Characteristic Trope

Tropes can become discredited in a number of ways. Usually this involves overuse or changes in social values. But sometimes it doesn't even take that.

When a trope which may have been perfectly ordinary on its own is used so famously by one particular show, its meaning gets changed. Instead of what the trope had meant before, it now means "Homage or parody of the show which used it famously." (Or, if you're less lucky, "Blatant rip-off of the show which used it famously.") Think of it as a kind of Real Life Flanderization of a trope.

This can get annoying for writers, since the trope may be a useful screen-metaphor in its own right, but they can't use it without creating unwanted associations.

See also Fountain of Expies for character-specific examples, as well as Whole Plot Reference. Compare Trope Codifier and Trope Namer, which both identify a show for becoming well known for a trope, but not necessarily laying such claims on future use of it. Contrast Ur-Example, which is when a show uses what will eventually become a trope, but wasn't actually one at the time. See also Follow the Leader for intentional trope invocation based off of that one particular show.


For that matter, most of the tropes in this catalogue which are actually named for a particular show are probably so characteristic of those shows that it's dangerous to use them if you can't handle the association.

See also Older Than They Think.