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Trope Distinctions: J-R
Part 4 of the Canonical List of Subtle Trope Distinctions. Items are sorted alphabetically by whichever trope is alphabetically first; if you're looking for one in specific, use the "Find" or "Search" function of your Web browser.


Jack of All Stats vs. Master of None

  • When a character's strength is that he has no weaknesses, he's the Jack of All Stats.
  • When a character's weakness is that he has no strengths, he's the Master of None.

Jumping the Shark vs. Ruined FOREVER

  • Jumping the Shark is when fans look back over a series that has suffered a decline in quality and identify the turning point where things started to go downhill.
  • Ruined FOREVER is when the latest installment of a series is released and the fans are so unhappy with some element that they issue a knee-jerk declaration that it's a shark jump before anyone can tell if the series is going downhill for sure.

Junk Rare vs. Promotional Powerless Piece of Garbage

Justified Trope vs. Truth in Television

Kawaii vs. Moe

  • Kawaisa/Kawaii is anything that appeals to a broad (Japanese) audience thanks to its Generic Cuteness.
  • Moe caters to the audience's particular fetishes and is usually aimed at smaller groups (creating larger thematic diversity).

Kick the Dog vs. Poke the Poodle vs. Moral Event Horizon vs. Jumping Off the Slippery Slope

  • Kick the Dog is when an action reminds us who the villain is, and is otherwise pointless: evil for evil's sake.
  • Poke the Poodle is kicking that's nowhere near extreme enough, so that the villain fails at seeming evil.
  • The Moral Event Horizon may be crossed by an action that is or is not a Dog Kick; instead, it is about the sheer moral depravity of the act, to the point that the audience now wants the character who crossed it dead.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope is when a previously-ambiguous character does something clearly villainous, so the hero is free to stop them without debating the morality of the earlier, ambiguous behavior.

Kid With The Remote Control vs. Kid with the Leash

  • Kid With The Remote Control is a person who has complete control over a powerful, and often entirely neutral, entity that only obeys their commands.
  • Kid with the Leash is when the powerful entity is actively malevolent or at least highly destructive when left to its own devices. The kid in this case is not only responsible for directing it but actively keeping it from wreaking havoc.

Kill 'em All vs. Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies

Kill It with Fire vs. Playing with Fire

Knight in Sour Armor v SnarkKnight, The

  • A Knight in Sour Armor, so to speak, will fight nobly for a world despite being very cynical about it.
  • The Snark Knight is a person who is snide and sarcastic about everyone because they hold people, him/herself included, to a very high standard.

Knight Templar vs. The Knights Templar vs. Well-Intentioned Extremist

Kuudere vs. Tsundere vs. Yandere vs. Cute and Psycho

  • A Kuudere appears cold at first, but is softer and more loving underneath.
  • A Tsundere comes in two variants:
    • A Type A acts angry or aloof, but has a softer side that can (usually) be triggered by specific people.
    • A Type B is nice and affectionate by default, but can be aggressive on occasion. Note that the Type B Tsundere will be far more stable than the Cute and Psycho or Yandere.
  • A Yandere is a character who may appear sweet on the surface, but underneath is obsessive or even psychotic over someone they love.
  • Cute and Psycho is a character whose sweetness hides a violent or psychotic side. Unlike the Yandere, the reason for this violent side does not have to be related to love.

Kuudere vs. Tin Man

  • A Kuudere is a character, usually female, that comes off as unemotional at first, often with some elements of The Spock, yet has a sweet, cute, and nurturing side that is there all along but that she rarely shows.
  • A Tin Man claims to have no emotions, yet their actions directly contradict this. It is clear to the audience that the character was ruled by their emotions all along. Has a much higher chance of being male than the Kuudere.

The Lad-ette vs. Tomboy

  • A Lad-ette is an adult female who behaves like a rough-and-rowdy guy, and may have been a Tomboy in her youth.
  • A Tomboy is a girl (usually prepubescent) who engages in boy-like behavior and play, and might grow up to be a Ladette.

