Socrates:Tropes Are Tools
Ya know, Calvin, that line has been used so many times now, it's not even mildly
threatening anymore. Andy:
Yeah, it actually just took all the drama out. It's like having 555
for a phone number.
, but some have aged better than others.
Over the course of time, a trope may be overused, misused, opposed, made obsolete
, out of fashion
on many notable occasions, or just end up being widely disliked
. Eventually, a trope may reach the point where it becomes one which nobody should dare use seriously
and only belongs in parody, satire, homage or pastiche. Often, if one of these is used straight, people will assume
it's a Red Herring
In some cases, a trope may be discredited due to changes in our knowledge of history or science. Use of the trope in fiction may change to reflect this. See the Time Marches On
- Just because a trope is discredited does not necessarily mean it is not Truth in Television, or that it's necessarily a Forgotten Trope.
- This is not bad writing because the writing itself is bad, but because the writer doesn't know its audience. After all, Tropes Are Not Bad.
- Just because a trope is not Truth in Television does not mean it is discredited.
are immune to being discredited, mostly because those tropes are too natural to the medium of storytelling to ever be considered tired cliches. Undead Horse Trope
describes tropes that have been subverted and parodied dozens of times, but aren't quite
- Dead Horse Trope, where subversions or parodies outnumber straight use in recent works.
- Forgotten Trope, which describes tropes that aren't used in recent works at all; they may have been considered Discredited Tropes years ago, or just fell from use for other reasons.
Compare Discredited Meme
Examples and Tropes:
open/close all folders
- The Aggressive Drug Dealer: This is not how the majority of drug dealers operate in Real Life - primarily because most who are not The Mentally Disturbed beyond common sense and reason or amped up on their own product want to do two things: make a profit and avoid arrests/investigation. Aggressive sales tactics aimed at kids would fail on both counts. Most Real Life dealers are well aware they are selling a highly illegal product and have some degree of discretion in doing so, and usually their customers are already sold on the product, since introductions usually happen between peers. The person most likely to give someone their first dose of a drug is not an aggressive "do it or else" dealer - it's a friend.
- Alliterative Name: A trope popularized by Stan Lee so that he could remember all these characters he co-created. It's been taken to the point of parody.
- All Just a Dream: Too often abused as a Deus ex Machina / Stock Epileptic Tree.
- All Gays Are Pedophiles: Formerly a widespread stereotype — and a major reason homosexuality has been demonized for so long — NO ONE with any credibility believes this anymore, to say nothing of the homophobic undertones.
- All Women Are Prudes: Since sexual attitudes have become more relaxed, nobody plays this straight.
- Anal Probing: Still survives in some comedic settings or jokes, but the concept of The Grays or Little Green Men or other space aliens engaging in this has become so discredited that the only way to use it is parody or a subversion. It also has the Fridge Horror of being a rape joke, unless you are using the subversion of someone actively seeking it.
- Award Bait Song: Has been slowly vanishing since its peak in The Nineties. Revised rules in the Academy Awards have also ensured that they're no longer award bait.
- Barbaric Bully: Heightened school security in the post-Columbine era means that beating a kid up in a crowded school hallway usually comes with consequences. Not to mention that the advent of cyberbullying and the recent rash of bully-related suicides proves that a good deal of bullying is psychological rather than physical (and that psychological bullying can be just as harmful as physical bullying). It is not discredited in British works due to Values Dissonance, and the fact that British society sees physical bullying as a major topical issue.
- Basement-Dweller: The economic hard times of the 2010s have convinced a steadily increasing amount of young people to live with their parents, though this is still mainly due to financial desperation.
- The Bermuda Triangle: No matter what anyone wants to say about Real Life ships and planes that have disappeared in the region, aliens, Cthulhu, dimensional portals, Atlantis, etc. are NOT behind any of it. The incidence of Real Life disappearances in the area is no higher or lower than any other part of the ocean that has similar size, weather, and maritime traffic.
- Bedsheet Ghost: A hopelessly outdated cliche of a ghost appearance that is very difficult to play straight now.
- Black Helicopter: Drones have made them obsolete and are more believable.
