Here at TV Tropes
, there are a lot of tropers, and a lot of tropes. As a result, In Jokes
arise, and Tropes about Tropes begin to form.
As a result, certain words, terms, and patterns come to carry implications when used in the names of tropes. When creating a new trope, one must consider whether the resulting trope name invokes such implications. Sometimes, use of these words in other contexts is justified, while in others, it only causes confusion, in which case changing the trope name to remove the Loaded Trope Word
may be preferable. When used intentionally where not appropriate, these can become problematic snowclones
Note that, where Loaded Trope Words
appear in very common English phrases, such as Masquerade Ball
, Game Face
, or, say, "Noodle Soup", they may be used without becoming problematic snowclones
Here, such words, terms, and patterns are identified, as a reference, with their trope etymology identified.
- Chekhov - originating with Chekhov's Gun and referring to Anton Chekhov, Chekhov tropes often imply that something introduced early in the plot will come to be used later, or fail to be used.
- Cthulhu - originating from the Cthulhu Mythos, this word generally refers to a ridiculously powerful, often god-like, being. As an example of usage, see Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?.
- Dragon - originating with The Dragon, this word is sometimes used to refer to the second-in-charge to The Big Bad, which is only occasionally an actual dragon. Efforts are being made to unload this trope word, as literal dragons need to be referred to in trope names, too.
- Face and Heel - originally from Professional Wrestling, these words, when used together, refer to Good and Evil, respectively. For instance, a Face-Heel Turn is where a Good character turns Evil.
- Fridge - originating with Fridge Logic, tropes with the word Fridge, especially at the start of them, generally refer to situations in which the audience has a delayed reaction to something.
- Gambit - originating with the Xanatos Gambit, a Gambit trope is about a plan of some kind. Unlike normal English usage, a Gambit trope does not have to involve a high level of risk in order for a bigger potential reward. It certainly has nothing to do with Chess, where a gambit is doing a material sacrifice in order to gain an advantage in position or tempo.
- Moment Of - originating with the Crowning Moment of Awesome, tropes with this in their name generally refer to significant moments within a story, or the lack thereof. As such, confusion may arise if one refers to, say, a "Moment Of Uncertainty", which would be a moment experienced by a character, rather than by the audience, were to become a trope name.
- Noodle - originating with the Noodle Incident, Noodle refers to things left to the imagination to fill in. Use can be justified where referring to something resembling an actual noodle.
- Ship - originating with Shipping, a Ship trope often refers to relationships, rather than boats. Take care, as tropes that play with the Double Entendre of this word may confuse if not worded carefully.
- Xanatos - also originally referring to a character in Gargoyles, a Xanatos trope involves some form of mastermind, typically one that has a preponderance for overly complex plots. We replaced most of them with 'Gambit' and created The Plan as part of the unloading process.
- Yay - originating with Ho Yay, a trope using the word Yay generally involve sexual tension or other implied sexual activity, generally without any overt indication confirming the tension or implication.
Restricted word usage
- Badass - while this word is generally an adjective describing something as particularly harsh or masculine, tropes with this word refer specifically to characters fitting the description of Badass. For examples of its use, see Badass Creed, Badass Bookworm, and Took a Level in Badass.
- Fantastic - while this word is often treated as a superlative, meaning great or amazing, in trope names this is generally used to refer to something relating to Fantasy. See Fantastic Aesop and Fantastic Science as examples of the use of this trope word.
- X Ball - tropes named as an "X Ball" typically imply that X is a property that gets given to a certain character for the sake of the plot (based on the idea of an imaginary ball which can be thrown from person to person and give them property X while they hold it). See Idiot Ball for the most common trope with this naming pattern. Use in other contexts, such as Big Ball of Violence, does not carry this implication.
- Artistic License — X : These are the pages for the common ways that creators are factually wrong, because being correct wouldn't serve the story as well. We used to try to distinguish between factual errors that were in the service of the story ("Wrong, but Good"), and those that were made by a creator who simply didn't do the research (the "You Fail X Forever" and "Somewhere an X is crying" tropes were "Wrong, and Bad"), but experience proved that that distinction is impossible to judge from outside, and the "but Bad" pages became a morass of complaining and ego-stroking. We now give all factual errors the benefit of the doubt.
- Deus Ex X or X Ex Machina - originating from the concept of a Deus ex Machina, most tropes following these naming patterns are puns on the original, and involve either creation/application of gods or an unjustified solution of problems using generic and standard methods. See Ind Ex Machina for a comprehensive list of tropes following these naming patterns.
- Everything's comparative With X - tropes with this naming structure generally indicate that X either has an effect (the comparative) on a work into which it is added, or improves (or worsens) a work purely by its presence. Typically, the comparative is "Better", or occasionally "Worse", although other comparatives may be used if it improves the trope name. See Garnishing The Story for an index of existing tropes using this naming pattern.
- Hollywood X - tropes which are a gross oversimplification of a complicated or multi-faceted thing, place, or field of knowledge. Differs from the Artistic License - X tropes in that Artistic License - X is for when the creators are factually wrong. See the Hollywood Index for a list of the tropes that use this naming convention.
- Our X Are Different - Many standard concepts used in stories are standardised to the point that most works will stick to a simple formula. Tropes with this naming pattern generally break that simple formula, and do things differently when it comes to X. May use "is" if X is singular. For an index of existing tropes with this naming pattern, see Our Tropes Are Different.
- The character - This is reserved for omnipresent character roles (The Hero and The Rival, for example), as well as a very few specific characters who are widely agreed to satisfy the One Mario Limit. Beyond this, directly naming a trope after a specific character is a very risky proposition to avoid at all costs, because of a tendency for editors to assume that it's about the character, instead of the trope, and the fact that well-rounded characters have too many facets to simply pick one side of them and declare that it's the one they should be forever known by.
- X The Dog - Tropes following this naming pattern express actions by characters that influence the audience's opinion of them, or that demonstrate to the audience that a character has changed. Tropey the Wonder Dog is an index including the existing X The Dog tropes.
- X Bonus: Members of the audience who meet the criteria "X" get something extra. "X" can be something you do, something you know, or something you are.
No longer in use
- You Fail X Forever - tropes that had this naming pattern now typically go by the trope naming pattern Artistic License - X. For a list of tropes with this pattern, see Artistic License - Indexes.