Exploited Trope
aka: Exploited

Sometimes it's obvious a trope is going to happen. This is for when a Genre Savvy character knows a trope is going to happen, or is happening already, but rather than trying to deny, change, or even hasten the trope, this character instead decides to take advantage of it.

Perhaps a Mook knows he is turning good, but also realizes Redemption Equals Death. So he uses his upcoming death as a Thanatos Gambit against the Big Bad. Or a girl in a romantic comedy knows whom she will end up with, and knowing that the other guy feels that I Just Want My Beloved to Be Happy, helps get another girl to be noticed by that guy.

Note that a clever character might also take into account the upcoming trope might be a trick, and this is a Subverted Trope. Thus that character might plan for either outcome.

Compare Invoked Trope (which is deliberately trying to make a trope happen), Flaw Exploitation.

Contrast Defied Trope.

Trope relationships:


  • In recent years, Bud Light commercials adopted the formula that whenever the eponymous drink gets involved, someone says, "Here we go!" For Super Bowl XLVI, a Bud Light commercial is released involving a rescue dog named Weego who fetches Bud Light bottles and kegs whenever someone calls for him. ("Here, Weego!")
  • On a similar note, a series of Discover Card commercials with the slogan "We treat you like you'd treat you" have featured someone phoning a Discover customer-service center, and speaking to a service person who's played by the same actor as themselves. Once this pattern because well-established, they released one in which the service person is not a metaphor for service-quality, but the caller's actual twin sister.

Anime and Manga
  • In Pokémon, each town inexplicably has an identical Nurse Joy and Officer Jenny, all from a common family. The Magikarp Salesman, a recurring con-artist who tries to sell useless Pokémon to James, tries to pass himself off as a similar family to assure wary marks, but he's actually the same guy each time.
  • Digimon Adventure: During the episode "The Arrival of Skullgreymon," Tai exploits Defence Mechanism Superpower by deliberately putting himself in harm's way, knowing that one of the requirements of Digivolution is that the Digimon's human partner has to be in danger. It works too well; Greymon dark digivolves into SkullGreymon and goes on a rampage.
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • During the Frieza Saga, Vegeta exploits Came Back Strong by having Krillin mortally wound him and then having Dende heal him, knowing that Saiyans get power boosts upon recovering from near-fatal injuries. Unfortunately, while he does get much stronger, it's still not nearly enough to make a difference against Frieza.
    • Cell exploits Vegeta's pride and Blood Knight attitude to convince him to help Cell absorb Android 18 and reach his perfect form, knowing that Vegeta can't resist the challenge. Vegeta does so, and Cell proceeds to kick his ass without even trying. While he does so, Cell even takes the time to rub it in Vegeta's face, remarking that he never would have been able to reach his perfect form were it not for Vegeta's arrogance and stupidity.
    • Goku's entire plan to defeat Cell hinges on Gohan's Psychoactive Powers, knowing that Gohan becomes much stronger when enraged.
    • In the Buu Saga, Piccolo, in a desperate attempt to stall for time while Goten and Trunks train, attempts to exploit Death Is Cheap by telling Buu that he can pass the time for his opponent to be ready by killing the remaining humans on Earth, knowing that the Dragon Balls can be used to bring everyone back; this backfires when Buu proceeds to use a Beam Spam attack, fittingly called the "Human Extinction Attack," to kill every last human on Earth in less than two minutes, without even bothering to leave Kami's Lookout in the process.
    • Piccolo successfully exploits Year Inside, Hour Outside shortly after this by having Trunks and Goten train in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber; though he can only stall Buu for a few minutes at most, those few minutes enable Trunks and Goten to get several hours worth of training.
  • One Piece: On one occasion, a Genre Savvy Dark Action Girl exploited Wouldn't Hit a Girl to delay Sanji from saving Robin, knowing that Sanji won't fight a girl even to save his own life.

Comic Books
  • Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog: Sonic once ended up on the losing end of a Curb-Stomp Battle when Eggman used a suit of Powered Armor that was specifically designed to counter and defeat Sonic. The next time he tries, Sonic brings the other Freedom Fighters and Team Chaotix along. Eggman breaks the armor out again, but the suit was designed to outfight Sonic, and only Sonic. Thus, Sonic exploits the Crippling Overspecialization of the armor in the second encounter, and it's Eggman that ends up on the end of a Curb-Stomp Battle.
  • League Of Champions: Icestar is captured and tied up by the villain, who subjects the hero to several panels of Evil Gloating. Once the villain has explained his plan, Icestar effortlessly breaks free.
  • Sonic the Comic: In one story, Sonic faces off against Predicto, a robot that Robotnik programmed to predict Sonic's every move and counter it. When faced with this, Sonic ultimately gives up. Having been programmed to believe that Sonic would never give up, Predicto suffers a Logic Bomb and self-destructs... which is exactly what Sonic expected him to do.