- Book Burning: Made obsolete as of the 1990s-2000s with the advent of multiple methods of duplicating and spreading information electronically. Forced deletion of information, conspiracies to limit its release, slandering those who release information and questioning their motives/veracity with Astro Turf, banning by region, arrests and threats to those who release information, and other methods of censorship and suppression are far more common (and even those are of limited success.
- Bowdlerize: The ability to release the uncensored version of almost anything via the internet/via DVD deleted scenes/via other means has made serious attempts to do this (outside of children's media and very religious/conservative locales) almost laughable, as everyone who wants to can easily find the "real" version.
- Brain Fever: A Forgotten Trope, of an "illness" that existed before better understanding of the human brain and better imaging of the human brain. There are infections of the brain (encephalitis, meningitis, rabies), and there are psychological and physiological conditions (post-traumatic stress disorder, catatonic states, panic attacks) but all have different causes, different symptoms, and far different outcomes.
- Brainwashed: Is Truth in Television and does happen on a quite regular basis, but many means of doing so in fiction have been very discredited (hypnosis, drugs/a drug as sole means, magic). Realistic portrayals focus on More Than Mind Control, torture and other forms of abuse, Stockholm Syndrome, and the Dirty Social Tricks, as that is how actual brainwashing is accomplished. However, it is still used in some plots concerning Churchof Happyology.
- British Royal Guards: Never used for anything other than comedic effect, but nowadays the once common gags involving a guard's effort to remain still under immense pressure have been replaced with ones where voluntary movement on the guard's part is observed, side-stepping more commonplace expectations.
- But Not Too White: Becoming increasingly less common in visual media, thanks to tanned skin no longer being the de facto beauty standard that it once was. Sex symbols in The New Tens like Robert Pattinson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zooey Deschanel and Christina Hendricks have gradually challenged the idea that fair skin is something to be ashamed of.
- The Calls Are Coming from Inside the House: Based on a myth about analog land lines (see the trope page), plus it's not that scary or unusual anymore with the omnipresence of cell phones.
- Career Versus Family: Working moms are quite common, especially as the cost of raising children to adulthood increases.
- Career Versus Man: It is entirely possible to have both; these days, a woman is not expected to give up her career when she gets married.
- Catch Your Death of Cold (still alive and well in Japanese and possibly other East Asian media, though)
- Cement Shoes: It's much more efficient (from both a filming and story perspective) to have the crooks just shoot the guy or bash his head in and go on their way. The victim being suddenly shot also has more shock value.
- Chocolate-Frosted Sugar Bombs: Modern children's cereals are made with much more of an eye towards nutrition, thanks to backlash regarding marketing junk food to kids.
- The Chosen One: Has largely fallen out of favor due to how overused and cliche it is.
- Christmas Cake: Along with its Western variant, the Old Maid, it's not quite gone from consciousness, but it is on its way out, thanks to changing attitudes about the role of women in society, and increased education for girls.
- Coincidental Broadcast
- Cure Your Gays: Now that it's understood that "conversion therapy" and other attempts to "cure" non-heterosexual orientations are at best worthless and useless and fraudulent and at worst dangerous to life and health, playing this straight is seen as backward and offensive.
- Cut-and-Paste Note: In modern fiction, due to the prevalence of more convenient and harder to trace forms of anonymous communication. If used in any sort of forensic drama, you can bet the CSIs will admonish the culprit as an amateur and get damning evidence off the note.
- Cut Phone Lines: Largely discredited in any story set after the widespread adoption of cell/mobile phones.
- Dastardly Whiplash: A cardboard stereotype, clear-cut villain used in vaudeville and stage melodramas note that got so ridiculously overused, that it became impossible to take seriously, and thus became extremely ripe for parody in cartoons. As such, this trope has almost never been played straight since, and when it does occasionally pop up, it's used as fodder for a quick villain gag or for sheer camp value (e.g. Dick Dastardly from Wacky Races, Snidely Whiplash from Dudley Do-Right, Oil Can Harry from Mighty Mouse)—in fact, the reason people even remember this trope is often because of how often the cliche has been parodied.
- Dead Pet Sketch: Except in parodies, and even then, not taken seriously.
- Declarative Finger: Often used by the authors to imply that the character doing so is just trying to come across as profound, which in turn is used to imply that the character is actually saying something NON-profound.
