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Square Peg Round Trope
aka: Round Peg Square Trope
Remember kiddies, make sure it's the right shape first.

"Not every peg needs to be crammed into some trope hole, even if it seems vaguely apropos."

Sometimes an Entry Pimp forgets that Tropes Are Not Good and tries to shove an example from their favorite show into a trope where it doesn't fit. It may not be the fault of the contributor because the description of the trope left the emphasis on part B while part A is the important part. Or maybe the name of the trope was confusing. Or perhaps the original definition of the trope was something so specific or esoteric that new examples tend to be something related to, but not quite, the trope's original intent. But often it is because the contributor did not understand the standard and direction the trope was describing. This of course may result in a trope suffering Flanderization.

Tropes have several pieces that come together to make it the trope that it is. There is the main point of what the trope is about, and then there are appendages that help define it among other tropes. An appendage may be the more proper location for an example if it doesn't align with the main body. For minute differences, consult the Canonical List of Subtle Trope Distinctions.

Sometimes it's just not an example, it has some fleeting resemblance to the name or the examples but doesn't belong in the trope. Sometimes it's an aversion that isn't notable in any way — the series just didn't use that trope, but it's neither common nor expected in that genre, so why would you point out that, say, The Bible doesn't have Space Pirates?

Another common sign that an example does not fit is if words like "arguably" or "to some" are coated around it. A trope is either there or not there, and if the word "arguably" is used, it's probably not. Also, words like "arguably" and "possibly" are natter bait. Don't write "arguable examples".

One of the most common causes is simply that the name doesn't fit and invites misuse, which is why we have the trope repair shop and Renamed Tropes. Sometimes users just misread names (such as thinking that Scarf of Asskicking requires only a scarf, when it means scarf + asskicking).

In any case, if an example doesn't fit, don't add it. Someone else will just delete it anyway. The absolute worst case scenario is when the examples override the intentions of the description, which makes it a different trope altogether.

Compare Not a Subversion (an example is a legitimate Playing with a Trope, but it's usually labeled a subversion when it's another form of playing), Not a Deconstruction (an example or work is taken for a Deconstruction when it's used in some other way, usually just Darker and Edgier or subverted). The non-trope version of this is You Keep Using That Word.

See also Canonical List of Subtle Trope Distinctions for tropes that are easily confused with one another.

Since there are way too many individual examples to list, list examples of tropes that tend to get a lot of this.

  • In general, Audience Reactions about the general perception of a large group of people are often used to describe the feelings of a single person. For example, The Scrappy is meant to be used for characters hated by most people, not just characters YOU dislike.
  • This is also generally why tropes are not named after specific characters - people begin potholing any occurrence of said character's name to the trope, regardless of the topic at hand.

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  • Absolute Cleavage refers to when a character's outfit shows not just their chest, but part of their stomach too. Most examples are just "this character has noticeable cleavage".
  • Absurdly High Level Cap refers to a level cap that is way higher than what is needed for or can be reached by the endgame, not simply level caps with high numbers. Conversely, an Absurdly Low Level Cap is not a level cap with a low order of magnitude, but rather a cap that can be reached well before the endgame.
  • An Accidental Aesop is when a work that's meant to have no moral actually has a pretty good moral. However, many examples are more a case of Broken Aesop (in which the moral the work is trying to teach is contradicted by the work itself), Clueless Aesop (in which a moral's effectiveness is botched by poor presentation), Alternate Aesop Interpretation (where a moral is presented but fans see a different one), Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory (where people see religious symbolism, but not necessarily morals, in works where there is none), or just plain Fan Dumb.
  • An Actor Allusion has to be intentional. Two characters in different shows played by the same actor coincidentally being in an (arguably) similar situation is not an Actor Allusion.
  • It seems that the amount of times Adaptation Distillation gets used as this for gushing about adaptations someone likes outnumbers the times it is actually used correctly on this wiki. For the record, it's about works which manage to capture the essence of a Long Runner in a brief adaptation without resulting in Continuity Lockout.
    • Relatedly, people used to keep trying to push a work as a Reconstruction. No, distilling everything that makes a character or work awesome in an adaptation is Adaptation Distillation, hence the name. Luckily, this seems to have died down.
    • Much like the above, Adaptation Decay is supposed to be when certain elements of a show are simplified or modified so it can translate to whichever medium it's translating to. It's not supposed to mean "adaptation that I think is worse than the original." The misuse has gotten bad enough that its page now no longer allows examples that are not In-Universe.
  • For Aesop Amnesia, sometimes people mistakenly use Forgotten Aesop, a redirect to Lost Aesop which is about An Aesop that the work forgot, not the character.
  • Age-Appropriate Angst is meant to be about examples where a character's angst is justified by their youth. Half the examples listed are just various characters who have traumatic backstories.
  • A.K.A.-47 is about weaponry in video games being given a different name for copyright reasons. Every now and then a page that ends up mentioning the AK-47 assault rifle will have its name potholed to the trope because, hey, it's only missing one letter, that's gotta count, right?
  • All Animation Is Disney is about an animation being mistaken for a Disney/Pixar/DreamWorks Animation production, not necessarily something that uses Disney's animation style, which is Disneyesque. While these two tropes may overlap, they're not the same thing.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation was about subtext that leads one to believe there is more (or less) to a character than meets the eye. Now it is often used to describe characters that have wildly different characterizations between adaptations or even hidden personalities one could rule out right off the bat.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees is supposed to be about something that clearly sounds fake but does actually exist. Any item or process that sounds even slightly improbable gets a pot hole to the trope reading "these actually exist" or "this is actually possible", no matter how well-known the "this" in question actually is.
  • Ambiguously Brown is meant to refer to a character whose skin is noticeably darker than the rest of the cast, but their ethnicity is never touched upon. It now tends to refer to any character whose skin isn't milky white.
  • Ambiguously Gay is often misused as Homoerotic Subtext when it's supposed to mean "looks gay and/or shows gay stereotypes, but has no clear sexual preference."
    • For that matter, Ambiguously Bi gets misused a lot in the same way, since it's supposed to be used for characters who are implied to be bisexual without explicit confirmation.
  • And the Fandom Rejoiced is meant to be about moments that cause people who were initially uninterested in a new work in a favorite series of theirs to suddenly get excited about it. It tends to get used for any good preproduction news in general, and for especially anticipated works the subpages can essentially consist of every new detail about the work that emerges.
  • Animation Bump does not mean "any kind of good animation," only good animation from a scene in a movie or episode that doesn't consistently have animation that good.
  • Anyone Can Die does not mean "My favorite show once had a character die."; it means that no character is safe from dying in any way, hence the trope name.
  • Arcade Games are a platform of video games, not a genre — they can include all sorts of genres aside from certain long-form styles such as the Role-Playing Game. Yet, whenever a video game trope has examples folderized by genre, "Arcade Game" sometimes shows up as a genre folder.
  • Armor-Piercing Slap is when a woman easily slaps around a character much stronger than she is, usually for the sake of comedy. That's why it's called "Armor Piercing" slap, and not "regular slap" as some people think.
  • Ascended Meme is a meme spawned by a work that was put into the work later because it became a popular meme. It is often misused as a Shout-Out to any meme, whether it came from the work or not.
  • Asshole Victim is way too often mentioned whenever any victim happens to be an asshole (which would rather fall into Kick the Son of a Bitch, but please see the entry for that trope below). The trope is strictly a Murder Mystery one: it provides plenty of potential suspects, and help makes the actual perpetrator sympathetic. If there's no mystery about who killed the victim, then it isn't this trope.
  • Awesome, but Impractical refers to skills, units or items that are powerful, but rendered useless by exorbitant requirements. A lot of examples are just Cool, but Inefficient.
  • In retrospect, this was probably inevitable with "Awesome Yet Practical", which frequently received examples that were awesome yet practical. Its initial purpose was to be a counterpart to What Do You Mean, It's Not Awesome?, describing cases where that trope should have applied but the thing in question was somehow awesome anyway. It was eventually cut.
  • Ax-Crazy is used where An Axe to Grind would be the proper trope.
  • Badass Decay refers to a character who was one incredibly Badass but is now largely ineffective and perhaps even comical. It's gotten to where if they lose one fight, they've gone through decay.
  • Badass Normal describes a character without superpowers who manages to be Badass in a setting where other characters do have superpowers, particularly against said superpowers. The second, crucial aspect is frequently ignored. And occasionally they forget the first, believing human automatically counts as being "Normal," even if said humans can fly under their own power and shoot energy beams out of their hands. And even that gets ignored, with aliens with not super-impressive superpowers getting labelled as such.
  • Bad Bad Acting is a form of Stylistic Suck, when a character in-universe acts very poorly, played for laughs. It often gets pot holed to any kind of Bad Acting in general.
