Tropes first documented between the invention of radio (1890) and the emergence of television as a mass medium of entertainment (1939).
and Cinema provided two entirely new media, for the first time in millennia, and originated many tropes. This is also the time of the first Super Heroes
, and the majority of Sherlock Holmes
TV, as we generally know it, was invented in 1928, but regular broadcasts didn't start until 1936 in the U.K. and Nazi Germany
and 1939 in the U.S. and U.S.S.R.
- Accidental Aiming Skills: The Gold Rush, 1925.
- Adorably Precocious Child: Edogawa Rampo's [1894-1965] detective novels.
- Alertness Blink: Pick an early-20th Century cartoon. Steamboat Willie (1928) is a good starting point.
- Alien Invasion: The War of the Worlds, by H. G. Wells, 1898
- Aliens Are Bastards: The War of the Worlds 1898
- All Part of the Show: Pagliacci by Ruggiero Leoncavallo, 1892
- Ancient Astronauts: Edison's Conquest of Mars, 1898
- Animal Talk: The Wonderful Adventures Of Nils and The Further Adventures Of Nils by Selma Lagerlöf, 1906 and 1907.
- Anthology Film: Intolerance, 1916
- Antiquated Linguistics: H. P. Lovecraft, 1890-1937
- Aside Glance: silent comedy films
- Asteroid Miners: Edison's Conquest of Mars, Garrett P. Serviss, 1898
- Author Vocabulary Calendar: Bram Stoker uses the word "voluptuous" a lot in Dracula, 1897.
- Banana Peel: Early 20th-century pop culture.
- Banana Republic: Named and used in O. Henry's 1904 novel Cabbages And Kings, and the concept also shows up in Joseph Conrad's Nostromo from the same year.
- Blackmail Is Such an Ugly Word: 1930s Hollywood
- The Book Cipher: Sherlock Holmes novel The Valley Of Fear, 1915
- Bridge Logic: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, 1900
- Broke Episode: A lot of films and literature made during the Great Depression featured impoverished protagonists.
- Busman's Holiday: Sherlock Holmes, 1893
- Catching Some Z's: "The Katzenjammer Kids" used this Stock Visual Metaphor before Charles Schulz was even born in 1922.
- China Takes Over the World: The War In The Air by H. G. Wells, and The Lord Of The World by Robert Hugh Benson, both published 1907-1908.
- Cliffhanger Copout: Undersea Kingdom, 1936
- Climbing Climax: King Kong, 1933
- Coat, Hat, Mask: The Invisible Man, 1897
- Contractual Purity: Shirley Temple drinking. *gasp* She was in her twenties.
- The Convenient Store Next Door: The Sherlock Holmes story The Red Headed League, 1891
- Conveyor Belt-O-Doom: Joseph Arthurs' melodrama Blue Jeans, 1890
- Creepy Child: The Turn of the Screw, 1898
- Criminal Mind Games: Sherlock Holmes
- Cyber Punk: Metropolis 1927, by Fritz Lang.
- Dawson Casting: 16-year-old Judy Garland as 11-year-old Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, 1939.
- The Day The Music Lied: Popeye cartoon films, 1933-onward.
- Death in the Clouds: The Trope Namer is the Agatha Christie novel first published in 1935.
- Death Ray: The War of the Worlds, by H. G. Wells, 1898
- Designer Babies: Aldous Huxley's 1932 novel Brave New World
- Disney Villain Death: An old Mickey Mouse comic had a giant fall to his death.
- Dramedy: Charlie Chaplin's The Kid. 1921.
- Drunken Montage: Hollywood, 1930s or even earlier.
- Dying Dream: Ambrose Bierce's short story "An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge," 1890
- Easily Thwarted Alien Invasion: The War of the Worlds 1898, using the "planet takes care of the invaders by itself" variant.
- Elaborate Underground Base: The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston LeRoux, 1909
- Elves Versus Dwarves: The Time Machine by H. G. Wells, 1895, with the Eloi and Morlocks. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, 1937, used it with actual elves and dwarves.
- Epic Tracking Shot: The Last Laugh, 1924
- Epunymous Title: The Importance of Being Earnest, 1895
- Exploitation Film: Traffic in Souls, 1913
- Fair Play Whodunnit: The Sherlock Holmes story The Red Headed League, 1891
- Fakeout Escape: "The Escape of Arsene Lupin", 1906
- Fictional United Nations: The Fall Of A Nation (1916) by Thomas Dixon Jr predicts a "Parliament of Nations" forming after World War I goes on six years longer than it did in real life. It's even more useless than the actual League Of Nations was.
- Fingertip Drug Analysis: The Mystery Of The Leaping Fish (1916)
- Fog of Doom: The Purple Cloud by M.P. Shiel, 1901, and the Martians' Black Smoke weapon in The War of the Worlds.