- Digital Piracy Is Evil: Despite still lingering today, companies have ultimately realized that the war against piracy is a lost cause, and have taken incentive to work around it instead. More recently they have been pushing a new bill (s.978, Protect IP, SOPA) to put an end to piracy forever, although all attempts so far have failed. Although in the United Kingdom, the Digital Economy Bill keeps this as an Undead Horse Trope due to Values Dissonance.
- Dinner with the Boss: Discredited around The Seventies to The Eighties in the United States. Most if not all work-related/work networking parties/meetings/similar, anywhere in the world, are at restaurants, bars, or other public event locations, or held at the house of the boss/senior staff rather than rank-and-file employees. In Europe and Japan (as well as Latin America and most of Asia) this was how things were all along for the most part.
- Diplomatic Impunity: Due to several Truth in Television incidents that led to Ripped from the Headlines, most countries, after around The Nineties, created ways of at least removing severely criminal or dangerous diplomatic staff.
- Disaster Movies involving airplanes - since Airplane! came out, no-one could possibly take one seriously. Unless it was based on a true story. One contemporary airplane disaster movie tried to play itself straight for the first part of its production process - then someone realized there were snakes on the plane.
- Divorce Assets Conflict: Still occasionally happens, but with most couples (especially those where large amounts of wealth are involved on one or both sides) having legally binding prenuptial agreements, far less likely to happen in Real Life post The Nineties, and therefore much less realistic without some explanation as to why there was no prenup.
- Divorce Requires Death: In Western society, at least, it doesn't.
- Does This Make Me Look Fat?:
- You see this every day, so it's not really a plot device.
- There's also the common variant of the trope, "Does this make my butt look big?". Because of evolving beauty standards in the 21st century, the implication that a woman has a big butt is a lot less likely to be considered an insult than it once was.
- Dramatic Slip
- Dr. Feelgood: They still exist, but are far more discreet because, due to legal crackdowns and the like, blatant and open ones often find themselves arrested, stripped of medical licensing, sued, or all of the above.
- Drunken Montage: Except when it's Played for Laughs.
- Dumb and Drummer: With quite a few very intellectual drummers existing in Real Life, the rise of Drum And Bass, dubstep, and some very technically complex forms of Heavy Metal, all of which require musical skill and competency and some degree of intelligence - alongside the trope becoming a Discredited Meme to some degree from simple overuse - it's become a cliche. Subverting it with having the stupidity be Obfuscating Stupidity or temporary due to Alcohol-Induced Idiocy or a manic episode or the like is far more believable, especially if the band you're depicting is supposed to be expert-level musicians.
- Dying Dream: Too often abused as a Deus ex Machina, except also common as an overused Downer Ending.
- Essex Girl: We are in the age of The Only Way Is Essex but the trope itself is pretty much discredited nowadays. The WIGWAG(Wigan Walkden Girl, alternately Wigan Warrington Girl) [a slightly higher social demographic, as Wigan and Walkden are fairly affluent neighborhoods] - the older trope is now gone; it only survives in The Only Way Is Essex due to the legacy of the Grandfather Clause. The trope itself in general isn't obsolete, but the Essex version is. Audience reactions on this are mixed, to say the least.
- Everybody Smokes: The global smoking rate (as measured by admitted daily smokers) as of The New Tens rests around 25 to 30 percent, with a far lower percentage (around 19 to 25 percent) in most Western First World nations, due to aggressive education campaigns about the dangers of tobacco, stricter regulation of its use and sale and promotion, and free or low-cost quitting assistance for smokers. Some populations (and some nations/regions/cities) have larger percentages of smokers, but the trope is entirely discredited anywhere outside of those specific exceptions after The Nineties.
- Flashback Stares: Outside of comedies this is rarely used purely because it looks so silly, breaking any dramatic tension.
- Flushing Toilet, Screaming Shower: Becoming one because newer buildings are designed with this trope in mind so it's harder to pull off.
- Follow That Car
- Foreign-Looking Font: Quite a few of them are seen as racist. Chop Suey, Lithos and Neuland all are seen as racist or racialized, for example, especially when used in certain contexts or to make something seem "exotic."