  • Bad Boss is used way too often instead of the correct trope Mean Boss. A Bad Boss is one who kill his minions for the slightest of motive, or no reason at all. A boss who's just abusive to his employees is a Mean Boss.
  • Bad Export for You is when the creators of a work intentionally water something down when they export it. It's not about any export that sucks.
  • Base Breaker and Broken Base are supposed to mean exactly what they say: something that divides the fanbase, i.e. some love it and some hate it. Both are frequently used for events/episodes/characters etc. that the fanbase unanimously hates. If that's the case, consider looking in the Scrappy Index for a more fitting trope.
  • Batman Gambit has suffered from the same decay as Xanatos Gambit. It's supposed to refer to a plan which relies on predicting how people will behave when confronted with certain situations. But as with Xanatos Gambit, Tropers have gotten it into their heads that it means "any clever, convoluted plan."
  • Berserk Button - It isn't a hot button issue- it isn't something that annoyed someone when they were in a bad mood, it isn't something done until the person snaps, it isn't a laundry list of things that annoy them nor is it something that would make a hostile response an entirely reasonable reaction. The first one goes under Soap Box Sadie, the second and third ones describe the straw that broke the camel's back, the fourth one is Hair-Trigger Temper, and the last one isn't a trope. The last one generally is misapplied to when a character starts getting much more on edge when their family is threatened- in order for the trope to come under effect they have to be pushed beyond all reason. If it really is a radical change, but they are still reasonable it could fall under Let's Get Dangerous.
  • Beyond the Impossible used to be about a series repeatedly topping itself, such that escalation (not continuation) continues even after you're certain it's peaked in whatever area. Many of the pot holes seem to use it as a "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer. It has since been redefined to be Exactly What It Says on the Tin with its original definition going to Serial Escalation.
  • Big Bad was originally meant to describe the villain, the one that is the main antagonist for the vast majority or the entirety of the story. It now tends to be used to refer to "the current central antagonist," even if said villain only sticks around for one arc (you're looking for Arc Villain there).
  • Bigger Bad is often used as a synonym for The Man Behind the Man, while it actually means "a more powerful evil presence than the Big Bad, but less involved in the conflict of the story." The two can overlap, but only if The Man Behind the Man isn't nearly as big a presense in the story as the man he's behind. It also gets misused a lot as "Big Bad, only more powerful" by tropers presumably not reading past the name. They are more significant threats than Big Bads in the setting as a whole, yes, but what sets them apart from just being a more dangerous Big Bad is the Bigger Bad's disinvolvement in the plot.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment is very often used as a term describing any example of Mood Whiplash, Padding or mild strangeness. For it to be an example, a scene has to be completely unforshadowed and out of nowhere, irrelevant to the plot, bizarre even in context, and never mentioned again afterwards. If a scene doesn't fulfil all of those requirements, it's not an example.
  • Bishōnen refers to a very specific aesthetic involving delicate, androgynous men and boys. It is not supposed to be just another word for "guy that I think is kinda hot."
  • Bragging Rights Reward is reward that that could have been useful if the player didn't have to do everything else to get it. If it wasn't useful to begin with, it's a Cosmetic Award.
  • Brain Bleach is when something is so Squicky, a character in-story makes reference to 'bleaching my brain' or something similar. It's not just a carryall term for anything to do with fan fiction, crossovers, and Neon Genesis Evangelion.
  • Brick Joke is a funny event which is set up early, but the punchline doesn't come until later. It's not a reference to something that happened before that just so happened to be funny. It also isn't a funny joke that gets used again later unexpectedly, which is either a Call Back or a Chekhov's Gag. It's also not (necessarily) a joke about bricks.
  • Broken Aesop is meant for morals contradicted by the work itself, but it's often instead used for "bad" morals, which fall more accurately under Family-Unfriendly Aesop.
  • Bullet Hell refers to Shoot Em Ups with a lot (usually at least 100) bullets on the screen at once; enough to cover a good fraction of the screen. It is NOT a catch-all term for the shoot-em-up genre, nor does it mean just any Nintendo Hard shmup.
  • Butt Monkey means simply a character who suffers disproportionately, and nothing more. This is an inversion of Square Peg Round Trope where people refuse to use it even when it fits, because they mistakenly believe that it is required to be Played for Laughs. There is a type of Butt Monkey that is required to be Played for Laughs—but that trope is The Chew Toy.
  • But Not Too Black: Posters tend to use the trope page merely to list all the light-skinned people in Hollywood rather than make any attempt to relate their appearance to a particular work or storyline. Some attempt should be made to explain why skin, hair, features, behavior, etc are relevant in a given situation. And some features can be subjective.
  • Carpet of Virility refers to a very manly character with a "carpet" of chest hair. It has nothing to do with actual carpets.
  • Character Derailment is about characters who change throughout the show or story without rhyme or reason. Some of the examples on the page are just minor examples of Flanderization (which is similar to Character Derailment but less insulting). There were even a few examples that did have logical explanation to character change within the context of the story.
    • The Character Derailment page has also been used for character bashing even though there is an obvious difference between the two.
    • Character Derailment is not for characters from an original material who have a different personality in an adaptation or in a different continuity.
    • Character Derailment is not the inversion of Rescued from the Scrappy Heap.
  • Chickification refers to when an Action Girl becomes a Distressed Damsel with no in-universe explanation.
  • A Cloud Cuckoolander is not just any insane character, but one who is harmless and lovable.
  • Completely Missing the Point is frequently listed as a trope as a Take That against anything, instead of the in-character use. Eventually the misuse forced the trope to be renamed to Comically Missing the Point, but even then some misuse persists.
  • Complete Monster refers to supremely heinous villains played seriouslynote  who are completely and utterly irredeemable and thus without any sympathetic traits (motives, compassion, etc.). The operative word in there is Complete Monster, not "Mostly Monstrous". They have a very obvious reputation for being such within the full scope of a series or universe, and is not for characters who just happen to cross the Moral Event Horizon, or even worse, "villain who does terrible things" (that's kind of the point of villainy in general). Being a Complete Monster in one episode doesn't count either, even in shows with Negative Continuity (there must be continuity in order to establish someone as a Complete Monster).note  It also doesn't refer to one group of villains as Complete Monsters themselves in general, only individuals can be that (if that group is a species, you were probably looking for Always Chaotic Evil). It's a pretty specific trope with very strict criteria, but this one attracted so much misuse that a long-term clean-up thread was started to improve it.
  • Convenient Miscarriage does not cover just any miscarriage. It is a situation where the characters do not want a baby and/or adding one to the cast would alter the plot. A miscarriage that is convenient to neither the plot nor the characters is likely a Double Subversion of the Law of Inverse Fertility.
  • Could Have Avoided This Plot is when a situation is caused by a person that didn't asked for help from the others. It is not necessarily a case where "Scenario X from Show Y could have been avoided if the main character didn't do a certain action that causes the events in the first place".
  • A Crapsaccharine World is a world which appears bright and cheerful or some kind of utopia on the surface, but holds a very dark secret that makes it almost as bad as a true Crapsack World, or depending on your interpretation, just as bad if not worse. Essentially a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing or a Stepford Smiler as the setting. It's not simply a world with positive elements are contrasted with serious problems and harsh reality. That's A World Half Full. However, a Crapsaccharine World can become A World Half Full, and from there usually evolves into a Sugar Bowl.
  • Crazy Awesome, we hardly knew ye. You have been besieged by people who only know crazy as a superlative adverb rather than a descriptive adjective. The trope is for characters who are mentally unbalanced (in a good way) and this imbalance is the primary part of his/her effectiveness. It's not just for random characters who do stuff that's really, really, awesome.
  • Creator's Pet (formerly The Wesley) is ironically a case of a trope that's gotten more misuse after a general rename. Now people will use it for characters that the author simply admits is their favorite (which is covered by Creator's Favorite), or they'll use it when they feel the narrative is favoring one character too much (which is more along the lines of a Mary Sue, itself a notoriously misused trope). The original definition still applies. It's only about characters that are widely hated by the fanbase, but adored by the creators.
  • Critical Dissonance is for works where the consensus between critics and audiences differs. It is not about works that were critically acclaimed but sold poorly (those would fall under Acclaimed Flop), nor is it for works that were critically trashed but sold very well (those would fall under Critic Proof).
  • A couple of Crowning Moment of Heartwarming entries were deleted not because they weren't crowning or emotional, but because those were Tear Jerker moments. Heartwarming can make you cry, but crying isn't necessarily heartwarming. The same thing is happening in Tear Jerker.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome quickly changed from "music that makes a scene especially awesome" to "Tropers' music recommendations." Also, even though the word "crowning" is defined as "representing a level of the highest possible achievement or attainment," it's often blatantly used to say "This series has good music," instead of being applied to a specific piece.