Leeroy Jenkins vs. Spanner in the Works vs. Unwitting Instigator of Doom

Legacy Character vs. Legacy Immortality vs. The Nth Doctor vs. The Other Darrin vs. Replacement Scrappy vs. Suspiciously Similar Substitute:

  • A Legacy Character is a specific character/role that's filled in-universe by several different people over the course of a work's history for various reasons.
  • Legacy Immortality is when a Legacy Character is perceived in-universe as one immortal character rather than different people taking over a character/role.
  • A Suspiciously Similar Substitute is a new character that has the same role, personality traits, etc. as a previous character that's no longer in the work, for no in-universe reason.
  • The Other Darrin is when a new actor takes over for his/her predecessor as a character, and the change is not explained in-universe.
  • The Nth Doctor is like The Other Darrin, but there's an in-universe explanation for the role change.
  • A Replacement Scrappy is a character that takes the place of another character for whatever reason and becomes disliked by the fanbase as a result.

Living MacGuffin vs. MacGuffin Girl

Long Runner Tech Marches On vs. Technology Marches On

  • In a case of Technology Marches On, viewers watching an older show are amused to see obsolete technology treated by the characters and setting as "cutting-edge" or even common.
  • Long Runner Tech Marches On is when this happens In-Universe, because a show was on for so long that what was cutting-edge technology at the time it began became obsolete before it finished.

Luke, I Am Your Father vs. Luke, You Are My Father

Machine Empathy vs. Technopath

  • A person with Machine Empathy has so much experience with a device or a craft that he notices very subtle differences in its behavior.
  • The Technopath is a person who can control machines with a physical or mental interface.

Made of Iron vs Super Toughness

  • Made of Iron is when a character is inexplicably durable despite not having a clear durability-boosting power.
  • Super Toughness is an explicit superpower that grants superhuman durability.

Mary Sue vs. its subtypes

  • Mary Sue is the Super Trope. The exact definition is hard to pin down, but generally speaking, a Mary Sue is an overly-idealized character in a Fan Fic that exists mainly for the author's Wish Fulfillment and which the audience can easily see as an Author Avatar.
    • An Anti-Sue is a character that's depicted as the polar opposite of typical Sue-ish qualities (extremely ugly, nasty personality, etc.), but is still treated as a Sue by the story.
    • A Black Hole Sue is a character that the story warps around in outrageous ways to make him/her much more plot-central than what would normally happen.
    • A Canon Sue is a canon character that's written as a Sue of any type, for whatever reason.
    • A Copy Cat Sue is when a new character is introduced that is a blatant ripoff of a canon character but is tailored to fit the author's desires.
    • A Dream Sue is when a non-Sue character has Sue-like levels of perfection in his/her dreams.
    • An Einstein Sue is a character that is removed from the current crisis to a lengthy degree for one reason or another but can fix the problem when no one else can.
    • A Fixer Sue is a new character or a rewrite of a canon character that is used to correct what the author feels was wrong with the canon plot.
    • A God-Mode Sue is an extremely overpowered character that breaks Willing Suspension of Disbelief and basically functions as a power fantasy for the author.
    • A Jerk Sue constantly exhibits abusive and/or boorish behavior but is never called on it by the rest of the cast, who see the character as idealized in one way or another.
    • A Lemon Stu is a lemon character who typically is an unrealistically successful/potent lover, and often can warp his partners' desires to match his and get away scot-free with rapacious behavior.
    • Marty Stu is Mary Sue's Distaff Counterpart.
    • A Mary Sue Classic is the archetypal Sue character, mainly characterized by perfection in everything and excessive adoration or admiration from other characters. It's especially associated with the Purity Sue type.
    • A Mary Suetopia is a country where life for its citizens is so perfect that it reaches Sue-level credibility stretching.
    • A Mary Tzu is The Chessmaster , The Strategist, and/or a military commander whose plans and schemes constantly succeed no matter the odds or cost, to the point of breaking Willing Suspension of Disbelief.
    • A Neutrality Sue uses his/her moral neutrality as an excuse to literally do anything, with no fear of consequences.
    • A Parody Sue is a character that's deliberately portrayed as a Sue in order to make fun of and/or deconstruct the trope.
    • A Possession Sue is a canon character that's rewritten to match how the author thinks the character should have been portrayed.
    • A Purity Sue is defined by Incorruptible Pure Pureness, is loved by everyone because of this to an unrealistic degree, and saturates the plot with positivity.
    • A Relationship Sue is a new character or a rewrite of a canon character done specifically to create a romantic pairing with another character.
    • A Sympathetic Sue is an unrealistically angsty character who draws sympathy from every character regardless of personality and never addresses his/her angst in a meaningful way.
    • A Thirty Sue Pileup happens when multiple characters are deliberately written as Sues of one type or another or can be interpreted as such.
    • A Villain Sue takes the general Wish Fulfillment aspects of a Mary Sue and applies them to an evil character, allowing him/her to run roughshod over heroic characters in unrealistic ways.