- The Generation Gap has pretty much become this, with Generations X and Y becoming parents and today's children growing up in an unusually similar cultural landscape to the one their parents grew up in. Fortunately, recent shows like Modern Family and Two and a Half Men have realized this, and thus, the trope has been gradually phased out of television and movies during the past decade-and-a-half or so. Today, it's relegated mostly to parody, although even that is becoming old hat.
- Girls Have Cooties: Unless you are aiming at a VERY young audience, using this trope will make you a laughingstock, and even when shown is generally to teach a moral about how is not true at all.
- GIS Syndrome: Always mocked, Played for Laughs, or derided as lazy. Some webcomics like Homestuck, Twisted Kaiju Theater, or Alien Loves Predator can get away with it, but only because of the Grandfather Clause and simple practicality issues.
- Give Geeks a Chance: Due to modern-day attitudes towards relationships, it's harder to take seriously anymore. If it is used, expect An Aesop as well.
- The mainstreaming of nerd culture such as The Big Bang Theory has rendered it more or less obsolete, as there's no longer anything especially remarkable about a self-proclaimed "nerd" having a fulfilling love life.
- High School Rocks: Despite being a popular trope beginning in the 70s, and continuing on into the 90s (particularly in kid shows), is rarely played straight anymore. Now that shows like Freaks and Geeks and My So-Called Life, not to mention movies like Superbad and (to a lesser extent) Dazed and Confused, have subverted it into oblivion, it's almost impossible to take this trope seriously anymore. Waterloo Road is the show that made it become this way.
- Henpecked Husband: As Many Domestic Abuse cases start to have more gender neutrality be added to them, this type of relationship is seen as either unrealistic or horrifying. Many sitcoms still use them, however, as do animé, manga and similar.
- Hollywood Thin: On it's way to becoming this, thanks to increasing backlash against media that pressures women and men to be as thin/buff as possible. Hollywood in particular is facing anger over it's perceived encouragement of unhealthy life-styles that revolve around being the size of twig. Ironically it's deliberate counterpart, Real Women Have Curves, may not be far behind it, as it's also receiving backlash for promoting the equally unhealthy ideas that people who are thin are somehow inferior to those who aren't and that being overweight is better than taking care of your body.
- Hysterical Woman: Not only a Double Standard; a tired cliché.
- In a World: The film trailer blurb immortalized by the late Don LaFontaine is heading in this direction.
- Innocent Innuendo: These days, audience reactions tend not to be "whoa, are they doing it?", but "okay, what's really going on?"
- Is There a Doctor in the House?: Now, someone would just ask someone to call Emergency Services. Especially since, due to Crippling Overspecialization, a doctor present might not even be able to help in any meaningful way (e.g. a psychiatrist or a dentist won't likely be able to do any more for someone having a heart attack or who just got hurt in an accident than a non-doctor would)
- It's Quiet... Too Quiet: Still applicable in a few very rare instances (tornadoes, total loss of power), but most people in those circumstances are probably more Oh, Crap than "it's too quiet..."
- "I Want" Song: This became discredited for a while after Disney and its competitors milked the Broadway musical cartoon formula for all it was worth — the makers of Toy Story even intentionally avoided this, in order to distinguish it from those films. That said, there's enough nostalgia left for it now to allow it to return in recent films like The Princess and the Frog, but it's nowhere near as prevalent as it was in the past.
- Kawaiiko: Now that we're in the age of salarymen, Japanese sex dolls (as mentioned by Justin Lee Collins) and Japanese supermodels like Leah Dizon, this trope is very much now no longer able to be played straight. British magazine Take A Break treated it as The New Rock & Roll, but they were Two Decades Behind - the kawaii fad is known for its flaws and is a joke nowadays.
- Karmic Rape: Only in a select very few situations is this not thoroughly discredited (e.g. Adolf Hitler in a Black Comedy, pedophiles), and even there it carries severe Values Dissonance. It is also more common in manga and anime than western works, due to cultural differences.
- Kid Sidekick: While very popular during the Golden and Silver Age of Comics, nowadays it's rarely used because the kid sidekick has a tendency to become both The Scrappy and The Load. There's also the desire nowadays to avoid the implied moral that it's alright to put kids in mortal danger. In grandfathered cases like Robin or Bucky Barnes, the trope is either justified by having the kid putting themselves on the streets and the older hero is their mentor/guardian keeping them from getting badly hurt, or deconstructed by having the kid be a ruthless Child Soldier completely unlike the flashy Tagalong Kid expected. Also worth noting is that the premiere of Spider-Man in the 60s popularized the concept of the kid being their own independent superhero, and a number of former sidekicks like Wally West and Bucky Barnes have since become adults and taken the title of their former mentor.