    • Similarly, Crowning Moment of Funny now seems to mean "anything that someone at some point found vaguely amusing."
    • And of course, Crowning Moment Of Awesome used to be about a SINGLE best moment for a show or character, now people just add any little thing they liked, no matter how insignificant. Sure, what moment qualifies as the best is subjective, but a lot of people don't even try to find a single qualifying moment ("The whole thing is a CMOA!").
  • Dan Browned is not "didn't do the research, but only an expert in the field would know." It's "The work is presented as accurate and/or factual, but is riddled with errors." It gets constant maintenance to keep it from becoming "They got this esoteric fact, that only an expert in the field would notice, wrong."
    • Also, Critical Research Failure is getting this treatment. That trope is about things that any non-expert would know is wrong. Instead, people will pot hole any obscure fact that only someone in the field would know to this.
  • Dark Age of Supernames is about superhero names that are dark, edgy, and sometimes misspelled; such as Bloodwulf or Deathblow. Several examples don't sound dark and edgy, just intentionally misspelled; like Bugg or Gloo.
  • Deader Than Disco is supposed to be about works that are either ridiculed or rendered obsolete now. Not about works that have simply fallen into mainstream obscurity (at which they could very easily make a comeback with the right timing).
  • Death Glare is not supposed to be a scary, dangerous glare or a face a character makes before or while going on a rampage. It is a glare a character delivers to make a Deadpan Snarker shut up, similar to a "Be Quiet!" Nudge or a "Shut Up" Kiss.
  • Death Is Cheap does not refer to any one character coming Back from the Dead. It means that it's common to do so.
  • Deconstruction refers to a work that takes an established genre and adds a layer of realism by establishing why associated tropes are used and how they would affect the real world. It is not Darker and Edgier applied to an entire genre. We have a whole page on that topic.
  • Deus ex Machina is an unrealistic or out-of-place plot device which shows up out of nowhere to resolve the plot. It is not a Pretentious Latin Motto meaning "plot points I think are stupid." Of course, the terms gets thrown around a lot in this manner outside the wiki too, making its misuse Truth in Television.
  • Deus Sex Machina is not any sex that's a plot point. It's an ability or item that only works if someone has sex.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything is about a rare game instance that can happen which the developers acknowledge and put special content in for that matter, like a special trick or sequence break. If it is something that happens often or the developers set the player up for that instance, it's not an example of this trope.
  • Disappeared Dad and Missing Mom are mostly used to parents whose absence lacks an In-Universe explanation. They are supposed to cover any absent or deceased parents.
  • Disappointing Last Level in a video game means a drop in quality and a rushed-in-development feel in the last parts of the game. An increase in difficulty by itself is NOT an example of this trope; such a difficulty spike needs to feel out of nowhere and lazily implemented for it to qualify.
  • Disneyesque refers to a work that adopts an art style used in Disney's animated works (usually for homage or parody purposes), similar to how Animesque is about a non-Japanese work adopting an anime/manga style. It is not about something that Follows the Leader to the Disney Animated Canon (i.e. Anastasia or Thumbelina), borrows Disney's fairy dust trademark or uses Disney Creatures of the Farce.
  • Don't Explain the Joke. In regards to in-universe examples, the trope is almost always used properly. In Pot Holes, people tend to mistake "Explaining the scene or the character in question for people who aren't familiar with the series" as "explaining a joke".
  • Some links to "Do Not Want" are people saying that they "do not want" something to happen. The article is actually about humorous bootleg subtitles. This resulted in a rename to end the confusion.
  • Double Standard Rape: (M/M, F/M, F/F, Sci-Fi) If it's not portrayed as "okay" or "funny" in the work, it's not an example. And if other kinds of rape are also portrayed the same way, it's not an example because these tropes are about double standards; then it's just Romanticized Abuse or Black Comedy Rape in general.
  • Down to the Last Play refers to any sporting event which is decided in dramatic fashion at the very last minute. Though it does not matter which team wins, many assume it to mean that the protagonist team always has to win. If the protagonist team doesn't win, tropers will label it as a subversion or an aversion. A true subversion would be a game that ends anticlimactically. A true inversion would be a game decided on the very first play.
  • The Dragon trope was used incorrectly so many times that its definition had to be changed. It originally referred to a minion of the Big Bad who was stronger than the Big Bad, representing more of a physical challenge to the protagonist while the Big Bad represented a mental one. Too many tropers took this to mean "the Big Bad's right-hand man, regardless of whether he/she is actually stronger than the Big Bad."
  • An Egg MacGuffin is an egg used a Plot Device. It may or may not be an actual MacGuffin.
  • Epic Fail is about when a character fails much harder than you would expect, and the work plays it for laughs. Sometimes people seem to think that a work/person/moment/etc. can be an epic fail as an excuse to complain.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse is supposed to refer to when a minor character who does little in the story becomes unexpectedly popular with the fans. It isn't supposed to mean "any character besides the main character who is popular."
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin is about titles that are humorously specific, and tell you everything you need to know about the plot just by reading it. A lot of people use it for any title that's not a total non sequitur or a substitute for Self Explanatory.
  • An Excuse Plot is a plot that is clearly there merely as a justification for the gameplay, or other form of flashy, show-offy-ness, to happen. It does not necessarily mean a poorly written, minimalistic, or stupid storyline. Furthermore, this can only apply to Video Game storylines, but some tropers seem to love to put it as examples to movies and shows they don't like (you're probably looking for Cliché Storm in those cases anyway).
  • An Expy is a character who's a blatant copy of another character with, eventually, few minor differences. Just because a character shares some similarities with another doesn't make him an Expy.
  • Facepalm is when someone literally facepalms. Not something facepalm worthy, or the entire show is facepalm worthy.
  • Fan Disservice is when a show intentionally does something gross to invoke Squick. It's not the same as a show failing at Fanservice, that's Fetish Retardant.
    • It also gets used for plain old body Squick.
    • And for anything the creators do that the fans don't like. Fan Disservice, in this case, is about people looking unappealing; it should not be shoehorned in to complain about the addition/removal of characters, scenes that look different from what they expected, or others.
  • Fan Dumb has to do with certain types (see the list on the trope page) of illogical fan behaviors, specifically those that have to do with being overly defensive of the work or their opinions about it (such as in shipping); Hate Dumb is its equivalent for people who bash a particular work. Way too many people have been using it pretty much every time someone defends a work they don't like, or complains about a work they like, even if their comments are reasonable. Please delete any examples of this misuse that you see, as we don't need Flame Wars here.
  • Fan Haters hate the fans. It's not the same as hating the series the fans are attached too, which is Hatedom.
  • Fanon Discontinuity is supposed to refer to cases when a sequel or episode just screws up our mental image of the plot, so the fandom collectively decides to ignore its existence. Of course, in Pot Holes, it is used as another Take That against anything you don't particularly like, including entire verses.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple does not mean "liked more than the Official Couple by upwards of fully THREE people and also we have a forum." It means a pairing that, judging by its apparent degree of canon validation, is more popular than it should be.
  • Fantastic Racism means racism between humans and mythical/fictional creatures, or between said creatures and other fictional creatures. It is not an adverb describing how powerful one's racism is.
  • Faux Action Girl refers to characters famed as Action Girls in-universe, but in practice the "Action" part is just an Informed Attribute. It's quickly becoming "Any female character who so much as loses one fight, or ever gets captured." (even if they curb-stomp everyone the rest of the time)
  • Fauxlosophic Narration is for philosophic content that has little to do with the plot of the work in question. It doesn't mean philosophical content in general that you don't like.
  • A Femme Fatale is a woman whom the hero can't resist even though getting involved with her means certain danger, especially if she intentionally uses her beauty to overcome the hero's better judgement. It doesn't mean "sexualized female villain". Likewise, not every Asian villainess is a Dragon Lady, and not every eastern-European villainess is The Baroness.
  • The Firefly Effect is about viewers being afraid to commit themselves to a show because they are afraid of it being canceled, even if it's popular like Firefly was. Tropers often use it to complain about a show they like being Screwed by the Network.
  • The Five-Man Band is a common template for a team and the cast, but it does not necessarily mean that any and every team will fit into that precise mold. It is intended to be a loose pattern. This page also has two internal problems:
    • Contrary to what many seem to think, a Five-Man Band does not just refer to any quintet.
    • People - and not just new tropers - tend to shove any female character into the role of 'The Chick' without actually considering what the character is like and what her role is in the group. People seem to think 'The Chick' just means 'any random woman, even if she's clearly The Lancer or whatever.' It's also not possible for a male character to fit this role (if they fill this role, they are The Heart and it's just The Team).
    • Five-Bad Band came upon this a little too. Some examples would be a Quirky Miniboss Squad, not realizing that major character tropes like Big Bad and The Dragon existed long before we created the trope.
