Sometimes, Genre Savvy
characters talk about tropes. There are at least three kinds of such discussions:
This trope covers that third category
- They exploit or invoke the trope directly, either by action ("I'll make my sword more powerful by making it brighter!") or by anticipation ("His sword is glowing, I suppose that means it's very powerful").
- They're just discussing tropes in general, apropos of nothing. This is also called Conversational Troping.
- And then there are the discussions that go something like, "If this were an action movie, talking about your family like that would mean you'd be dead in a few minutes." or "Unlike what you may read in detective stories, the Butler is a somewhat unlikely suspect in any murder investigation of this sort, for reasons X, Y and Z."
, where a trope is brought up by the characters, and is directly relevant to the situation at hand, but is not taken necessarily as Truth in Television
This kind of conversation is used to set up either a justification
(Invoked Tropes normally just sort of assume the trope is Truth in Television), a fully noted aversion
, some variety of deconstruction
or a way of hanging a lampshade
. In some cases, it leads to Death by Genre Savviness
This trope is extremely common when Our Vampires Are Different
is invoked in a contemporary setting. Most authors just can't resist having their characters point out how 'real' vampires differ from all those laughably inaccurate Hollywood representations.
Of necessity, almost all criticism involves the twilight realm between Conversational Troping
and Discussing the trope; as a rule, TV Tropes
errs on the side of calling them "discussed", because the trope is directly relevant to the "plot" at hand, except in the Playing With Wiki note
Distinct from Conversational Troping
in that a Discussed Trope will have some relevance to the situation at hand, and distinct from an Invoked Trope
in that an Invoked Trope is always either played straight or expected by at least one character to be played straight.
See also This Is Reality
, which this trope generally invokes.
Do not mix up with Disgust Tropes
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Anime & Manga
- Early on in Naruto other Leaf Gennin remark that Naruto would make for a crappy hero because he's a loudmouth and an idiot. At other times people such as Kiba, who have been beaten by Naruto, remark that he has a lot of Hidden Depths and a talent for attracting allies with his idealistic outlook on life.
- Tropes are often discussed in Lucky Star. This is understandable since one of the main characters is an Otaku Surrogate.
- Haruhi Suzumiya. Since the eponymous character is a Genre Savvy Reality Warper without her knowledge, This Is Reality never occurs. She also discusses tropes while deliberately invoking them, for example while selecting personalities for SOS Brigade, or giving Mikuru a Moe makeover.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, Colonel Mustang points out to Lt. Hughes that if he was in a war story, talking so much about how much he misses his family, while on the battlefield, would be a surefire way to get killed.
- Especially ironic because Lt. Hughes falls victim to that very same trope. Apparently it's not just on the battlefield.
- Defiled Forever is discussed in Wolf Guy - Wolfen Crest, as a consequence of Aoshika (a woman who had already been sexually abused in her past) being kidnapped and gangraped by Haguro and his goons.
- A lot of tropes pertaining to video game mechanics and characters tend to get discussed a lot in Mahou Sensei Negima!, one of the notable ones of Rakan being a Game Breaker. Naturally, a good chunk of this either comes from Chisame, whoever else is Genre Savvy, or will be mentioned in any extra materials.
- In Full Metal Panic!, Sousuke, Kaname, and Kurz find themselves in a Bolivian Army Ending-type scenario, Kaname and Kurz briefly discuss thetrope-naming movie (without naming names) and compare it to their situation. When Sousuke asks how it ended, Kaname says that you never find out and remarks that she always preferred movies with Happy Endings.
Films — Live Action
- Galaxy Quest does this frequently, mainly using the character of Guy, an actor who never quite got over how he played a Red Shirt in the series:
"I'm not even supposed to be here; I'm just 'Crewman Number Six
.' I'm expendable. I'm the guy in the episode who dies to prove how serious the situation is!"
- Beverly Hills Cop features a Played for Laughs discussion of Bolivian Army Ending, during the final shootout with the Big Bad's goons. Of course, the scene doesn't actually end this way, making it a parody as well.
Rosewood: You know what I keep thinking about? You know the end of Butch Cassidy? Redford and Newman are almost out of ammunition, and the whole Bolivian army is out- out in front of this little hut?
Taggart: Billy, I'm gonna make you pay for this.
- The Boondock Saints pull this measure during a shopping scene where one character impedes himself with a large length of rope, because people in the movies always have it and always need it. Lampshaded later on.
- Magnolia has the memorable scene where Phil Parma is on the phone trying to track down the estranged son of his dying patient.
Phil: I know this sounds silly, and I know that I might sound ridiculous...like this is the scene of the movie...where the guy is trying to get a hold of the long-lost son, y'know, but this is that scene. This is that scene. And I think they have those scenes in movies because they're true. Y'know, because they really happen. And you gotta believe me, this is really happening. I mean, I can give you my number and you can go check with whoever you gotta check with and call me back. But do not leave me hanging on this. Please. I'm just — please. See...this is the scene of the movie where you help me out.
- In Nancy Drew, an actor playing a detective on a TV series set in the 1950s (Bruce Willis in a cameo) notes they have police in the show give Miranda warnings, which didn't come about until 1966.
