says 90% of everything is crap. Oddly enough, tropes are largely an exception, at least when it comes to the examples. Most examples are in fact neutral, neither being quite good or bad
examples. Or some tropes have a roughly even mixture of good and bad examples. Then some tropes seem to be good or bad by their natures (such as those on the Bad Writing Index
Then we have these tropes, where, well, 90% of the examples (but not all
) are crap.
Let's make it clear these tropes are not necessarily bad
. They often leave plenty of room for adaptation, and a skilled storyteller can play them well
. However, they are seldom if ever used to build a good story. Hence they are the tropes most likely to demonstrate Sturgeon's Law; i.e. 90% of the examples are crud.
But like the corollary, the remaining ten percent can be worth dying for.
Compare Pet Peeve Trope
Contrast Favorite Trope
- All Just a Dream: Revealing that the past episode, movie, season, or entire series was just a dream can be done well, if the journey was worth it in its own right (it helps if the dream nature is revealed beforehand). But most of the time, it leaves the audience feeling cheated, as nothing shown "actually" happened. Not helping matters is this trope's overuse, which made it a Discredited Trope.
- Anvilicious: Some stories try to make a moral point, but some of those stories are so unsubtle that they wind up boring people and turning them off of the message. The aversion of this is Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped, where the heavy-handedness and lack of subtlety actually improves the work (regardless of whether one agrees with it or not).
- Green Aesop: Can easily become Anvilicious, but sometimes can tell a good story.
- Audience-Alienating Premise: Some survive on word of mouth and go on to become cult classics, if not quite successful, but most wind up dead right out the gate.
- Author Filibuster: Making your opinions clear to the audience can be done well, but most of the time winds up offending people who disagree with you and boring those who don't care (or even bores and offends those who agree with you).
- Blue and Orange Morality: Many writers are incapable of effectively portraying a truly alien set of values and morals. Usually, it comes off simply as another variant of evil.
- Bowdlerise: Some good writers have been able to make clean versions about as good as the original material, it's just that most merely substitute something. (cf. Disneyfication)
- Card-Carrying Villain: While they can be entertaining, they nonetheless tend to be flat characters, and it's very easy to make the card too obvious — people in real life are rarely if ever that openly evil.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Often overused to the extent of having no impact. This isn't to say either is in and of itself bad - but if you're just fucking going FUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCK, fucking asking yourself fucking why is a fucking good idea, because it can get fucking boring and lose its fucking impact fucking fast... though that can have entertaining results when the point is to do exactly that.note The trope itself isn't bad (no matter what Moral Guardians say) but it is one you have to think about because you as the writer have to make "fuck" an inherently funny word, or make it really express the emotion of your character as opposed to "must put in my allowance of 20 fucks."
- Continuity Porn: Fans like acknowledging earlier parts of a work, it's just that it often bogs down the script so that no one but the hardcore fans can understand it.
- Crosses the Line Twice: An offensive joke that falls flat is merely offensive. Touchy subjects are best left to comedians skilled enough to make them funny.
- Dancing Bear: A solid work can still exist with a gimmick. It's just that most works that fall under this rely too much on the gimmick to substitute for the quality of the work.
- Darker and Edgier: In theory, this process simply Retools a series to make it more cynical and to deal with more mature subjects. In practice, the majority of the time, it simply results in an increase in sex, violence and swearing (not to mention those limit the audience of shows that had broader appeal).
- Deus Angst Machina: Having things happen to a character just to make them angsty could make the audience mad.
- Developing Doomed Characters: Done well, these kind of scenes can add something to a work. It's just that most are boring and annoying.
- Doing In the Scientist: Good examples fit the setting well and can make fantastic plot points more believable. Most examples come out of nowhere, don't fit the setting, and make things even less plausible.
- Doing In the Wizard: For the same reason as scientists.
- Dumb Blonde: While they can be comedic, these days they tend to be flat and can tick off feminists.
- Escort Mission: Can sometimes make the level more frantic and urgent, but all too often forces the player to unfairly compensate for their ally's suicidal stupidity.
- Executive Meddling: Neutral in itself and can result in good or bad things, and indeed there have been examples where Executive Meddling has prevented a bad idea from being executed, closed loopholes and exploits, or got a work put past production. The more negative examples tend to stand out a little more, are more likely to be mentioned, and are more likely to be included on this wiki.
- Evil Versus Evil: When used as a primary conflict, it has a serious risk of inducing Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy.
- Family-Unfriendly Aesop: Unusual morals in a work can sometimes make good points and make its audience rethink their morals, but most of the time, they just confuse and outrage the audience.
- Fix Fic: Most of the time, these are written for Die for Our Ship reasons or turn the main character into a Possession Sue. However, the well-written ones tend to be among the most highly acclaimed fanfics by the fan community.
- Flanderization: Can be used to rule out unnecessary traits and create an even more memorable character (e.g. Billy Mays, Chuck Jones' portrayal of Daffy Duck), but more often results in a complex character being reduced to a one-dimensional caricature of themselves.