- Leprechaun: Only in Ireland itself though, not in America or elsewhere.
- Leave the bottle!: You won't find this in any modern bar or tavern. It's against modern ABC laws.
- Little Green Men: The Grays have made them obsolete.
- Love at First Sight: Usually ends with finding out the object isn't really the right person for you after all, nowadays.
- Love Potion: Generally recognized as a form of Date Rape if marriage/sexual contact results from its use.
- Macho Disaster Expedition: The inherent sexism against both genders when using this trope - namely, that men are incompetent sexist morons, and that a woman is naturally better at keeping house, even if it's in the wilderness - have made using this trope uncomfortable.
- Man in a Bikini: It is still played straight, but one use of it is discredited; it is no longer used as a source of comedy nowadays. Well, except for Teen Idol shows like Hannah Montana and iCarly. Main usage is for Very Special Episodes or to promote An Aesop on tolerating crossdressers.
- Mars and Venus Gender Contrast: Not played straight except in some romantic comedies, and even then it's considered by most to be a tired cliche.
- Mascot with Attitude: Started with poorly made copycats of Sonic the Hedgehog, the Trope Codifier, and solidified by Sonic's gradual decline. As of recently, Sonic is the only prominent example of this trope, obviously due to him being the template for it in the first place.
- Mayan Doomsday: December 21, 2012 is in the past now, and suffice to say, the world and civilization in general remain intact. It's hard to imagine any new works taking this trope seriously with that in mind.
- Medley Overture: With theatre orchestras getting smaller and audiences and directors more impatient for shows to start, full-scale overtures have been relegated mostly to revivals o classic shows and throwbacks set in the 1920s or 1930s.
- Men Can't Keep House: Outdated and untrue these days, with the advent of stay-at-home dads.
- Millennium Bug: The year 2000 passed long ago and needless to say the apocalypse didn't happen. Back in the late 90s this was often used as a semi-plausible (at least for people not knowledgeable in computers) doomsday cause in fiction. Nowadays it's only ever brought up to mock people for being so stupid as to get in a panic over the thing, like other attempts to predict the apocalypse like the Doomsday Clock.
- Monster Closet: In first-person shooters. Present in shooters in mid 1990s to early 2000s but mainly replaced by offscreen or onscreen spawning.
- Murder Simulators: The theory that video games cause anyone who plays them to become a psychopath has been proven (by time, if nothing else) to be patently untrue. Anti-gaming also took a few huge blows in The New Tens, with the Supreme Court declaring that video games are protected free speech in the United States, and many anti-gaming politicians leaving office in Australia, along with the establishment of an R18+ rating in that country. Couple that with the generation that grew up with video games now having children of their own, and it's fair to say that any media that still tries to paint video games with this trope will be met with eye-rolling and mockery.
- Napoleon Delusion: Because after a certain point in time, delusional people wouldn't know who Napoleon is unless they were history buffs/history majors. Also, in Real Life, A God Am I and the belief that one is seriously connected to, harassed/persecuted by, or actually is a celebrity or the President of the United States are more common delusions, as is the possibly-not-delusional belief (depending on the person and their activities - there have actually been real cases of said harassment/persecution) that one is being harassed/persecuted by authorities, a conspiracy, or the like.
- The Natives Are Restless: This isn't the age of colonialism anymore. It still pops up in fantasy and science fiction settings where colonialism can exist, but even then, it's more likely to be used for humour.
- Nineties Anti-Hero: Except in Video Games, a medium where it seems to work better than comic books.
- Not Allowed to Grow Up: Still largely used and accepted in animation, comics and video games, but discredited in live action media.
- Officer O'Hara: There are still Irish-American cops in entertainment, but they tend to be less stereotypical. The whimsy and the just-off-the-boat accent tend to only be used straight in Historical Fiction these days.
- One Bullet at a Time: Subjective; was originally a technical limitation, but can still be enforced for gameplay reasons (e.g. prevent some forms of Spam Attack).
