Jigsaw: Drop the gun, Mr. Luger! Luger: I don't have one. Jigsaw: You're not carrying a weapon? Luger: I don't believe in them. [Jigsaw kicks over a pistol] Jigsaw: Pick up the gun. (beat) Drop the gun, Mr. Luger!
Compare Exploited Trope (not making the trope happen, just taking advantage of one happening). Contrast Defied Trope, Discussed Trope.
TECHNICAL NOTE: On the wiki typing the word "invoked" anywhere within an example turns off the automatic YMMV flagging (the scales) for that example.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
In YuYu Hakusho's Dark Tournament arc, Kuwabara deliberately invokes Yusuke's Unstoppable Rage by allowing Toguro to kill him, or so he thinks — Toguro doesn't actually kill him, but letting Yusuke think he had has the same effect. Since Toguro wanted to fight Yusuke at max power, he probably counts as invoking it too.
Mahou Sensei Negima!! has Kotaro invoking Idiot Hero, claiming that Negi would be a better fighter if he acted more like an idiot. It actually makes some sense, as Negi's greatest weakness is that he tends to overthink everything.
In Gundam Seed Destiny, Meyrin Hawke helps Athrun escape from soldiers searching for him by invoking Distracted by the Sexy via Modesty Towel. Two invoked tropes for the price of one! Extra points: she wasn't actually naked underneath the towel, she just got her hair wet and then wrapped the towel around her clothes to make it look like she'd just gotten out of the shower.
Code Geass. It's simple enough. If you beg someone, anyone, to save your defenceless, Token Mini-Moe Empress, then there's a good chance that your Large Ham, sort-of-enemy will pull out a shiny new mecha and do so.
In Dungeon Zenith, the keepers of the dungeon create a rumor about a kidnapped princess. But they unwillingly use the name of an existing princess. Then she walks to the dungeon with her secret lover, to make her father believe he saved her.
The Cabin in the Woods is basically Invoked Trope: The Movie. Practically every horror movie cliche, from Artifacts of Doom lying around where anyone can find them, to creepy old guys giving ominous warnings, to teenagers having sex in monster-infested woods, are all set up (at great effort and expense) by a massive conspiracy.
Mr. Jigsaw: Drop your gun, Mr. Luger! Det. Luger: I don't have one. Jigsaw: You're not carrying a weapon? Luger: I don't believe in them. [Jigsaw kicks a spare pistol over] Jigsaw: Pick up the gun. [Luger picks the gun up] Jigsaw: Drop the gun, Mr. Luger!
Attempted in Good Omens, where Anathema Device, after trying all other methods to find her book, dramatically pretends to give up, flop down, and let her gaze casually fall on a patch of dirt.
In Guards! Guards!!, the main characters invoke the Million to One Chance during a critical arrow shot - they deliberately make it harder to aim (using blindfolds and standing on one leg), in order to get the odds of a direct hit down to exactly a million to one. They don't succeed, mind, but when the dragon blows up the building they're standing on, the narration continues, "Fortunately, the odds of anyone surviving the ensuing explosion were exactly a million to one."
Quite a lot of this happens in the same book, in fact. When the Big Bad (or The Dragon to a dragon, depending how you look at it) calls guards to arrest Captain Vimes, the guards are reluctant to try to arrest him as he is clearly unarmed and outnumbered.
Later in the series, Vetinari orders Vimes to hand in his badge, specifically to invoke Turn in Your Badge and the inevitable determined solving of the crime afterward. Subverted in that Vetinari realizes too late that he's triggered a Heroic BSOD in Vimes instead.
The GURPS Discworld Role Playing Game actually has rules for this: A spell that lets you twist narrative tropes, as well as a caution that just because you set yourself up as the Hero Who Saves the Town From the Evil Troll doesn't mean you're not actually One of the Dozen Hapless Characters Who Get Killed by the Troll Before the Hero Shows Up or, if the story is being told from a troll perspective, The Human That Gets Smooshed by the Troll. "Troll stories aren't very subtle."
On the other hand, when Huckleberry Finn attempts the same, it ends in disaster.
The villain in The Jennifer Morgue by Charles Stross casts a reality-warping spell which forces his life into the structure of a James Bond movie, with him as the villain. He plans on stopping the spell after he captures the person playing the Bond role; that way, the pawn goes from being a super-suave man of action to a simple civil servant out of his depth, and it'll be too late for anyone else to step in. He thinks it's the hero—it turns out that the hero is actually the Bond girl, and his girlfriend is Bond.