- Flat Character: A character that doesn't receive Character Development but still receives a lot of focus can end up being hated by the audience.
- Franchise Zombie: A few "zombie" continuations are considered to be as good or even superior to the original, the problem is that most attempts end up being of lesser qualities.
- Generic Doomsday Villain: Most examples in media are often dull, uninspired, and in need of characterization but some can either be an actual force of nature or an Eldritch Abomination, not intended to be a character but really a problem to be dealt with.
- Glurge: Sentimentality is usually only a tasteful thing when not done with a heavy hand, and when it's used to manipulate an audience it comes off as rather vulgar.
- In Name Only: You can still tell a good story that is completely different than the source one, it's just that most end up telling weak stories (often in the misguided belief that the brand name alone can make it successful).
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: This trope can still make sense if it is justified, but often, it is used to deliver an Anvilicious Aesop, without caring about whether it makes sense in-story.
- Jump Scare: These can be scary if the story establishes a creepy atmosphere beforehand, but usually they're just annoying.
- Just Eat Gilligan: See "Forgotten Phlebotinum"
- Karma Houdini: When said villain is a Creator's Pet or escapes due to a Diabolus Ex Machina. Like Shoot the Shaggy Dog below, this might make your audience feel cheated.
- Kids Rock: Often seen as a mawkish, overwrought attempt to draw out emotion, or, depending on the lyrics and atmosphere of the song and/or the style of the artists, just plain creepy.
- Kudzu Plot: Make sure you tie up most (if not all) your dangling Plot Threads. Otherwise, your audience is going to get confused and most likely impatient.
- Leave the Camera Running: Some works need a slow pacing to achieve the best effect. However, most works that fall under this trope don't know how to keep themselves interesting as they slow down.
- Lighter and Softer: It can be a good idea to turn down the darkness if it gets too intense, but too often this can be the result of Bowdlerization or the intervention of Moral Guardians, resulting in weak plots and flat characters. See Tastes Like Diabetes.
- The Load: See The Millstone.
- The Millstone: When used intentionally (Played for Laughs or Played for Drama), they can add a lot to the work. In most cases though, the character ends up being The Scrappy.
- Non-Actor Vehicle: Sometimes, if you hire a celebrity that is not known for acting or not even acted before, he/she can prove himself/herself a good actor/actress and it's possible to start an acting career for him/her, but most of the times, this celebrity doesn't have enough talent for acting and his/her presence will be just a gimmick.
- Offstage Villainy: We need to see that the villain is evil. Being told so doesn't automatically make him/her "evil". It takes skill to finesse an effective Discretion Shot.
- Pandering to the Base: Usually this fails to please the fans and only serves to alienate/lock out newcomers to the series. When done right however it can cause the fandom to rejoice while still keeping new/casual fans in mind.
- Postscript Season: A few of these can be as good quality as the seasons before it, but mostly they aren't. After all, the main conflict has already been resolved, so where do you go from there?
- Race Tropes: Tread carefully with these; they are very sensitive issues, to say the least.
- Romantic Plot Tumor: A well-done Romance Arc can certainly make things more interesting if done well, but it shouldn't overtake the main plotline.
- Ron the Death Eater: Shoehorning a good canon character into being a villain or making a villain significantly more evil than in canon. Like with Draco in Leather Pants above, risks the pitfalls of going Out of Character in general. You should have a good reason for the All-Loving Hero suddenly being a complete Jerkass.
- Running the Asylum: It's just that most fall into the pitfalls listed in the description.
- The Sexual Harassment and Rape Tropes: Rape can be a topic for effective drama and even comedy, but usually it's either just thrown in for no other reason than to be edgy, or handled in a way that carries glaring Unfortunate Implications.
- Shocking Swerve: Twists can be done right where there's a subtle build up that isn't necessarily noticed originally, but seems genius in hindsight. However, most are of the Vince Russo variety which are twists for the sake of twists, sometimes directly flying in the face of common sense or established story and character elements, and quickly begin to bore and annoy the audience. This is double true for Pro Wrestling, which seems to enjoy pulling baffling swerves out of their ass at every opportunity.
- The Smurfette Principle: When said Smurfette is a Faux Action Girl or undergoes Chickification.
- Standard Snippet: Sometimes can be put to good use, but often becomes a cliche.
- Strictly Formula: Done right, even though all episodes of a show/installments in a franchise follow the same pattern, it can still be creative, the stories can still look new and fresh, and it's possible to subvert and double-subvert the formula once in a while, and sometimes the work can't be done right without it, but done bad, the work can become boring and predictable, and people won't like being told the same story over and over again.
- We're Still Relevant, Dammit: Often is poorly-researched, and comes across as being Totally Radical. Can often lead to a Dork Age.
- Writer on Board: You can include your beliefs in a narrative. It's just that most use it to try to force their beliefs or issues into them. Sometimes, this works but other times it can be annoying (and a lot of the time, it depends on the audience).