    • Similarly, any group with enough people in it will invariably draw attempts to shoehorn them into the Seven Deadly Sins.
  • Flanderization was originally a fairly specific phenomenon, referring to when a previously complex character would eventually come to be defined by one or two specific quirks. However, over time, it decayed into "character generally became broader/wackier", and from there, it further decayed into "any broad/wacky character", even if they were that way to begin with. At this point, the trope has become so vague that people now say that the trope itself has been Flanderized. Now it is apparently possible to be Flanderized in the very same episode you first appear in.
    • On the Flanderization page there was a list of Tropes that have been Flanderized, which almost rivaled the normal examples in length.
  • Flat "What." is exactly what it looks like. Specifically, it's for in-universe reactions along that line. Most potholes to it are by way of a word or phrase that is neither flat nor a "what", because editors assume the trope is about being confused in general and either refuse to accept or fail to understand that their reaction to something isn't necessary for the example to work. On the rare occasion it is actually potholed to the word "what", it tends to be all-caps, italicized and/or bolded, with multiple question marks and/or exclamation points behind it instead of a period, or some combination of the above.
  • Fridge Logic is specifically about a Plot Hole that catches your attention as well as all those nagging questions that have had you scratching your head long after you watched the movie or read the book. But likely it was just a minor thing and it doesn't really destroy your enjoyment of it. The page became a location for Complaining About Shows You Don't Like and a place to vent. It Just Bugs Me was meant to curb the examples, but a decision was made to scrap all the examples and just refer people to It Just Bugs Me.
    • Naturally, It Just Bugs Me has also become something of a repository for Complaining About Shows You Don't Like and Accentuate the Negative. Sometimes they get purged by the Wiki Magic, sometimes not. Eventually, the problem was so great that the name was changed to Headscratchers.
    • For that matter, Fridge Brilliance isn't "My favorite show is awesome and makes no mistakes". All series have Plot Holes and issues, even if insignificant, and trying to deny it with an "I Can Explain" won't change this. That'll just lead to Fan Dumb.
    • A lot of people also don't understand the line between Fridge Brilliance and Wild Mass Guessing.
    • Fridge Horror is when something gets scarier due to retrospect. The same situation, but scarier. Some have just used it for immediate scary implications, which is relatively acceptable as far as square pegs go, but others have used it for imagining an altered version of the plot that's scarier than before.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment is "a scene, joke, or offhand line that was originally meant to be funny or light-hearted but which, due to traumatic events in future episodes of a show or in real life, now makes the viewer cringe when it is seen in reruns." The two events have to be very similar to count (for example, the page picture of a cartoon drawn in 1993 of a plane hitting the WTC). There are a lot of entries where the original line is simply a reference to an actor who later died. Unless the line at least somewhat predicts the circumstances of the actor's death, it's not an example. Otherwise every single reference to a famous person would eventually count. Still more examples list two events that are very tenuously connected, if at all.
  • Gainax Ending is when a work ends on a deliberately incomprehensible note, but often gets confused with Left Hanging and/or Twist Ending.
  • The Garfunkel is supposed to be the band member whose presence is really superfluous to the sound of the group. However, a lot of the examples seem to be "the band member that nobody recognises", even if they have important roles (bassists and drummers especially fall victim to this). This isn't helped by the trope being named after someone who gets judged as this by popular culture, but who in truth was not (Art's voice was an indispensable part of the Simon & Garfunkel sound). We eventually renamed it to Lesser Star.
  • For the most part, Genre Savvy is pretty self-explanatory. However, some people use it to note when a character makes a good decision in general, as opposed to making a good decision based on genre conventions. "The character didn't stick his hand in the fire," for example, is not being genre savvy.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff refers to a character (or a work as a whole) who is significantly more popular in a certain part of the world than in his/her country of origin. For some reason, the page gets several entries detailing the opposite phenomenon.
    • Perhaps even stranger, the Americans Hate Tingle page has examples of things that are hated in their home country without any indication of how people feel about it in other countries.
  • A lot of Getting Crap Past the Radar examples are Double Entendres and have more in relation to Accidental Innuendo. Others meanwhile boil down to Heh Heh, You Said X, people assuming the radar is looking for something it actually "cleared to land" (especially with Disney-made works), thinking there is a radar to get around for works which lack one or proving Freud Was Right and seeing, reading or hearing something that was never intended to get around the radar.
  • The Ghost refers to a character who is mentioned but never seen, and not to an actual ghost.
  • Some entries make it seem like every amusing cut is a Gilligan Cut. Gilligan Cut has a very specific definition (character refusing to do something, and then shown doing it anyway) but is somewhat frequently misused on work pages and in potholes for Description Cut (which involves a person describing something and then it being shown to be false/misleading) and Ironic Echo Cut (which involves two people saying almost the same thing back-to-back).
  • The Gods Must Be Crazy isn't even a trope, yet it is occasionally used as one. We do have two tropes that are puns based on it, but The Gods Must Be Crazy itself is a movie. You might be thinking of Mad God.
  • Grey and Grey Morality is when both sides of the conflict are neither good or bad. Just because a hero has some flaws and the villain has some redeeming qualities doesn't mean the setting is Grey and Grey in terms of morality.
  • Guide Dang It now gets used for any puzzle that's the least bit difficult, not just ones that aren't possible to solve without a strategy guide or walkthrough. A true Guide Dang It situation would be one where you look up the solution and, after doing it and analyzing it, proceed to exclaim "HOW THE FUCKING HELL ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO KNOW TO DO THAT?" If the clues are there and you just missed them or misinterpreted them, it's not an example.
  • Guilty Pleasure means liking something yet feeling guilt or embarassment for liking it, because it's considered outside the mainstream, it's lowbrow, or because the one who likes it is out of the demographic. The definition got twisted to slightly above So Bad, It's Good (when many of the examples on that page are interchangeable), and ultimately to Complaining About Shows You Don't Like but more specific. Almost every example was not an actual example, and people used it as a page to complain about things they thought were So Bad, It's Good, even if what they were complaining about was critically acclaimed, or just animated shows and kid's shows in general. It got so bad and opinionated that the page was regulated to in-universe examples.
  • A Hand Wave is an explanation that is too flimsy to hold up under scrutiny, not any brief explanation and most definitely not "explanations that don't appeal to you".
  • Harder Than Hard refers to when a game has a hard difficulty followed by at least one difficulty above it. It does not simply mean a hard mode that's much harder than the normal mode, or an extreme case of a Nintendo Hard game. Similar case with Easier Than Easy.
  • He Really Can Act: Was meant to be used when an actor who normally isn't taken too seriously ends up putting out a stand out performance. It seems to be in danger of becoming used for any good acting, or when an actor who is taken seriously does a slightly better acting job than they normally do.
  • Hero Killer seems to be falling into this, being used as a blanket term for any character that has managed to kill a hero, regardless of how major a role they had. One of the key elements of the Hero Killer is that he is so effective and so dangerous that even the protagonists are terrified of him; someone who appeared for one episode, had a fairly even-sided battle with the protagonists, and managed to take down a hero before being killed in the climax is not a Hero Killer.
  • Hey, It's That Guy! is when an often-used character actor appears in a supporting role (the whole point is that you know the actor's face, but NOT the name — he's "that guy!") but it's often used for big actors as well.
  • Hey, It's That Voice! is meant to be used for when a voice actor uses the same voice for characters from different series. Instead, it's often used to note that two characters have the same voice actor, even if they don't sound similar.
  • A Hidden Elf Village is a village that refuses to participate in external conflicts. It may or may not be populated by elves.
  • Hope Spot is not "things are gloom but there's a window of hope", but a subversion of that exact concept, the characters' hopes are dashed when the window gets smashed.
  • "Hot Mom" and "Hot Dad" were supposed to refer to moms and dads who the other characters find attractive. Tropers used them to mean "character I think is hot who happens to be a parent". Both are now no longer tropes but disambiguation pages.
  • Ho Yay is about homosexual subtext. At one point, even Brokeback Mountain was stated to have it, which was wrong because the characters are explicitly gay.
    • It's also now used for any two guys who are best friends at all. Shipping Goggles are certainly to blame.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters (once "Humans Are Bastards") is supposed to be about how humans are complete jerks and worse compared to other sentient species. Humans being horrible people in general does not count as this trope.
  • A Hurting Hero is a troubled protagonist, and not necessarily one who is in constant physical pain.
  • Hypno Trinket is about any Brainwashing item that looks like an everyday wearable thing (clothing, jewelry, etc.). Anything worn or slapped on the skin, yet looks obviously like a Mind-Control Device, is just that trope but wearable.
  • This is why I Am Not Making This Up no longer exists on this wiki, what with everyone potholing anything vaguely weird into it.
