Exploited Trope
aka: Exploited

Sometimes it's obvious a trope is going to happen. This is for when a 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:


    open/close all folders 


  • 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.
    • Android 16 exploits Logical Weakness when fighting Cell. Since he's fully mechanical, Cell's bio-extraction ability will not work on him; thus, Cell can't just absorb him for an easy win.
    • Goku's entire plan to defeat Cell hinges on Gohan's Psychoactive Powers; he knows that Gohan is at his strongest when he's angry, and is counting on Cell to make Gohan angry.
    • 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 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.
  • Bleach: Aizen once exploited Hidden Disdain Reveal. When he revealed he was Evil All Along, his Captain, Shinji, freely admits he always knew that Aizen was a bad guy and he never liked him, and had in fact only chosen Aizen as his lieutenant to keep an eye on him. In response, Aizen smugly reveals that that's exactly what he was counting on when he replaced himself with a doppelganger months ago; since Shinji never liked Aizen or got to know him, he was unable to notice any strange behavior after the switch, so he never caught on to it.
  • Saint Seiya: whenever he dies, Phoenix Ikki comes back to life and is twice as strong, so when facing the next to invincible Shaka his plan hinged on making sure he got killed, and not simply knocked out, enough times to become stronger than his opponent. Much to Ikki's horror, Shaka caught on this and decided to remove his senses.
  • Shimoneta: Ayame uses a bedsheet as her 'Blue Snow' disguise, because she knows the Morals Decency Squad can't touch her, without risk of exposing her body. Plus, they'd potentially implicate themselves with a minor (Ayame is 17), which allows her to run right by them without fear of being caught.
  • Sword Art Online: At one point, a character named Grimlock exploits Deceased Fall-Guy Gambit by arranging for the Laughing Coffin guild to kill his wife, expecting that when the game ends, Akihiko Kayaba will be blamed for anyone who dies since he was the one who set up the death game in the first place.
  • InuYasha: During Sango's introductory arc, he makes an effort to exploit Immunity Disability and Feel No Pain. After manipulating Sango into believing that Inuyasha attacked her village and slaughtered everyone there for the Shikon Jewel shard Sango had found earlier (unsurprisingly, Naraku was the real culprit), he embeds another shard in her body that completely negates her ability to feel pain, intending that she'll fight Inuyasha to the death without ever realizing how badly she was hurt. Indeed, she doesn't even notice she's bleeding out until Inuyasha calls attention to her wounds.

     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)  

     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  

     Web Animation  


  • The Order of the Stick: In this strip, Tarquin, who is hanging from the edge of the Mechane attempts to exploit Evil Cannot Comprehend Good, thinking that Elan will save his life to prove the hero is better than the villain. Elan refuses and abandons his father, turning this trope into Evil Cannot Comprehend Good Is Not Dumb.
    • Tarquin in general, thanks to his Genre Savvy nature, is a master of invoking, exploiting, and otherwise profiting from tropes. In particular, knowing that there is always a hero who defeats the evil empire, he accepts it and tries to set up his own future downfall to go spectacularly, ensuring that he will be remembered as a legend; a legendary Evil Overlord, but evil nonetheless.

     Web Original  

  • When The Nostalgia Critic reviewed the Casper movie, the actual Casper showed up and anticipated it to be Suckiness Is Painful, so that he could finally scare people for real. It didn't actually turn out that way though, with the Critic eventually declaring the film So Okay, It's Average.
    • Mara Wilson successfully exploited Old Shame on Critic by showing the stuff he made as a kid, to retaliate for him mocking her work.
  • The episode "Exploiting Television Tropes for Financial and Personal Gain?" of Plumbing the Death Star is all about how the Duscher, Zammit, Jackson, and their two guests would abuse the conventions of television to make their lives easier. Jackson chooses to exploit Coincidental Broadcast, Duscher chooses Soapland Christmas (since merged into Twisted Christmas), Adam chooses Treasure Map, and Michael Williams chooses Special Guest, which ends up being the best suggestion.

     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