Meanwhile, in the Future vs. Portal to the Past vs. San Dimas Time

  • Portal to the Past: There is a permanent portal linking two different times together. Most likely, one hour on one side of the portal equals one hour on the other side, but dilations are possible.
  • San Dimas Time: The characters behave as if spending an hour in another time means that they will have to return to the point in time that is one hour after when they left. This is not explained or reflected upon, and is probably false.
  • Meanwhile, in the Future: The narrator treats two different plot threads in different times as if they were happening simultaneously, despite the fact that the plot thread in the past is going to be resolved long before the thread in the future starts (using chronological time).

Mighty Whitey vs. White Man's Burden

  • Mighty Whitey is when a Caucasian hero encounters a foreign culture, and soon becomes the most skilled member of the group.
  • White Man's Burden is a plot where a Caucasian Everyman meets an underprivileged non-white character, then selflessly works to improve that person's lot in life.

Mile-Long Ship vs. Planet Spaceship vs. Starship Luxurious vs. Unnecessarily Large Vessel

Moral Dissonance vs. What the Hell, Hero? vs. Values Dissonance

  • Moral Dissonance is when a hero (not already known as a sociopath) acts immorally, jerkishly, or just plain against their character, but other characters don't notice or recognize it that way.
  • What the Hell, Hero? is when the action is not only noticed and recognized by all characters, but has fallout inside the show.
  • Values Dissonance is when the characters act normally for their culture of origin, but viewers outside the setting don't recognize that as "normal".

Morality Chain vs. Morality Pet

  • A Morality Chain is someone special to the Blood Knight whose strict moral creed is the only thing keeping them from slaughtering everybody.
  • A Morality Pet is someone special to a Jerk Ass or Blood Knight who presents the opportunity to show some leeway towards heroism or at least peaceful co-existence with heroes and neutrals (and the audience may like the character more).

Morph Weapon vs. Shapeshifter Weapon

Mundane Wish vs. Wasteful Wishing

  • Mundane Wish is when a character is given a limited number of wishes, and the wisher deliberately chooses something mundane or simple of his own free will. This may occur because the wisher is an honest person who doesn't want or need anything grandiose, or he is Genre Savvy enough to counteract the backfire potential of a literal or Jerkass Genie.
  • Wasteful Wishing is when a character is given a limited number of wishes, but wastes them on something completely frivolous or silly even though he'd prefer something more grandiose. This usually occurs because the person making the wish was goofing around or panicked.

Murder Is the Best Solution vs. Violence is the Only Option

My Nayme Is vs. Spell My Name with an S

  • My Nayme Is deals with names that are intentionally spelled in an unusual fashion.
  • Spell My Name with an S revolves around unusual name spellings or disagreements over name spelling resulting from translation issues.