  • I Am Not Shazam is when people incorrectly assume a work has a Character Title and call the main character by the title even if they have a completely different name. Tropers often assume the trope is about any character who is known by an incorrect name regardless of whether or not the false name is the work title or not.
  • The trope formerly known as Incredibly Lame Pun is about puns that in-universe characters find lame. Tropers think it's "pun, any pun, no matter how subtle or clever it is." As a result, the Trope Repair Shop voted to rename it Lame Pun Reaction.
  • I Got Better, despite having a warning against using it for cases of Character Development or actual "getting better" outside inexplicable returns from death, still gets potholed a lot for characters improving in any way or being resurrected with explanation, but since the Trope Namer line was not about death, the trope itself might be a case of this. It has been eventually renamed to Unexplained Recovery.
  • Insane Troll Logic is for logic that is incredibly demented to the point where it makes no sense at all. Too many people try to cram flawed logic into the trope as opposed to the nonsensical logic that it is supposed to reflect.
  • I Thought It Meant is for when a trope or work may sincerely be mistaken for a similarly-named trope or work. Too often, an editor comes to believe that every work page must have a pothole to the trope somewhere and will refer to another work or a trope that has absolutely nothing at all to do with the page in question.
  • "It's Been Done" was formerly known as "The Simpsons Did It" as a reference to South Park. When The Simpsons did a trope, someone would say "The Simpsons Did It" to say that it was used on the show. In reality, they would be saying that The Simpsons invented the trope.
  • The It Sucks pages are for reactions by the general audience and critics. They are not pages for Complaining About Shows You Don't Like.
  • It Was His Sled is supposed to be for plot twists that were once secrets, but are now known by everybody because of the way they've permeated through popular culture. It's fast descending into "any twist that a particular fandom/market/niche knows about", or worse, "any twist", hence the Example Sectionectomy. A more indirect example/result of misuse is that, when writing about twists that don't really fall under this trope but are still considered examples by myopic fans, tropers often neglect to use spoiler tags on pages that don't have a "spoilers off" policy (i.e. trope pages where the mere presence of a work on them can indirectly spoil the twist). Because of this, tropers who plan to read/watch/play a certain work without spoiling anything beforehand can be reading a non-"spoilers off" page and inadvertently come across twists devoid of spoiler tags simply because the person who added the example assumed that it was already widely known.
  • Jean Grey Escalation was a trope meaning when one event in a story involving a character becomes the only thing fans (or even writers) remember, and act as if its their only defining characteristic. This was, of course, named after Jean Grey of the X-Men, who, until recently, had become all powerful once, turned evil once, died once, and came back once, but people always made jokes about how she's always dying and coming back, despite other characters, including Magneto and Xavier, dying and coming back far more often than Jean. However, people kept adding the trope thinking it meant always dying and coming back. Because of that, it was renamed to a much more fitting and much less confusing name Never Live It Down.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk is often misused as simply "a character who is/acts like a jerk". The trope, however, is actually about moments where characters who usually act like jerks seem to have a change of heart and do something good, until it is later discovered that they had selfish and unpleasant reasons for doing so.
  • Jossed is meant to be for cases in which a fan's theory is disproved by later developments in the story or by Word of God, but it sometimes gets used on Wild Mass Guessing pages for cases in which a fan theory is just unlikely to be true, but not entirely disproven. If someone has to later come along and add a note saying that the guess was "un-Jossed", most likely it was never really Jossed in the first place (barring Lying Creator or Flip Flop of God).
    • In a reversal, Word of God is supposed to be official statements from the creators of a series, but in a few cases it's used as, basically, "my fan theory is true regardless of my actual knowledge of the series, just because".
  • Katanas Are Just Better requires to show that a katana wielder is better than other melee and ranged weapons. Just wielding a katana doesn't qualify for this trope.
  • Kick the Dog refers to any gratuitously evil act, including but not limited to kicking a dog.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch is often used when a character does something bad to an evil character, either for revenge, heroism or some other personal issues — but that's not what it's supposed to mean. What they should be using instead is Pay Evil unto Evil. Kick the Son of a Bitch is only applicable when a character does something mean to an evil character without KNOWING of their evil ways. This is so common, in fact, that the trope's very page explains the difference between the two, but people still can't seem to get it right.
  • Thanks to Memetic Mutation, Kill It with Fire is now used as a Pot Hole for what is technically Brain Bleach. The Kill It With Fire trope is Exactly What It Says on the Tin; things that are associated with the Memetic Mutation version of it are Brain Bleach.
  • Killed Off for Real was being misused for any Character Death, its missing supertrope. It's only in play when characters can reasonably be assumed to be dead, they can reasonably be expected to return, and they don't return. Applicable to settings where "Killed Off For Fake" (Disney Death or Back from the Dead) is present, it's mutually exclusive with All Deaths Final.
    • Sometimes it also gets misused when a setting has both a real world, and a not-so-real world such as a simulation, and characters are killed in the real world. This still doesn't qualify, because while characters might be expected to come back to life if killed in a simulation, there's no expectation that they'd return when killed in reality.

    L-Z 
  • A Lampshade Hanging was originally supposed to mean when a trope is pointed out in an attempt to hide or excuse it (i.e. please don't look at this trope). Instead, this has come to mean, "Any trope that is acknowledged or pointed out by one or more characters as it's occurring, in any manner or context whatsoever."
  • The distinction between Large Ham, Chewing the Scenery and No Indoor Voice seems to be blurred.note  In addition, apparently there is little middle ground between Large Ham and Dull Surprise.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler, formerly titled "You Should Know This Already," is usually still potholed and linked as such to facilitate expressions of Fan Myopia. It's supposed to refer to promotional materials for a franchise which spoil prior plot developments, assuming fans are already familiar with them. However, it's often used by tropers to mean "I just spoiled something, but it's your fault for not having already seen the movie/show."
  • A Lethal Joke Character is one that appears to be a Joke Character, but has hidden potential that can make them dangerous after all. It's not any character that happens to look, act or generally come across as quirky or weird, but is clearly in line with other characters in terms of gameplay. That's Fighting Clown. One cleaning of the page almost had to cut half of the content.
  • Let's Get Dangerous is supposed to be "a moment in the story when all the quirky, eccentric supporting cast stop being quirky and eccentric and start demonstrating why you should respect your elders." For some reason, people keep confusing this with Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass.
  • A Lightning Bruiser is a character that is fast, strong, and tough. The first two traits alone aren't enough to qualify.
  • Literary Agent Hypothesis, this is possibly the most incorrectly understood trope on the whole wiki - so misunderstood has it been that almost every single link to it on TV Tropes is incorrect, as well as half its own list (previously the ENTIRE LIST was incorrect but it was partly fixed). Has spawned at least two other tropes in order to deal with the chaos its description caused - Direct Line to the Author and A True Story In My Universe. The same thing has started to happen to both of these.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters is about having a large number of main characters, but the examples are slipping towards anything that isn't a Minimalist Cast.
  • Louis Cypher is about when the villain of a work is revealed to be Satan in disguise, but it's sometimes used for any case where the villain is Satan. More rarely, it's used to refer to any incrediby obvious alius.
  • A MacGuffin is an interchangeable Plot Device. The key trait of a MacGuffin is that it can be anything, and whatever qualities it has are irrelevant to the story. Lots of people ignore that specification and include any item that drives the story, or even items people happen to fight over, when fighting over something has nothing to do with the definition. If the Plot Device could not be replaced with some other item without altering the plot, then it isn't a MacGuffin. This is an especially confusing one, as some tropes with "MacGuffin" in the title do not refer to actual MacGuffins.
  • Magnificent Bastard. Doesn't help that the definition was so vague in the first place; however, efforts to nail down a concrete definition have done little to stem the flood. (It also doesn't help that the Trope Namer, Erwin Rommel, is actually a Worthy Opponent.)
  • Who is Mary Sue? For a mainly Fan Fiction trope, she's piled up a great number of dubious Canon examples. See Canon Sue, which is another mess.
  • Memetic Sex God is about examples from memes. If it happens in canon, they're a Sex God.
  • Mini Dress Of Power is about an Action Girl who's outfit is a mini dress. It does not mean "well she does action stuff occasionally", or worse, just a mini dress being worn (as that would be People Sit on Chairs).
  • Missed Moment Of Awesome referred to significant moments that people expect to see either because it was in the original source of an adaptation, or because it's something the story builds to. People use it to say "Hey, wouldn't it have been funny if they had used this joke instead?". Or for things that while neat, probably can't be considered "awesome". Or for things the story doesn't build up to, and can't be reasonably faulted for skipping. Or...sometimes just about anything, really. Thus, it was renamed to Offscreen Moment of Awesome.
  • Mooks are evil henchmen that have little to no backstory and exist only so that The Hero can kill hordes of them and look like a badass while doing it. It is not just a generic term for "minion".
