Symbolism is a very old, common and broad trope used to represent an idea, belief, event or other similar things by using a lesser object or event to represent it. For example, the color green will often represent envy and jealousy or red may represent wrath. Objects can symbolize many different things as well: An apple could easily represent temptation, conflict
or knowledge depending on how it's used. In a mundane way, you can even have very common cases like a flag representing a country.
As such a widespread and useful trope for making a point, symbolism has a massive amount of usage and subtropes, so please do not list examples on this page.
- Arc Symbol: A symbol appears over and over again, often with no explanation for what it means until much later.
- Color Motif: Colors often represent complex emotions or ideas such as passion, warmth, wisdom or love.
- Crucified Hero Shot: A character makes a grave sacrifice and ends up with their body positioned as though it were crucified.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Metaphoric symbolism.
- Dying for Symbolism: Death of a character is death of hope.
- Environmental Symbolism: The setting represents the mood.
- Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: Everything can be seen as religious symbolism.
- Faux Symbolism: When a trope seems symbolic, but closer examination reveals that it makes no sense.
- Freud Was Right: Whatever it is, it represents sex.
- Gold and White Are Divine: Gold and white are precious, rare and valuable and therefore associated with God or the gods.
- Gold Tooth: The character is wealthy but likely ostentatious and villainous.
- Good Colors, Evil Colors: Certain colors indicate morality and personality.
- Heavenly Blue: Divinity or holiness are associated with blue due to the association with the sky.
- Mating Dance: Represents sex.
- Messianic Archetype: This guy represents Jesus.
- Pelvic Thrust: Pelvic thrusts represent sexual intercourse.
- Phallic Weapon: Weapons represent penises.
- Pink Heroine: Pink is associated with youthful femininity so the heroine of a girl-targeted show is often decked out in pink.
- Purple Is Powerful: Purple is regal, powerful and amazing.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Red eyes are unnatural and red is a color with a mixed reputation, making red eyes dangerous.
- Red Is Heroic: Red is associated with blood, masculinity and power, so heroes often wear red.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Reptiles are associated with villainy.
- Rule of Symbolism: When symbolism is used in a manner that would otherwise break the Willing Suspension of Disbelief but is swallowed by the reader because it gets across the real point so well.
- Serpent of Immortality: Snakes symbolise immortality, regeneration and rebirth.
- Something Else Also Rises: Something represents an erection or arousal.
- Stock Monster Symbolism: Certain monsters represent certain fears like drug addiction or STDs.
- Supernatural Is Purple: Magical things are often purple to represent their mystique.
- Surreal Symbolic Heads: A person's head is replaced by something bizarre and meaningful.
- Swan Boats: Riding swans, having swan-shaped boats or boats pulled by swan represent love, romance, leisure or art.
- Symbolic Blood: It's not blood... technically.
- Symbolic Mutilation: A missing body part or injury reveals something about the character.
- Symbol Motif Clothing: A character's clothing regularly represents something important about them.
- Tempting Apple: Apples symbolise temptation and desire.
- Tools of Sapience: A nude character (human or non-human) is shown to be sapient by carrying and using artifacts.
- World of Symbolism: The story is built out of symbolism. Reading it literally is a waste of your time.
- Yellow Eyes of Sneakiness: A character with yellow eyes is thought to have a sneaky and conniving nature.