walk into Mordor
    To enter the forbidden realm, you are only allowed to use the most grueling methods available.
  • Walk the Plank
    Pirate punishment of preference.
  • Wasn't That Fun?
    A common utterance after surviving yet another escape.
  • Watching a Video Game
    Action adventure with a sizable dose of Video Game Tropes mixed in.
  • Water Wake-up
    You know it's not going to be a fun trip when you get a bucket of water thrown into your face after getting captured.
  • Wax On, Wax Off
    Martial arts instruction disguised as menial chores.
  • Weaponized Car
    When a Cool Car has built in hidden weapons that can help the hero or villain out.
  • Weaponized Landmark
    A powerful weapon is built inside a famous landmark or monument.
  • Weapons Understudies
    Only have the weapons and vehicles for one side available to you? Have both sides in your movie use them.
  • Wire Dilemma
    The Time Bomb is ticking down. Which wire do you cut to disarm it and not blow yourself up?
  • Wild Wilderness
    The woods nearby are very quiet on the outside but when you go in big adventures happen but no one outside notices.
  • Wrong Wire
    You cut the wrong wire and now the countdown's moving faster! Oh Crap!


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