- Opening Narration: During the Title Sequence, this usually gave the premise of the series. Today, writers prefer to Show, Don't Tell. It's still played straight in some Medical Drama or Police Procedural series, occasionally in sci-fi, and also used in some comedies (How I Met Your Mother, Malcolm in the Middle, Scrubs...)
- On the other hand, Previously On still hasn't disappeared, even though it has been made less necessary by such new technologies as DVDs, YouTube, and Ti Vo (it is still useful when the previous action took place maybe ten or twenty episodes ago).
- One of the more notable instances of it being used in 2014 is the opening narration of Forever: Dr. Henry Morgan explains to the viewer the premise (200 years ago he started reviving naked in a body of water after being killed) and then hangs a lampshade on it "And now you know as much about this as I do."
- Opening Scroll: Today, the general stance is that you should just Show, Don't Tell. May occasionally pop up as an homage to one of the most famous examples.
- The Padding technique used in British adventure serials (Doctor Who and Blake's 7 being the two most notorious abusers) of having the hero get captured at the end of one part (Cliffhanger), spend the next episode escaping and get captured at the end of that episode by the same people (Cliffhanger). The fact that the mainstream, cliffhanger-laden adventure serial is a dead format, how the age of just shoving an episode out in a week ("so just write some stuff where everyone's running about to fill up minutes, who cares if it's good") is gone forever thanks to the increased complexity of special effects, and the fact that shows like this tend to be aimed at cult audiences who are very sensitive to this kind of plotting mean that this is never done nowadays, and if it does show up it's usually in spoofs.
- Phone-Trace Race: Still used on occasion by very dense Hollywood hacks, but with caller ID, the popularity of shows like 24 which have mostly ditched this trope, and a general paranoia about Google and Facebook tracking your every move, writers nowadays tend to err on the side of the FBI/NSA/CIA being too good at tracking your every move.
- Poor Man's Porn: The Internet Is for Porn, so you don't need to settle for the Victoria's Secret catalog anymore.
- Prolonged Prologue: Often seen in fantasy novels. They give a lot of backstory on a world that the reader hasn't read enough of to care about yet. Most publishers say Show, Don't Tell and let the reader learn about the world through the eyes of the characters.
- Queer People Are Funny: Often seen as homophobic nowadays.
- Quicksand Sucks: Except in video games. Some terrain does do this in Real Life - the squickiest example is liquid manure, but snow in an avalanche and grain (as in a grain bin) are also notorious for "swallowing up" and killing people who unfortunately fall onto it. You actually have far more of a chance surviving quicksand than either liquid manure, an avalanche, or grain - because both of the latter are far easier to sink into beyond the point of saving oneself.
- Random Encounters: Originally required by technical limitations, but rarely seen now consoles have the power to render enemies in the overworld (Pokémon being a notable exception via the Grandfather Clause).
- Rape and Switch: The Unfortunate Implications of the trope (e.g. either that gay people can be made straight via rape, OR that LGBTQ people "recruit" by sexual abuse and rape, or in some cases both), as well as greater understanding have made this trope very discredited and disfavored in most works made after The New Tens. The only place it remains is (usually less well-written) Fan Fic, where the "victim falls for rapist" variant of it will make appearances.
- Rape Portrayed as Redemption: Absolutely discredited (and many of its past depictions have tied into the trope directly above, which really has not made them age well). The only way this could be played with any kind of sensitivity toward the victims of rape or in anything but the darkest of Black Comedy is a variant with the rapist seeing rape as the "rock bottom moment" of his life and being Driven to Suicide or becoming The Atoner or something similar.
- Red-and-White Comedy Poster: Very common in the Turn of the Millennium, but rarely seen in The New Tens, due to an association with movies that are utter crap.
- Revenge of the Sequel: An overused stock sequel title, especially for horror movies.
- Rotoscoping: Derided as a lazy, poor substitute for actual animation by both animators and critics (thanks in part to another trope it inevitably invokes), it is almost never used in modern hand-drawn animation, let alone without irony. It's more modern equivalent, Motion Capture, is still used in CGI, but often to equal derision.
- Said Bookism: In these days, it's often considered redundant, and generally considered a very obvious hallmark of amateur or inexperienced writers.