Several characters in Mercedes Lackey's Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms series deliberately invoke tropes when it will help them or harm their enemies. They have force due to the presence of an ambient, powerful magic in the land called the Tradition, which causes events to follow the fairytale they most resemble.
In John Dies at the End, John and Dave try to lure out a ghost by splitting up, with John taking a shower and Dave taking a nap, while loudly announcing their plan and their fervent hope that they will not be attacked by a ghost under these circumstances.
In The Enchanted Forest Chronicles Princess Alianora's parents invited an evil fairy to her christening in hopes that she'd curse her, presumably with the intended result that she be rescued by a handsome prince. Instead the fairy, possibly thrilled by the novelty of being invited, had a wonderful time and went home without cursing anyone.
Live Action TV
In Hornblower episode "The Examination for Lieutenant" (also known as "The Fire Ships"), Captain Pellew invokes Tactful Translation. Upon learning that the Spanish intend to break their alliance with the British, Pellew is too flustered to formulate a reply, and simply tells Hornblower (acting as a translator/interpretor, speaking French with the Spaniard) to tell the Spanish officer the sort of thing Pellew would say, leaving Hornblower to figure out an appropriate reply on the spot while Pellew grits his teeth. The Spanish guy ends up impressed, never realizing that Pellew was seething.
Cathy has tried, at least once, to invoke You Were Trying Too Hard, declaring that she was not looking for a boyfriend, and therefore a suitable one should pop up any minute now. It didn't work.
The Big Finish Doctor Who audio drama The Doomwood Curse is based entirely around this: Some space nanites are making a fictional book true, and through careful manipulation of the tropes the Doctor is able to reverse the effect: The only way to get the solution to the carrier (a highwayman) in time is to make it a valuable item that "Must get there before sunrise!".
In the d20 Modern Sourcebook Cyberscape, you can get an implant called Organ Remapping. "Organ remapping is an extensive set of minor cybernetic devices that relocate a recipientís internal organs and add safety valves, cutoffs, back-ups, and alternatives to many of the more critical and fragile organic systems." So any character can invoke Organ Dodge.
Same game, different trope: Combat Clairvoyance. Psionic characters can use a power called Combat Claivoyance, and any character in a campaign with Cyberscape can use Kata Calculators/Computers, which are chips implanted into the brain comparing the battle to millions of battle sequences stored, and calculating the most probable next move from the opponent, giving advance warning to the user.
Desann, Big Bad of Jedi Outcast, invokes Shooting Superman and then (this is the part he hasn't really thought through) It's Personal as part of a Batman Gambit to manipulate Kyle Katarn. Kyle has given up his Jedi abilities and connection to the Force deliberately, but Desann makes him really wish he had them by forcing him to fight him, a powerful Dark Jedi, with normal weapons — and inevitably lose, failing to save his girlfriend. This leads to Kyle returning to the Valley of the Jedi to reconnect with the Force for purposes of revenge, showing Desann the way there.
The Pokťmon move Grass Knot invokes Broken Heel. It uses grass to trip the opponent. The amount of damage depends on the opponent's weight.
GLaDOS: This is the Computer Intelligence Training and Enrichment Center Human Test Subject Research Center or SinTech. But why don't we all just agree to call it the hub?
Mass Effect has the quarian-geth war. It officially started when the geth, a mechanical Slave Race created by the quarians, began to Grow Beyond Their Programming, but they were peaceful and just pondered the nature of their existence ("Do these units have a soul?"). The quarians, who happened upon a rare case of Genre Savvy for a civilisation in this situation and saw where this was going, decided to shut their errant children down. However, some amongst the quarian populace protested. When the protesters were targeted with arrests and eventually violence by police, the geth retaliated. Violently. In the quarians' attempt to defy the Robot War trope, they accidentally ended up invoking it. Oops.
Elan in The Order of the Stick is fond of these, often pointing out that they're obligatory. For example, in On the Origin of PCs, when Roy is recruiting members for an adventuring party, Elan gets Roy to sit in a corner, looking mysterious, to invoke You All Meet in an Inn. All the Order of the Stick characters are reasonably Genre (and Rule, for that matter) Savvy, but Elan's a bard and seems to feel that invoking tropes is part of his job.
In this comic, Elan insisted that the party allow themselves to be captured because a net had fallen on them. When the other two party members simply lift up the net (it was made for catching game, not humanoids) and try to escape, they're beaten up by orcs and then captured anyway.