My Significance Sense Is Tingling vs. Spider-Sense vs. A Storm Is Coming

Narrow Parody vs. Shallow Parody

Negative Continuity vs. Status Quo Is God

  • With Negative Continuity, the status quo does change quite a bit, but it has absolutely no effect on further stories.
  • Status Quo Is God refers to the tendency of series to avoid doing anything that would cause the status quo to change, or if it does change, to undo those changes as quickly as possible.

Never Grew Up vs. Not Growing Up Sucks vs. Not Allowed to Grow Up

Nietzsche Wannabe vs. ‹bermensch

  • An ‹bermensch is someone who has discarded conventional moral and social restraints and often seeks to elevate himself over humanity or make a better world. Nietzsche's actual philosophy.
  • A Nietzsche Wannabe is someone who takes "life is meaningless" to its ultimate extreme, becoming nihilistic and/or hedonistic and often engaging in wanton destruction to prove his point. The Theme Park Version of Nietzsche's philosophy.

No One Could Survive That vs. Not Quite Dead vs. Staying Alive

  • No One Could Survive That is when a character is assumed to be dead, but without adequate proof.
  • Not Quite Dead is when that character is revealed to have survived the incident, often with a good explanation.
  • Staying Alive is when the character dies beyond the shadow of a doubt, and simply returns later, often without a good explanation

Not Drawn to Scale vs. Artistic License - Engineering

Not in My Contract vs. Not What I Signed On For

  • Not in My Contract is a character refusing to do some task that falls outside his stated job description. It is usually an expression of simple laziness or a ploy to demand additional compensation.
  • Not What I Signed On For is a character raising an objection after learning that the job or situation is not as originally advertised. It is often motivated by ethical qualms about the newly revealed real mission.

Notzilla vs. Rent-a-Zilla

One Mario Limit vs. One Steve Limit

  • One Mario Limit is when a name becomes so famous, any other characters with that same name will bring to mind that character.
  • One Steve Limit is when no two characters in a series have similar-sounding names.

One of the Kids vs. Manchild

  • Both are adults who usually behave like children.
    • Someone who's One of the Kids interacts very often with people noticeably younger and can act their own age, only they choose not to most of the time.
    • A Manchild fails to grow up emotionally and adapt to life in society, and tends to have some sort of antisocial behaviour.

One-Winged Angel vs. Sequential Boss vs. Turns Red

Only Idiots May Pass vs. Stupidity Is the Only Option vs. Violation of Common Sense

  • Only Idiots May Pass is where the game requires the player to perform an erroneous or unnecessary action despite a better option that should be available, usually because the player isn't expected to use the better option yet.
  • Stupidity Is the Only Option is where the game requires the player to perform a visibly stupid, immoral or illogical action, and then punishes the player for doing it.
  • Violation of Common Sense is where the game requires the player to perform a visibly stupid, immoral or illogical action, and then rewards the player for doing it.

Optional Sexual Encounter vs. Relationship Values vs. Romance Sidequest

Orgasmic Combat vs. Sex Is Violence

  • Orgasmic Combat is when a combat scene begins to sound more like something else.
  • Sex Is Violence is when one or more of the combatants is actually sexually aroused by the fight.

Palette Swap vs. Underground Monkey

  • A Palette Swap is when a new character in a video game is created by simply changing the color palette of an existing character.
  • Underground Monkeys are new characters that expand a character type or family by making slight changes to a base character's stats and/or appearance, usually noted by adding something descriptive to the existing character's name.

Parenthetical Swearing vs. Unusual Euphemism

  • Parenthetical Swearing is when a character says a phrase that, taken out of context and without inflection, would come off as a completely ordinary, sensible, and inoffensive statement; however, its context and inflection makes it sound like the speaker is swearing. The speaker will almost always be angry or upset.
  • Unusual Euphemism is when a character says a word or phrase that is meant to replace a swear or "adult" topic, which often makes no sense in context. The speaker need not be angry or upset for an Unusual Euphemism.

