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.
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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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)
- Chickification: If you turn an Action Girl into a Faux Action Girl or Neutral Female, you're only going to look sexist.
- Wimpification will make you look sexist to women and men. Sometimes homophobic (e.g. insisting that being gay means one is an Uke) and transphobic (e.g. insisting that a character being a trans woman, trans man, androgyne, or crossdresser is grounds for wimpification) too, or even racist (e.g. depicting all men of a specific appearance or nationality as "wimpy")
- Cliché Storm: When viewers read/watch something, they expect a few surprises thrown into the genre of their choice; when they don't get anything new, they are bound to get bored and wind up getting the feeling that they've just wasted their money on something they have already watched.
- 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. (For two such examples, look up "Nakayubi" by Buck Tick and "Fuckingham Palace" from the Detroit Metal City soundtrack.) 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.
- 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 : See Doing in the Scientist.
- 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.
- 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.
- Fanservice: Generally harmless so long as the work in question brings something more to the table, but even when it's used in moderation, audiences tend to complain about it.
- Filler: Usually filler is good only in more lighthearted or Slice of Life shows where having a main plotline is distracting.
- 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.
- Follow the Leader: Rarely do the successors live up to the standards of the original, and grasp what made the original so successful in the first place. Or do enough to establish themselves as being different enough to stand out.
- Forgotten Phlebotinum: If your viewers are tearing their hair out screaming "Why don't they just beam them out of there?", they're not enjoying it.
- 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.
- 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.
- Idiot Plot: It's often portrayed as a bad thing and interpreted negatively... but sometimes, it actually works out so well for comedies and even dramas because the idiocy is what makes it funny or dramatic.
- Invincible Hero: There are only a few cases where the audience never wants a hero to be shown vulnerability.
- Invincible Villain: It could just make a victory at the end really, really rewarding.
- 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"
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Only The Author Can Save Them Now: A hero facing impossible odds is a classic source of drama. If the odds get too impossible, though, the audience will become detached because they can see a Deus ex Machina coming.
- 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?
- 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.
- Running the Asylum: It's just that most fall into the pitfalls listed in the description.
- The Sexual Harassment and Rape Tropes in general: Unless you're writing from/depicting the victim's perspective (or at least some degree of an anti-rape one) and even then being very careful, the Unfortunate Implications of using these are something to be seriously considered.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: You can tell a grim story about life's futility that audiences will find effective and moving, but usually, audiences will feel that you wasted their time with pointless, depressing crap.
- 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.
- The Stations of the Canon: Yes, we are curious how certain key events might happen in an Alternate Universe or Divergence — it's just that it's taken for granted that they all do happen in the fandoms with this trope, which limits the divergence of the divergences.
- Superior Species: Whilst the implications of a species that is just plain better can be very interesting for a setting, it's all too easy to have them end up landing on the unfortunate side of things. Even if that pitfall is avoided, the writer runs a serious risk of creating an entire species of Mary Sues.
- Tastes Like Diabetes: These works often have the modus operandi of being sweet and endearing drowning out any subtleties of plot or character development.
- Viewers Are Morons: Some works, especially games, require a bit of explanation to stay coherent or playable, but viewers don't like being treated like idiots, and they really don't like it when explanation disrupts the pacing.
- Vulgar Humor: While vulgarity can be funny if played right, it'll just come off as crude and immature if you screw up at it. More's the point, most funny works involving vulgarity are funny because they're well-written, whereas many creators using this trope are instead substituting vulgarity for quality.
- 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).
- Yo Yo Plot Point: Unresolving and re-resolving plot points will aggravate the audience. (This is especially true if the plot point in question is a romantic relationship, and it often is.)