Cue smug Bard, and audience realization that a man who actually DOES live in a world of narrative tropes probably has some methodto his madness.
Elan:Fight, fight, fight, fight the urge to say "I told you so!"
Subverted in a later comic, when Elan insists that another character's poor choice of words are inevitably going to lead to his immediate death. By this point, everyone around him is so used to successfully invoked tropes that they look around, waiting for a trope that never comes.
O-Chul: I'll be honest. I did not actually expect to live through this. Elan: Don't say that! Whenever someone says that after surviving something dangerous, something totally random pops out and kills them! All:(look around, nothing happens) Elan: Well, most of the time, at least. Just don't announce that you're going to retire tomorrow, OK?
Roy has actually taken advantage of this tendency of Elan's, as Haley points out:
Haley: Elan, don't you see? Roy let you loose in the desert thinking that you would trip over the main plot! Elan: So? Haley:You DID!
The Sluggy Freelance crew is fond of this. The most notable occasion is during the Bug Squisher Quest: when they find the book of GŁd, Torg makes ZoŽ wait until he could exclaim that nothing could save them now, noting that saying that made sure that something would in fact save them.
It doesn't work. However, when Torg explains what he was doing, ZoŽ responds "You mean like [when someone says] 'It can't get any worse?'" This time, it works.
In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, Frans Rayner quite flagrantly invokes the Conservation of Ninjutsu trope to try to defeat the titular ninja. He prepares an army of clones made from the doctor, so they'll all attack him at once. The doctor responds by switching sides so he can invoke some other tropes to gain the upper hand. " Dammit, Frans. You don't have to be a lone wolf any more! That attitude will get you killed!"
In Blip, when the subject of a nasty falling-out between K and Mary comes up, Liz announces that "It's intervention time! "Rashomon"-Style!" Hester recounts the tail end of the argument, as that was the only part she saw, then Liz gives a deliberately exaggerated version of what she saw, prompting Mary to set the record straight for both of them. Of course, forcing Mary to examine these memories in detail was Liz's goal in the first place.
In Gunnerkrigg Court, Kat very loudly and deliberately tempts fate, aiming to get kidnapped as the first step in a Batman Gambit: "Oh boy! I sure hope nothing happens to me now that I'm here all alone!" It works, partly: She does get kidnapped, but not by the hunky Mr Eglamore like she was hoping.
In A Loonatic's Tale, Jasper Zinc is a genius, there's no denying that. And he's fully aware that he's a genius. But he hasn't got a particularly high opinion of anyone else's intellect, so he deliberately avoids contractions and uses unnecessarily large words in order to make sure that the lowest common denominator is also aware that he's a genius.
MSF High: Examples include Runners, girls who run through the school with eyes closed and bookbags unzipped, looking for a cute guy who they will crash into, and subsquently date. One of them would be...
In The Angry Video Game Nerd "Porn Games" episode, the Nerd attempts to use his tendency to get ambushed by the characters he discusses in his game reviews to his advantage while reviewing the game Gigolo.
Angry Video Game Nerd: You know, that's really weird. Could you imagine if you're just sittin' around, minding your own business, when all of a sudden, some naked chick breaks in and starts humpin' the crap outta you? (looks at door, excited... nothing happens, he shakes his head) You know, that's really not fair. I get Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger, and Spider-Man... Bugs Bunny... but no naked chick. (shakes his head) Fuck this shit.
In The Simpsons, after Apu and Manjula have difficulty conceiving in "Eight Misbehavin'", Homer helps out by having them simulate a drunken teenage one-night-stand.
South Park: In "I'm A Little Bit Country", Cartman attempts to invoke a flashback to colonial times so he doesn't have to learn about the Constitutional Convention by reading. This being South Park, after a couple of false starts it eventually works.
In "A Dog and Pony Show", Rarity invokes Pity the Kidnapper when she is captured by Diamond Dogs in order to make them willing to let her go. It ends up working so well, they let her leave with all the jewels they made her find.
Pinkie Pie invokes a Spit Take in "Magical Mystery Cure" after Princess Celestia reveals that Twilight is now an alicorn princess.
Archer has the titular secret agent going off on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge when he finds out the chemo drugs he's supposed to be receiving are just Zima and sugar pills. As a pop culture-obsessed secret agent, however, he has his colleague film the whole thing and includes many, many references to things like Man on Fire and Magnum, P.I..