- Samus is a Girl: Overused and now the revealation that a girl can be as strong and badass as men is no longer subversive.
- Santa Claus Tropes: Santa has become such a commercial icon of Christmas and as such overexposed via countless Christmas specials and merchandise, that it is pretty much impossible to play any trope related to him straight now, unless you have a really young audience in mind or have no self-respect for yourself as a storyteller.
- The Savage Indian: Still pops up sometimes but has mostly been replaced by the Noble Savage and the Magical Native American.
- Scooby-Doo Hoax: After being abused by the original Scooby Doo and other Hanna Barbara cartoons, this is never played straight anywhere now. Even actual Scooby Doo cartoons make a point out of subverting, playing with, mocking, or outright deconstructing this trope.
- The Scream: Almost universally Played for Laughs nowadays. In modern media, a Big "NO!" is preferred, or, if the media's classification allows for it, an Atomic F-Bomb or Cluster F-Bomb.
- Screamers have received two major blows over the Internet's history. Initially, when flash movies and games were still the norm, there were no clear distinctions between screamers and legitimate pages, creating a minefield for fearful site goers; this meant less traffic for sites like FunnyJunk and WinterWorld. Later, with the advent of video over flash files, viewers were able to scroll to the end of the video to see if any suspicions were confirmed, removing all suspense and defeating the purpose of screamers. They have since been replaced by the trap video, which puts the scare at the beginning of the video, and aims not to make individuals jump, but to cause outrage within specific audiences. Furthermore, they've also been overshadowed by Rickrolls as the Internet's prank of choice.
- The idea of Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll seems to have more-or-less fallen by the wayside. This is probably due mostly to the vast number of drug-related deaths and rehab stints among various rock musicians in the 60s, 70s and 80s (Jimi Hendrix, Nikki Sixx, Ozzy Osbourne, etc.). However, other factors include the extensive anti-drug campaigning of the 80s, the AIDS scare mostly rendering the concept of "Free Love" obsolete, and the Grunge movement of the early 90s shifting the focus of rock away from glorified sex and drug use. Granted, sex and drugs still exist in the music business. But most of the musicians who engage in such activities, at least in Western mainstream pop and country music, are far more secretive and openly ambivalent towards them than before.
- Sex Equals Love: Because most people have realized it doesn't in quite a few cases. Also carries very Unfortunate Implications regarding forced sex/sexual assault/rape.
- Shotgun Wedding: A combination of greater availability of contraception and a reduced stigma of single motherhood make this trope seem very dated today. If a woman does get pregnant, a couple doesn't have to get married, but the father is expected to provide some form of support.
- Shrink Ray: Due to Science Marches On, this is now limited to more-or-less humorous works.
- Small Annoying Creature: Rarely shows up anymore except as parody.
- Smoking Is Cool/Smoking Is Glamorous: Changing attitudes towards smoking have deemed these tropes in bad taste, if not outright dangerous for the impressionable. Modern examples that play these straight are met with fierce criticism.
- Standard Hero Reward: Now widely seen as sexist against women, for having a woman be an "object" to be rewarded. If you play this straight outside of Historical Fiction or one of the grandfathered-in examples (and even those sometimes), you can expect very harsh criticism.
- Standing in the Hall: Parodied in some Japanese works still; but not used in Real Life as much. In western countries, similar variants aren't used due to kids taking it as an opportunity to wander around the halls.
- Star Trek Movie Curse: Not taken seriously anymore after the disappointing reception of the 10th film, Star Trek: Nemesis, and the massive success of the 11th film, the 2009 reboot Star Trek.
- Stern Nun: For one thing, many teachers at modern Catholic schools are laypeople, not nuns. For another thing, after the advent of the Self-Esteem Movement of The Seventies, parents would be all up in arms if a teacher (whether a nun or a layperson) meted out those kinds of punishments. (Nuns also haven't worn those starchy white wimples since the 1970s at the latest, but you'll still occasionally see them, usually for humor.)
- Stranger Danger: Aesops about the inherent dangers of talking to strangers were huge in the 1990s, but due to changing attitudes (coupled with the discovery that the majority of abuse comes from people that the victims know personally) it's rarely played straight.