  • The Moral Event Horizon is meant to be a point where a character is established as so depraved, monstrous, and evil that there is absolutely no believable way to redeem them. However, it tends to get used as "someone acts like a jerk". Also, many examples have more than one MEH per character, which is impossible.
  • More Than Mind Control is often misused as "Mind Control and then some more Mind Control" or "simple Mind Control but more awesome".
  • Mr. Fanservice is supposed to be about one (or a few) hot male character who provides fanservice for the straight/bi female (and gay/bi male) audience. The examples consist mostly of "here is a list of several dozen characters from show X that I found hot, including a crippled 60-year-old that nobody but me would find attractive."
  • Murder by Mistake is when a character plots a murder, but kills someone other than the intended victim. If the killer had no murderous intent, it's Accidental Murder.
  • Narm has gotten overloaded with lots of "unintentional funny" when the original purpose of the trope was things that were supposed to be serious that ended up being funny. This is even a case where the Trope Namer is actually a great example of the trope, and not just a clever-sounding name.
    • It's also not all that uncommon to find Complaining About Shows You Don't Like on the Narm page, or alternatively "Complaining about scenes I didn't quite buy." These are not actual examples and should naturally be deleted on sight.
    • A good chunk of examples are straight up jokes that were deliberately written to be funny, or are examples of intentionally over-the-top comedic acting. In fact, just about any Narm example from a comedy is probably this.
  • Nephewism covers two things: a well-known character having nieces or nephews rather than children, or a child character living with an uncle and/or an aunt rather than with their parents.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain has the word "fixing" for a reason. And no, not being defeated is not what needs fixing. That's Hoist by His Own Petard.
  • Nightmare Fuel was originally supposed to be about things from media aimed at children which are unintentionally scary. Then it started getting filled with "anything that scared me as a child, even if I wasn't supposed to see it at that age." Now, most of the examples in Nightmare Fuel have drifted so far that it might as well be a redirect to the Horror article, but with whininess.
    • In the same fashion, High Octane Nightmare Fuel originally refers to something that was specifically meant to scare the viewers. Reading through some of these pages for different works, one will mainly come across things like characters making scary faces, getting killed off in an unusually violent (but not necessarily horrifying or frightening fashion), to plot developments that while shocking, are clearly not meant to actually scare the audience, and of course, fan speculations and hypothetical what if scenarios that didn't actually take place and have no chance of happening in canon.
  • Nintendo Hard is about games that are incredibly, ridiculously hard. Many tropers like to attach the label to any even remotely challenging or frustrating game, even if it isn't anywhere near as difficult as the insanely difficult NES games that gave the trope its name. Others like to use it to shoehorn examples of That One Level on the main page.
  • People tend to confuse No Ending with Left Hanging, Bolivian Army Ending, Gainax Ending, Cliff Hanger, Sequel Hook, and nearly every other ending trope on the wiki except for Grand Finale.
    • And in the same vein, a Cliff Hanger does not constitute a Bolivian Army Ending.
    • It also doesn't help that being able to make that distinction in some cases depends on knowing the intent of the creators and Word of God may not be available.
  • No Fourth Wall is about when the characters all know they're fictional and never pretend that they aren't. Breaking the Fourth Wall is when a work that usually has a fourth wall breaks it temporarily. People seem to not realize the difference, to the point where there are more examples of Breaking the Fourth Wall on the No Fourth Wall page than actual examples of No Fourth Wall.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing is meant to be about works that are completely devoid of any romance. It is frequently misused to refer to characters who are romantically involved but don't show much physical affection onscreen.
  • Nostalgia Filter explicitly says "No Real Life Examples, Please." And yet, many tropers use similar pages to give "real life" generalizations about this trope, even when the Nostalgia Filter itself has little relevance to the trope at hand.
  • Nuke 'em is a trope about using nuclear weapons too eagerly or too much. Lots of examples added there are mostly about "this work has nuclear weapons".
  • Even so-called Omnipresent Tropes can be averted. While No Trope Is Too Common, no trope occurs in every work.
  • One-Way Visor means a visor, not lenses. A visor is like a pair of goggles with temple-arms instead of a strap, or the faceplate of a helmet. Doesn't stop people from adding Red Hood and Spider-Man
  • Only Child Syndrome does not cover selfish or demanding characters. It refers to a work in which most or all characters are only children, whether they exhibit these characteristics or not.
  • Our Elves Are Better gets interpreted in different ways. One is focusing entirely on the "better" part, using it for Superior Species even if elves aren't involved at all. Another is that the title is literally about elves being portrayed as superior (or at least being smug toward everyone else), leading some tropers to think there is a more neutral Our Elves Are Different article out there somewhere (the Blue Rose article at one time linked to both Our Elves Are Better and Our Elves Are Different). Its own Playing With section describes the basic trope as "A race of different elves are superior to most inferior races." All of this ignores that the trope should simply be about there being different kinds of elves in fiction.
  • Overused Running Gag is when a work itself acknowledges or lampshades how often it uses a particular gag. It does not mean "gag that I'm personally sick of."
  • Permanent Red Link Club usually has people adding every article that was ever cut and locked, even though they may come back in the future. It is supposed to be a list of articles that this wiki never wants to come back.
  • People Sit on Chairs refers to something so basic that it can't even be called a trope. It does not mean "It's all over the place".
  • Platform Hell refers to a specific subgenre of games which are specifically designed to punish and frustrate the player as much as possible. Tropers tend to use the phrase to mean "Nintendo Hard BUT MORE!". Platform Hell games are almost exclusively either ROM hacks or homebrewed games... it's extremely rare for an official retail product to truly qualify as one of these.
  • "The core idea of Poe's Law is that a parody of something extreme can be mistaken for the real thing, and if a real thing sounds extreme enough, it can be mistaken for a parody," as the first few lines of that page explain. However, examples have a tendency to be more about works or personalities that are either extreme or at least reviled in general, without the "mistaken for a parody" part. This usually leads to Complaining About Shows You Don't Like while ignoring the trope definition.
  • A Pot Hole is when a link is hidden in the text. Directly displayed links that use {{brackets}} or CamelCase are not potholes.
  • Pragmatic Villainy is meant for an instance when a character refuses to indulge in an evil act not because it's too evil, but because said character knows it's not really to their benefit (wasted resources, PR nightmare, likely to get themselves harmed in the process, not actually possible, etc). It does not necessarily refer to villains who are pragmatic overall, nor is it necessarily referring to villains who fight dirty.
  • Precision F-Strike, as the description says, only applies to characters who don't swear often, if at all. Maybe-MAYBE-if the swear is supposed to obviously be part of the drama of a significant moment. Of course, it gets applied to characters who swear all the time, and to moments that aren't the least bit dramatic. And that's not even getting into the number of pages where any single use of the word "fuck" is Pot Holed to this trope.
  • Put on a Bus means that a character is written off in such a way that they could return. It does not necessarily involve a bus.
  • Quirky Household refers to a strange but loving family, and not to a Dysfunctional Family that is quirky.
  • Rage Breaking Point is when the anger is held back, but then breaks through. If there is already anger released, it doesn't count. This isn't "rage crescendo".
  • Rape The Dog was designed to be clearly and qualitatively different from Kick the Dog, but the original distinction became muddled to Kick the Dog But More Evil and we had to put it down. The replacement is Moral Event Horizon. The final proof of its total abandonment of original concept is the belief of many that Moral Event Horizon is actually a step above Rape The Dog.
    • Complete Monster was also added because the original definition of Rape The Dog was so muzzy, it appeared to many Tropers to apply to characters who already lived beyond the Moral Event Horizon and had no need to cross it. On that trope, it refers to a villain who's so evil that they couldn't be more depraved. Admittedly there are multiple ways of going about that, but when every character who was even slightly mean to someone else is labelled a "complete monster," the trope begins to lose its meaning.
  • Rated M for Manly refers to, as it says on the Laconic entry, "Any work or character with an emphasis on masculinity—made by men for men—often involving badassery taken Up to Eleven." Many examples, however, have little to no explanation for why they are there, and more often than not they translate to "I found this work to be the epitome of badassery and awesomeness" with little context to back it up.
  • Real Women Don't Wear Dresses has developed many, many problems. It gets potholed incorrectly all the time, despite its straightforward title. Moreover, it's usually accompained by whining and soapboxing about what female characters should and shouldn't be. Most of the (potholed) examples could be summed up as "Complaining About People Not Liking Damsel Scrappies You Like". The trope was originally about feminine clothes/mannerisms/hobbies being considered weak or annoying. Apparently a lot of people think it is about backlash against female characters who are weak (but not necessarily 'girly').