Platonic Life Partners vs. Like Brother and Sister vs. Better as Friends vs. Just Friends

  • Platonic Life Partners are two people who are as close as any married couple, but share no romantic involvement. Often the thought never really crosses their minds.
  • Like Brother and Sister is like the above, but the relationship is more sibling-like and thoughts of romance are put aside because it would feel too weird.
  • Better as Friends is when the two actually have tried dating, but preferred their non-romantic relationship.
  • Just Friends is when any of the above actually do start dating (with the chance that things could loop back around to any of the above tropes).

Plot Tailored to the Party vs. This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman

The Power of Cheese vs. Too Incompetent to Operate a Blanket

  • The Power of Cheese is the people in a commercial doing stupid, dangerous or crazy things because the product is just that good.
  • Too Incompetent to Operate a Blanket is when the ad attempts to convince the audience that they need the product by showing people having severe difficulty doing the task "the old way". The Old Way usually involves something as simple as a colander, a pair of scissors, or a blanket.

Psycho Supporter vs. Yandere

  • The Psycho Supporter supports another character's opinions and goals because he or she is insane.
  • The Yandere is someone who goes Ax-Crazy over someone they love, or loves because he or she is insane — the clingy jealous person gone violent, if you will.
    • Note that the two tropes may not be mutually exclusive.

Psychotic Smirk vs. Slasher Smile

  • A Psychotic Smirk is a small smile that usually doesn't show teeth and gives the character an air of smug superiority.
  • A Slasher Smile shows teeth and gives the character an overtly malicious/insane appearance, or enhances what's already there.

Pun vs. Stealth Pun

  • Pun: Puns in general.
  • Stealth Pun: A pun that isn't explicitly said; you have to put it together yourself.

Puppy Love vs. Toy Ship

  • Puppy Love is when two pre-adolescent characters are in a romantic-type relationship, in-universe.
  • Toy Ship is when two pre-adolescent characters are placed in a romantic-type relationship by the fandom.

The Quiet One vs. The Speechless vs. Silent Bob vs. The Voiceless

  • The Quiet One can talk but will only do so to deliver a Whoopi Epiphany Speech or something equally profound.
  • The Speechless is a character who never talks, ever. They might be mute, but normally aren't and simply choose never to talk. If The Speechless ever talks, he becomes The Quiet One.
  • Silent Bob is also functionally the Speechless, but he communicates (often very "verbosely") through his body language, especially if it involves facial expressions.
  • The Voiceless is functionally The Speechless, except he talks plenty...only it's always offscreen. Usually done for laughs with characters commenting on how he's a chatterbox.

Reign of Terror vs. Full-Circle Revolution

  • Both deal with revolutions against an established government.
    • Reign of Terror is when, after a revolution occurs, the new regime becomes tyrannical and bloodthirsty.
    • A Full-Circle Revolution is when a revolution replicates the conditions that incited the revolution in the first place.

Reset Button vs. Snapback

  • Reset Button is when a plot point is "reset" onscreen during the course of the story (usually at the end); by the time it's done it's as if that event never happened.
  • Snapback is when a plot point is resolved offscreen; by the time the next episode begins or the story returns to the characters, everything is back to normal.

Ret Gone vs. Unperson

  • Both of these tropes involve the functional destruction of a person's history; the difference lies in the completeness of this event.
    • A Ret Gone simply erases the character from history. They don't exist, they never existed, and nothing they did ever happened in the first place.
    • Being Unpersoned involves the destruction or alteration of all records, sometimes up to and including memory alteration, but the person still existed — or perhaps exists — and there may be evidence of this if you're persistent enough.

Romantic Two-Girl Friendship vs. Schoolgirl Lesbians

Rousing Speech vs. He's Back vs. Heroic Resolve vs. Shut Up, Hannibal! vs. "World of Cardboard" Speech


G-ICanonical List of Subtle Trope DistinctionsS-Z
G-IAdministrivia/Hyphenated TitlesS-Z

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