Fan Fiction

Film (Animated)
  • In Tangled Flynn and Rapunzel exploit the Power Glows trope when they use her Magic Hair to find a way out of a flooding cave.
  • Frozen had Prince Hans exploit the trope of Love at First Sight in order to lure the target in and get exactly what they want: to marry the naive Anna and depose her sister Queen Elsa to take over the kingdom.
  • In The Lion King, Pumbaa and especially Timon exploit Predator Turned Protector when they raise the orphaned lion cub Simba. While Pumbaa feels sorry for the poor cub, Timon initially refuses to adopt him due to his fear of the young predator, and changes his mind only when he realizes Simba can defend them from other predators. Which he does when Pumbaa is attacked by the hungry lioness Nala.

Film (Live-Action)
  • In The Dark Knight, Harvey Dent manages to take control of dramatic events at a trial and turn them to his advantage, effectively exploiting Courtroom Antics. An accused gangster tries to shoot him in the middle of the trial - Dent promptly punches and disarms him, stunning the entire court. When the judge calls for a recess, Dent hams it up: "Your honor, I'm not finished!"
  • When Tom is chased by half the student body in PCU, he hides from them, and then realizes The Pit needs lots of people at their party, so they can raise money. He then gets the people to chase him to the party.

  • Animorphs: On several occasions, the Animorphs exploit Visser Three's status as a Bad Boss, knowing that his leadership makes the Yeerks less effective. Indeed, it works to their advantage on multiple occasions; more than once, some of the Visser's subordinates have found evidence that the Animorphs were in fact humans, due to such clues as a pair of jeans floating in the sea after a confrontation by a beach. However, due to their fear of the Visser's intolerance and possible wrath, they choose not to question his beliefs (Visser Three was firmly convinced that the Animorphs could only be Andalites due to his belief that the Andalites would never share their technology, especially the morphing technology, with other species).

Live-Action TV

Video Games
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, you find out that Zelda/Hylia herself exploited Link's series-common trait of The Determinator. She knew that if it meant rescuing Zelda from danger, he would go to any lengths to ensure it, without any thought of his own safety. All of this was to ensure that he would be able to wield the Triforce in order to vanquish Demise...but this doesn't mean she didn't feel intense remorse for doing so, and, as such, sealed herself in sleep for thousands of years to maintain the seal on Demise so that Link could have more time to permanently finish the job.
  • GDI turns the tables on Nod in Tiberian Dawn by exploiting Kane's Hero with Bad Publicity media manipulations — they play up the effectiveness of the manipulation, making it appear as if the Security Council has suspended GDI's funding pending an investigation. The reality is that the Security Council held back the funding because GDI's commanding officer asked them to, baiting Nod into launching a full-scale offensive... just in time for the commanding officer to return with an enlarged budget for GDI.
  • Sly Cooper: Both Clockwerk and Le Paradox have exploited Always Save the Girl by holding Carmelita Fox hostage, knowing that Sly will run to her rescue no matter how obvious the trap is.
  • Organization XIII's entire Evil Plan in Kingdom Hearts II hinged on using Sora's Chronic Hero Syndrome to their advantage; indeed, even when Sora is informed that slaying The Heartless enables the Organization to collect the released hearts and he's helping their plan along by doing so, he just can't sit back and let the creatures hurt innocent people. They also exploit Always Save the Girl by kidnapping Kairi, knowing that with Kairi's life in danger, Sora will be that much more motivated to fight Heartless.
  • Yandere Simulator allows the Villain Protagonist to exploit Barefoot Suicide: when shoving a student from the school's rooftop, she'll slip their shoes off of their feet and lay them down near the edge of the roof, making it appear as if they took their own life and, so long as she wasn't seen by a witness and doesn't disturb the body afterwards, avoiding suspicion.
  • Persona 4: Arena: General Teddie exploits Big Brother Instinct by claiming he has Nanako, Yu's cousin, captive, knowing that Nanako's safety is one of Yu's top priorities and will motivate him to participate in the P-1 Grand Prix.

Web Animation

Web Comics

Web Original

Western Animation

Other/Multiple Media
  • In BIONICLE, Big Bad Makuta put the Physical God Mata Nui into an endless sleep, but he knows that heroes will wake him up again Because Destiny Says So. Rather than waste a ton of resources trying to stop the heroes, he arranges things so that he's in control of Mata Nui's body when it wakes.
  • Pink Means Feminine was exploited by making it the color for breast cancer awareness.

Alternative Title(s): Exploited