  • Recycled IN SPACE! means adding a gimmicky premise to a Sequel Series or self-proclaimed Spiritual Successor to make it seem different, rather than just continuing the original series. An example would be The Suite Life of Zack and Cody (show about twins living in a hotel) and its Sequel Series The Suite Life on Deck (show about those same twins on a cruise ship). However, far too many examples are complaining about Dueling Shows, Follow the Leader, or Serial Numbers Filed Off.
    • There's also the subset of people who take the trope name literally and use it to refer to any work set in space.
      • Or anywhere else, for that matter. If a sentence anywhere says "...in [location]," somebody is going to pothole that with Recycled IN SPACE!
  • Redshirt Army is specifically for incompetent/easily-killed faceless good guys. It's not for any faceless army that gets easily killed.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots are human because of features that no programmer would consider practical for a robot, not just because they look like a human. This makes Tin Can Robot not the polar opposite of this trope.
  • Romantic Plot Tumor has threatened to become a repository for romantic plots that someone doesn't particularly care for - even when the romance story is central to that particular plot, rather than the romance story creeping into and taking over the main plot.
  • Rule of Three is one that gets trown around in Pot Holes similarly to Recycled IN SPACE! and Precision F-Strike seemingly just to lampshade how the troper wrote what they wrote. It's meant to be about three being a very common number for things to happen in, especially if written as such. On the site, however, it's usually just potholed whenever anything happens three times, or worse, when somebody writes a joke themselves in three times and then potholes the third one to it. Of course, the worst is when somebody potholes to it for the third instance in a chain of more than three, meaning it isn't really an example anyway.
  • A Sadist Show is one where viewers are supposed to enjoy the suffering of the characters. The nature of their suffering, be it their own fault or otherwise, doesn't matter, nor does it have to be the entire cast rather than just the main character. It is not simply a show where bad things happen to people, and doesn't count if you're supposed to sympathize with them. And, said suffering has to be the focal point of the show, not simply something that happens pretty often.
  • Sarcasm Mode is meant to be about signals that indicate sarcasm (i. e., "sarcasm mode on/sarcasm mode off"), but it's used to refer to any sarcasm. It's also used to pothole sarcasm itself, which is NOT the purpose of the trope.
  • Sarcastic Title means that title-content dissonance is played for sarcasm to drive a point home. It's frequently applied to any title that intentionally inverts Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • Scary Black Man is exactly what it sounds like, an intimidating black guy. The definition seems to be relaxed to refer to any minority character or even in some cases characters that just barely qualify for Ambiguously Brown, whether they're scary, intimidating, or not.
  • Schoolgirl Lesbians is often used to describe any lesbian relationship, regardless of how seriously the relationship is actually treated, or how old the characters are.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them! is for when someone deliberately ignores rules, but does not actually change them. Otherwise it's Forgot I Could Change the Rules.
  • Scrub and "Stop Having Fun" Guy refer to gamers who impolitely impose their ruleset on everyone who plays with them. Poor skill level alone does not equal a Scrub. High skill level and a tendancy to play on tournament settings, however un-"fun" they are to more casual players alone do not equal a Stop Having Fun Guy.
  • Seasonal Rot refers to one particular season of a show that is judged in hindsight to be markedly inferior to other seasons. Way too many people are using the term to mean "I don't like the current season." It also does not mean "got less good over time," which is Jump the Shark.
  • Contrary to what its name may imply, She's a Man in Japan refers to any Gender Flip (male to female or female to male) of any character in any translation of any work. There are no inversions.
  • Shocking Swerve is a plot twist that not only comes out of nowhere without any foreshadowing, but flat-out doesn't make sense with regard to earlier plot details. (As in it outright contradicts something that happened previously). Most of the examples on the page basically boil down to Complaining About Twists You Don't Like. Also, many people think no foreshadowing is the only criteria. The trope you're looking for there is Ass Pull. It's gotten to the point where the trope page itself says some of the examples don't count.
  • A Shout-Out has to be intentional on the part of the creators. It is not a coincidental similarity between works. Before you succumb to the urge to write "Looks like a Shout-Out to", consider how likely it is that the creator of Work B is familiar with Work A. In fact, if you don't know it's a Shout-Out, probably best not to mention it.
  • A Sixth Ranger is a late addition to The Team of heroes or villains, and is not necessarily the sixth character. However, this trope does commonly overlap with Five-Man Band or Five-Bad Band, hence the trope name.
  • A Smug Snake is not just an incompetent wannabe-Chessmaster. He's a villain designed to be unsympathetic due to arrogance - he might have a few traits of The Chessmaster in him, but will always be closer to Complete Monster than Magnificent Bastard.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped refers to when a story has an Anvilicious message, but the story actually works better because it's so blatant. Due to the misleading title, it's often used to say "any message I agree with that was done in an Anvilicious manner." Sometimes, even when the message was well-written instead of being Anvilicious.
  • For something to be So Bad It's Horrible, it needs to have been a commercial failure.
  • So Okay, It's Average is supposed to be "works that are just alright," but if often misused as "This work is supposed to be great, but I find it average!" when this is Hype Backlash.
    • Speaking of which, Hype Backlash is suppose to be about shows who get such a heightened expectation that viewers will leave disappointed. Tropers have translated this to Complaining About Shows You Don't Like that happen to be popular.
      • Note: just stating a character's name, a plot point, or a particular defining trait of the show/book/movie etc. as the reason for generalized praise or public opinion that you think is undeserved is NOT a justification.
    • Doesn't help that many tropers assume it means "It's not very good, which makes it bad".
  • Sophomore Slump applies to series that make an awful or mediocre second installment then make a better third one. It tends to be misused as "The series becomes bad or keeps getting worse from the second installment onwards."
  • Sphere Eyes is supposed to be about a cartoon character having large, connected eyes. Tropers think it's about separated eyes in general cartoons and misuse it as such.
  • Start of Darkness refers to prequels revealing a villain's backstory when that backstory wasn't revealed in the original work. Most tropers seem to just use it to mean "any villain backstory" even if the backstory is revealed within the same work that introduced the villain.
  • Strangled by the Red String is a trope meaning that two characters who were, at most, friends or allies, but never had any romantic feelings who suddenly get together or express romantic interest. However, some people tend to use it to mean 'This couple had no chemistry or was very shallow', or worse, 'I didn't like this pairing'. At most, the former is Romantic Plot Tumor or Satellite Love Interest, and the latter is just another Complaining About Shows You Don't Like subset. This got so bad that some people would assume an entry they disagreed with as just 'I didn't like this pairing' even if it was an actual entry. Because of that, the trope became a YMMV trope.
  • Stylistic Suck is officially meant to be about how a Show Within a Show will be intentionally poorly-made compared to the show it's contained within, but it's often used to refer to scenes that are meant to be happening in the main story, that are just done in an intentionally sloppy manner. That's an Art Shift.
  • Subverted Trope: Or at least the word "subverted" is misused all over the place. The term means a bait and switch move with a trope. Many here think it means any form of Playing with a Trope, or even playing a trope straight but they want to say it's subverted anyway.
  • Tailor-Made Prison is supposed to be a prison that is made just for the one character, but often lists any hard to escape prison which is covered by The Alcatraz.
  • Tastes Like Diabetes is supposed to be about works that are insanely cute at the expense of quality (meaning they either compromise good writing and likable characters for cuteness or are just so excessively cute that enjoyment of them is hindered). Not about works that are just insanely cute; you're looking for Sweet Dreams Fuel, which is cuteness applied in a tasteful manner. There are far too many examples on the page that fit the latter but not really the former.
  • Team Dad and Team Mom do not specifically refer to the biological or adoptive parents of a Sibling Team. They also cover an acting parental figure to any group of heroes. Also, they are defined by personality, not by gender; a Team Dad is strict and leads by example, while a Team Mom is warm and nurturing.
  • That One Level and That One Boss refers to levels and bosses that are significantly harder than the ones before them, not just any hard level or boss. Otherwise, Nintendo Hard games may as well have every single level and boss listed as examples of either trope. They also do not mean Dethroning Level or Boss of Suck; there are players who genuinely enjoy challenging parts of video games.
  • This! Is! Sparta! got a lot of examples that are simply the character in question being loud, not giving the required emphasis on each word, this has lead to the rename "Punctuated! For! Emphasis!" to emphasise what the trope was about.
    • This is also another one of those tropes, similar to Rule of Three, Precision F-Strike, and Recycled IN SPACE!, often gets shoehorned onto pages in awkward and unnecessary ways. No page really needs somebody randomly adding in "It. Never. Stops." or some such to their own example and then pot holing to it.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot has been reinterpreted into complaining about plot developments you don't like or leaving a plot thread hanging, or What Could Have Been.
  • A Toilet Seat Divorce is a divorce with very trivial grounds, which may or may not be "he always leaves the toilet seat up".