- The Lord Peter Wimsey stories tends to feature dialogue in which somebody discussing "If this were a mystery story…" Particularly common when his Love Interest Harriet Vane is present, as she is a writer of mystery stories.
- Sam Vimes' Genre Savvy discussion of Clues in various Discworld books is another good literary example.
- Discworld and Discussed Tropes go together like dwarves and gold. In Sourcery, an Evil Chancellor actually SAYS of some evil action he is undertaking, "I am the Vizier after all. It is rather expected of me."
- This is taken to its logical extreme in Dr Hix, Professor of Postmortem Communications, who is contractually obligated to be mildly evil on a day-to-day basis, not to exceed aforementioned contractual standards. Will often loudly insist on this as part of Unseen University discussions.
- The Black Jewels book Tangled Webs by Anne Bishop has a couple of examples, mainly because the villain is a hack author. Two characters who had been making fun of the author's cliché-ridden writing are trapped in a house that's trying to kill them while the author watches from inside the walls and records it all as fodder for his next book. At one point, the characters comment that in a horror story, this is exactly when one of them would be stupid enough to go into the cellar. As they're saying this, the cellar door slams shut of its own accord — if they had gone down the stairs, they would have been trapped. Later in the book, the (gay) male main character remarks to the female main character that this is the point in the story where they're supposed to have sex. They look at each other for a moment, and then the woman says, "So what do you want to do in the five minutes that would have taken?"
- Animorphs used these more than average. Especially common are references to the tropes of Star Trek — things like Rubber-Forehead Aliens (not used in Animorphs), or Frickin' Laser Beams (which is used).
- Robert A. Heinlein was particularly fond of having his characters do this, particularly ones who are established authors in-universe and who proceed to comment on the narrative structure of their own stories. The Cat Who Walks Through Walls is a prime example.
- Otherland, by Tad Williams, contains an elaborately drawn out discussion of the Shaggy Dog Story trope throughout the novels, triggered initially by the presence of a Bushman character whose tribal mythology is largely based on the concept, and later getting folded into the main plot by means of the Other's manipulations and the hidden agenda of Mr. Sellars.
- In The Shattering Prelude to Cataclysm, Thrall realizes that the Horde is suffering from the What Measure Is a Non-Human? trope, as many of the young warriors started out killing undead in the war against the Scourge, and thus are somewhat desensitized to killing living opponents, making them more keen on going to war with the Alliance.
- Early in The Council of Shadows by S.M. Stirling Ellen says "I'm supposed to take a level in badassery, right?" in reference to her training for self-defense against Shadowspawn.
- The Lincoln Lawyer discussed the possibility of his client, Louis Roulet, facing a civil suit for the crime he's accused of even if he's not convicted.
Live Action TV
- An episode of Get Smart opens with Max receiving the name of a KAOS spy from a midget in an otherwise vacant warehouse. Max immediately tells the informant that he was surprised that he wasn't shot dead right before revealing the name. Because of the surprise, Max forgets the name and asks the informant to repeat it. The informant is then killed by a sniper before repeating the name.
- The titular character of Castle does this CONSTANTLY. He's a big fan of CIA/NSA conspiracies, alien abductions, time travel, and in an episode where a murder victim has a butler, he would dearly love to say "The Butler Did It."
- Host segments on Mystery Science Theater 3000 were frequently dedicated to discussions that would deconstruct themes and tropes found in the movies the main characters were watching. The episode Eegah!, for example, has one relating to the Missing Mom of the film, and how it was a plot setup commonly used in television of the period. The Bots also lampshade the whole thing by pointing out they don't technically have a mom either.
Mythology and Religions
- Older Than Dirt: In The Epic of Gilgamesh, when the titular character is approached by Ishtar, who asks him to marry her. He then proceeds to list the examples of fictional charactersnote who ended up in a bad fate because of sleeping with divine beings.
- This episode of Buttersafe, in which a boy without pants struggles to work out if the "Not Wearing Pants" Dream trope is being subverted, Double Subverted or played straight.
- An unusual example in Homestuck, in that the trope in question is only a trope in-universe. Karkat accuses himself of falling into a common pitfall of Rom Com characters, but the trolls' fourfold system of romance makes their tropes somewhat different from ours.
FCG: DO YOU REALIZE WHAT YOU'VE BECOME? YOU ARE THE SAD JOKE CHARACTER IN THE ROMCOM, YOU KNOW THE GUY I'M TALKING ABOUT.
FCG: WHO'S GREEDY AND INDISCRIMINATE ABOUT FILLING EVERY QUADRANT, TOTALLY OBLIVIOUS TO IT, AND IN THE END HAS FUCKALL TO SHOW FOR IT.
- In Knights Of Buena Vista, when Mary and Adriana are discussing the backtory for Elsa and Anna (this is a Campaign Comic covering Frozen), Mary notes that estranged people who love each other, and have to overcome what separates them, worked in Die Hard.
- The TV Tropes podcast On the Tropes is all about this trope
- As is the sister (brother?) show On The Rocks