- Some of My Best Friends Are X: Because using it is pretty much the equivalent of having the character wear a shirt saying "HEY I'M A BIGOT," along with an added Ku Klux Klan hood and jackboots for flair - you've instantly made him/her a Politically Incorrect Villain even if you don't wish to have done so.
- Superheroes Wear Capes: Time was when every other superhero had a cape. These days, capes are considered to be impractical, and even dangerous (see the fate of Dollar Bill in Watchmen or Edna Mode's speech about cape-related mishaps in The Incredibles). You'll still see capes on plenty of DC heroes such as the Superman family and the Bat family, but mostly because of the Grandfather Clause. Aside from Doctor Strange, the Vision, Thor and the supervillains Magneto and Dr. Doom, Marvel has very few characters who wear capes.
- Technicolor Science: On the verge of becoming this thanks to the fact that much of the lab equimpent that this trope depends on is either becoming outdated or less important in modern laboratories. Glass test tubes are being replaced by eppendorf tubes, plastic wellplates, or other plastic disposable equipment where tests can be done with only microliters of samples and chemicals. Complex glassware apparatus setups that look like Mad Scientist Laboratory equipment have already gone the way of the dodo. The functions of those apparatus' are now either obsolete or accomplished using miniaturized and simpler equipment.
- That Reminds Me of a Song: Modern musicals, at least in theatre, are specifically not supposed to play this one straight anymore, though there's still a chance a song of this nature may end up as a Breakaway Pop Hit
- There Are No Girls on the Internet: The online population has reflected real-world gender distributions since 2001 or so.
- They Wasted a Perfectly Good Sandwich: Because unless the scene requires the actor to actually be consuming the food or drink, it's expensive and hard to do multiple takes without spoilage or appearance change. Fake prop food or drink is usually used instead. This is doubly true in the case of alcohol, where drinking can be faked (and most sets generally have rules against consuming on set), and most "alcohol" on film isn't the real thing, but water with food coloring, apple juice, tea, grape juice, soda...
- Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Still pops up occasionally in particularly Glurge heavy works, but is growing increasingly unpopular and criticized due to the Unfortunate Implications it entails (implies that life in general is somehow terrible and that being good will just get you killed) and how laughably heavy-handed uses of the trope tend to be.
- Trojan Gauntlet: In most places, changing sexual mores and Tech Marches On (condoms are no longer behind the counter, self service checkouts) have rendered this trope a thing of the past.
- Truck Driver's Gear Change: It's become such a cliche, especially during the second half of the twentieth century, that it's now almost impossible to play it completely straight anymore.
- What Are Records?: Most kids are not as clueless about old technology as we think they are. It also helps that records have undergone a recent resurgence in popularity.
- White Man's Burden: Increasingly difficult to play straight without being mocked thanks to its racist overtones.
- Wild Samoan: Obvious Unfortunate Implications and Society Marches On make this discredited now. (This doesn't apply to Professional Wrestling, the performance art that time forgot.)
- Old magic tricks like the Disappearing Box and Saw a Woman in Half are best not done in their straight form these days, as everyone's seen them dozens of times and probably knows how those tricks are done.
- In modern chase scenes the Fruit Cart, Sheet of Glass, and Baby Carriage are only included with at least a wink — for serious chases something else that will go splat is used.
- Unwinnable by Design: Used to be a staple of the adventure game genre, particularly if Sierra was at the helm. These days, almost no games are cruel enough to still use it as a mechanic.
- The Virgin in a White Dress. Nowadays, Western women are free to have sex lives before marriage (although it may be frowned upon in some circles), and free to choose what color dress they wear. It's entirely possible (heck, even likely) that a modern bride wearing a white dress might not be a virgin or might only be a Technical Virgin. And second, third, fourth, etc.-time brides are still allowed to wear white if they choose to. Another reason of why this is discredited is the fact that white lost its connotations of purity and became simply the color associated with marriages, that's why most wedding decorations is either white or in any other very light color such as cream.
- Yellow Peril: When played seriously, with no mitigating factors (e.g. being Historical Fiction set in World War II with Imperial Japan as an enemy), this is extremely racist in almost all cases. A portrayal of North Korea might be able to step close to the trope, but even there, focusing on the race/racial attributes as a large part of the villainy rather than internal genocide and repression is obviously going to come off as racist.