- Foot Popping: Recommended in The Hays Code (1930) and in "An Outline of Motion Picture Etiquette" in the October 1923 issue of Screenland.
- Green-Skinned Space Babe: Deja Thoris of Edgar Rice Burroughs' A Princess Of Mars, published 1912
- Hash House Lingo: Fatty Arbuckle short film The Waiters' Ball, 1916
- Hook Hand: Peter Pan, 1904
- Ignore The Disability: 1930s, if not earlier.
- I Hit You, You Hit the Ground: "There'll be only two blows struck: I'll hit him, and he'll hit the earth.": Little Nemo, 1909.
- Inscrutable Aliens: The Martians in The War of the Worlds. Humanity can only speculate on what they want with Earth.
- Ironic Nursery Tune: Mahler's Symphony No. 1, 1899
- Just for the Heli of It: It Happened One Night, 1934
- Lensman Arms Race: Lensman novels, 1937
- Like You Were Dying: Lucy Maud Montgomery's The Blue Castle, 1926
- Loves My Alter Ego: Roxane, Cyrano and Christian in Cyrano de Bergerac, 1897
- Mad Scientist Laboratory: Metropolis, 1927
- Magic Feather: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, 1900
- Marilyn Maneuver: Mack Sennett short The Surf Girl, 1916
- Meat-O-Vision: The Gold Rush, 1925
- Meet Cute: 1930s screwball comedies; also Christine and Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston LeRoux, 1909
- Merchandise-Driven: The Little Orphan Annie radio show from The Thirties.
- Monumental Battle: King Kong, 1933
- Monumental Damage Resistance: Deluge, 1933
- Noodle Incident: The Sherlock Holmes canon, if not earlier.
- Ominous Latin Chanting: Justified [as it's set in a church and involves a villain who's a religious hypocrite] in the Act I finale of Puccini's Tosca, 1900; The modern, more random usages of the trope probably date from Alexander Nevsky, 1938.
- Omniscient Database: 1890s and Sherlock Holmes
- One-Letter Name: K of The Castle, Franz Kafka, 1926
- Pardon My Klingon: Utopia, Limited, Gilbert and Sullivan, 1893. Lalabalele talala! Callabale lalabalica falahle!
- Phony Newscast: The War of the Worlds (radio version), 1938
- Pillow Fight: Thomas Edison's (very) short film Pillow Fight, 1897.
- Planet Looters: The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells, 1898
- Product Placement: Sweet Corporal tobacco, Princess Nicotine, 1909
- Putting on the Reich: Alexander Nevsky, 1938 (The Teutonic Knights with swastikas) and It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis, 1939.
- Rain of Blood: Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles, 1891
- Rich Idiot with No Day Job: The Scarlet Pimpernel 1903
- The Right of a Superior Species: The War of the Worlds, 1898.
- Robot War: R.U.R., 1920
- Rule 34: The Tijuana Bible.
- Scooby-Doo Hoax: The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 1901
- Send In The Search Team: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, 1899
- Shamgri-La: 1933 novel Lost Horizon by James Hilton
- Stop Trick: J. Stuart Blackton's Enchanted Drawing, 1900; and George Méliès' A Trip to the Moon, 1902.
- Stuffed into the Fridge: Sometime in the early 20th century.
- Super Hero: The Shadow comic (1931), Mandrake The Magician (1934), The Phantom (1936), and Superman (1938)
- Take a Moment to Catch Your Death: Any hard-boiled radio drama.
- Take the Wheel: Sherlock, Jr., 1924
- The Tape Knew You Would Say That: The Greeks Had a Word for Them, 1932
- Terminally Dependent Society: E.M. Forster's '"The Machine Stops", 1909
- Terrorists Without a Cause: The Secret Agent, 1907
- That Was Objectionable: The Marx Brothers' Duck Soup, 1933.
- Time Stands Still: "The New Accelerator" by H. G. Wells, 1901
- Tripod Terror: The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells, 1898
- Turned Against Their Masters: The robots do it in R.U.R., 1920
- Uterine Replicator: Aldous Huxley's 1932 novel Brave New World
- Video Phone: Metropolis, 1927. Germany got real ones in 1936, but stopped using them during WWII.
- Video Wills: The Greeks Had a Word for Them, 1932, using a phonograph.
- The Voiceless: Harpo Marx
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The Invisible Man, 1897. While there may have been earlier versions, this is notably the first time man-made technology grants the powers that drive the gifted insane.
- Working the Same Case: The Hardy Boys, 1927, if not earlier
- Wrong Insult Offence: The title character in Cyrano de Bergerac, 1897.
- Xtreme Kool Letterz: Aleister Crowley popularized the "Magick" spelling for "magic" in the modern western world.