  • Too Cool to Live refers to a character who's so skilled or powerful (IE, "cool") that they're killed off because otherwise they'd interfere with the dynamics of the conflict. It sometimes gets reduced to "a character I liked who died."
    • Often the big bad, the dragon or similarly plot-important villain who dies is given as example of this trope. This is incorrect: the conflict with the big bad does not overshadow the plot, it IS the plot. Other examples include characters who were ganked during the final climactic battle or who didn't die at all. Even without these cases, most examples refer to cool characters whose death is integral to the plot, rather than a means to give other characters a chance to shine.
  • Trademark Favorite Food is supposed to mean a food which a character is so obsessed with that it becomes a defining trait for that character. Many of the examples are more along the lines of "food this character mentioned liking once".
  • An inversion of this is tropers thinking that mentioning a trope happening in Real Life somehow is not the same thing as stating a trope is Truth in Television, and feel the need to state the latter, especially in YKTTW (the reason it's not listed in the descriptions is because TiTV is an index, which can't be used in ykttw).
  • There's some room for debate about the exact definition of Tsundere, but it definitely is not supposed to describe any character who ever has a crush on someone and tries to hide it, nor does it mean "character who is mostly angry, but sometimes nice," nor "character who is mostly nice, but sometimes gets really angry." The Tsundere acts cranky and aggressive because she doesn't know how to deal with or properly express her more tender emotions.
  • ‹bermensch — not so much the trope itself, but with the definition of its polar opposite the Last Man.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife is fairly self-explanatory, but that doesn't stop countless people from adding "I think this woman is sexy, and the guy is average at-best, so I'll add it" type stuff. The article requires near-constant pruning to prevent this and other exaggerations of what counts as "ugly". The Real Life section was even worse, and had to be axed ("this girl's not having my baby!")
  • Unbuilt Trope is when a work uses a trope in a serious, unsentimental way before the trope is popularized, and so ends up looking like a Deconstruction in retrospect. But many Tropers have Deconstruction confused with other, similar tropes, so...
  • Unfortunate Implications has a much more narrow definition than its name implies. note  A lot of tropers pretty much use it for "something that one person could maybe possibly be offended by".
    • This one got so bad that the Unfortunate Implications index had to be cut because people were putting tropes such as "Cruella to Animals" (supposedly because it offends people who eat meat) on there.
    • Also, tropers quite often pothole to Unfortunate Implications for examples of Fridge Horror. In a similar vein, the pages have tons of examples of That Came Out Wrong listed on them, without any real implication anyone could confuse it for Unfortunate Implications. Possibly looking to sweep the inaccuracy olympics, these examples will quite often have something in them that outright admits that this example was That Came Out Wrong, thus effectively admitting that the edit has no reason to be there and that the reader's time was just wasted in reading it.
  • Unsound Effect is supposed to mean a Written Sound Effect that's clearly not onomatopaeia, however some people have started using it to describe any unusual sounding legitimate Written Sound Effect.
  • The Untwist became so bogged down with "I saw that one coming a mile away" entries that we had to nuke the page and start over. As it is a subjective trope, you should only list examples that most people would consider Untwists.
  • Ur Example means the earliest known example that could reasonably fit a trope. It does not mean the "best" example or "my favorite" example.
  • Villain Song is supposed to be about a villain in the context of a storyline, but the vast majority of the music examples are simply Sympathetic P.O.V. songs. Because of this, it is very, very difficult to make a proper example of a villain song outside of the context of a Concept Album as the trope doesn't describe a Sympathetic P.O.V., but rather a song describing a story's villain in song.
  • Wall Banger is about a plot point so utterly stupid and ridiculous that it exceeds all thought. Many of the examples eventually became simple Fridge Logic and complaining about plot points they didn't like, no matter how insignificant.
    • There are similar problems with Dethroning Moment of Suck, which means the worst moment of a show (even if you still like that show, but the moment is a blemish on it) it's been worn all the way down to just "I didn't agree with this." Some of them are even worse than that, such as an example for a comedy show that's summed up as "I didn't laugh at that joke."
  • The War on Straw, at least when it comes to TV Tropes. Wikipedia notes that the "straw man fallacy" is the lumping of a strong opposition argument together with one or many weak ones to create a simplistic weak argument that can easily be refuted. However on TV Tropes, due to tropers not following the Rule of Cautious Editing Judgement, The War on Straw means "A character who is drawn only for the purposes of either proving them wrong or ridiculing them" and Real Life examples are no longer tolerated.
  • Wave of Babies (of all tropes!) underwent a bit of Trope Decay. It refers to a literal wave, not just a large number of babies in a small space.
  • The three tropes What an Idiot, Idiot Ball, and Too Dumb to Live all went through this, to the point where they all became interchangeable ways to complain about character decisions people didn't like. The first is when a character makes a very dumb decision, the second is when a character makes an uncharacteristically dumb decision, and the third is when a character's dumb decision actually gets the character killed. Besides the above accidental attempts to fuse the tropes, the third is also pretty commonly used as a level of character stupidity, confusing it with The Ditz and "Ralph Wiggum" back when it was around.
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong? is about an obvious catastrophe waiting to happen. Not someone literary saying the name. That's A Simple Plan.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic? got renamed to Faux Symbolism because people kept missing the "not" part, and thinking it dealt with real symbolism. The fact that Rule of Symbolism was created later and the page about Symbolism even later didn't help much.
  • What the Hell, Hero? refers to when a hero commits a reprehensible act and is called out for it in-universe. Way too many tropers miss that crucial last part of the definition and use it to describe any instance of a hero acting like a jerk. Also, the character being called out must be a protagonist, not just any character. Reviewers pointing this out also does not count.
  • White Magician Girl, back when it was called Staff Chick, received massive misuse with a lot of examples of characters who played the role of White Mage but didn't fulfill the characterization (the White Mage trope was created later to rectify this problem), or worse, examples that took the title literally and concentrated on staffs alone (you're looking for a Simple Staff in this case), thus, several straight examples were considered subversions because they didn't use staffs.
  • Why Fandom Can't Have Nice Things is a bit more specific than its title would imply; it's meant to be for instances in which creators interact closely with fans of a work, only to cut down on that interaction after having unpleasant encounters with fans (or haters), disappointing the nicer fans. It has often been used for cases in which the consequence of bad behavior is something other than less fan-creator dialogue, such as cancellation of a work, retirement of a creator, or removal of a feature in a video game. (Some of which are listed as potential further consequences in the description.)
  • The Woobie is supposed to be a character whose frequent or continuous suffering causes and/or attempts to cause the audience to feel sympathetic towards him as a pattern. It's often mixed up with Tear Jerker—which doesn't rely on a pattern—Butt Monkey—which has no audience reaction part necessary—or Moe—which leads to a similarly protective reaction but has a different trope base that doesn't usually involve tangible suffering. It's also often used as a place to collect counterexamples to characters' lives being absolutely perfect, which isn't a trope or an audience reaction (while The Woobie itself is a mix of both), but a non-notable aversion.
  • Xanatos Gambit was clearly defined as a plan made to benefit the planner no matter the outcome. Many tropers just saw it as a brilliant scheme no matter the method, and put just any clever plan from a character they liked in there. So we made Batman Gambit to define the trope better.
    • In that regard, people think Xanatos Roulette means a Xanatos Gambit that's even more clever. They aren't too far off, but they forget that the defining characteristic is that it's so much more clever that it simply breaks people's suspension of disbelief, often because The Plan relies too heavily on luck, hence it being a roulette. This is why the name was changed to Gambit Roulette; to break the association.
    • Another problem was confusion with Evil Plan because of poor word choice at the article's start. It has since been corrected.
  • The YMMV tab is for stuff in the YMMV index as well as Audience Reactions. Some people misuse it as listing objective tropes that they think make something they don't like sound good, or the other way around.
    • There are some odd and oddly pervasive instances of a sentence or phrase unambiguously gushing or complaining about a show but potholing to YMMV, likely the result of stealth justifying edits. This doesn't work even when one ignores the fact that potholing YMMV in the middle of an example at all is not supposed to happen.
  • You Mean Xmas refers to a fictional holiday that is a Suspiciously Similar Substitute for Christmas, usually in a fantasy setting where Christianity couldn't realistically exist. It does not cover characters referring to Christmas as "Xmas".
  • You Suck had to be renamed to This Loser Is You because people kept thinking it was for instances of a video game mocking the player for being terrible at the game, when it's really about an Audience Surrogate portrayed in a negative light.
  • Zeerust refers to ideas of "futuristic" that, while still futuristic-looking, have a "retro" look to them. Back in the Troper Tales days, people wrote Troper Tales about how they prefer their older electronics to modern-day ones, which is completely different.

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alternative title(s): Shoehorned Example; Round Peg Square Trope; Not An Example; Not This Trope; Its A Trope; Tropers Went And Broke It
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