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Maxims of trope philosophy
Maxims Of Trope Philosophy
- A trope exists with or without us. It's defined by the way it's used in media, not by one guy in YKTTW. We can't make fiat changes to a recurring pattern in fiction; we only identify it and describe it as best we can.
- A good trope definition tells the reader something they already know.
- If we try to lock tropes into a rigorous structure with straight lines and hard edges, we're missing the forest for the trees. In reality, tropes don't conform to any arbitrary grid. They are Flexible. Our definitions need to be flexible too.
- Rule Number Two of TV Tropes: be accessible and fun to read. Rule Number Three: the wiki is for reaching the reader. That means we want to match their expectations—not try to make them match ours.
- If we can remove unnecessary complication from a trope, we should. Bureaucracy is a barrier, and we want the readers to see as little of it as possible.
- The definition is derived from the examples, not the other way around. Our trope pages are describing something that already exists. Keep this in mind when analyzing a Wick Check.
- A trope's description is a description that (hopefully) includes the definition. Not everything in it is part of the trope's core definition. Exercise your judgement.
- When we describe a trope, sometimes we make a mistake and describe it wrong. In such cases, do not be this guy.
- A useful heuristic for deciding whether a trope is defined too strictly: imagine the relaxed version already existed, and the current version were proposed in YKTTW. Would it be The Same but More Specific? If yes, it can probably loosen up. If the broader version is a trope in its own right, and close enough to the narrower version that they can't coexist on the wiki, might as well be inclusive.
Hi. My name is Jasper, and I'm addicted to TV Tropes
TV Tropes is a wiki dedicated to cataloguing tropes, the patterns and conventions that appear in fiction. If stories are cakes, tropes are the milk, eggs, and flour, and TV Tropes wiki is a massive archive of cookbooks.
I don't remember how I first came across TV Tropes. I can't say what first hooked me on the taxonomy of narrative devices. Maybe it was this xkcd
strip, making a joke about the danger of the TV Tropes Wiki Walk
, and I fell for the Schmuck Bait
. Or maybe it was the casual Pot Hole
links left by careless (or possibly malevolent) members of the online forums I browsed regularly. Maybe I happened to stumble upon a trope page through a Google
search. I don't remember. One way or another, I ended up here, and I've been stuck ever since.
Here at TV Tropes
, we have a saying: TV Tropes Will Ruin Your Life
It may seem harmless, dissecting your favorite movies and TV shows and video games to study the parts that make up the whole. But sooner or later, the tropes infect you, and your trope-tainted eyes never see fiction in the same way again. The innocence is gone forever—all stories become a gnarled mass of cliches that you've Seen A Million Times
. What was once a delicious cake is now a lump of milk, eggs, and flour. And it gets worse: you can't let go. Hours of your life disappear, sucked into the all-consuming time Vortex Of Doom
that is the TV Tropes Wiki. This is the fate of the Troper.
For me, it started out innocently. Just the occasional Wiki Walk
to take my mind off of whatever homework I happened to be avoiding at the time. I'd read a page about a trope and start scrolling through the examples. Inevitably, halfway down a page like Enemy Mine
(the one where the good guys team up with the bad guys to fight a greater enemy that threatens them both), I'd go "Oh hey, that's right! The Animorphs
team up with their Arch-Nemesis
Visser Three to escape from the Villain of the Week
in Book 36! I remember that!" And, in typical Browser Narcotic
fashion, I'd have opened a new tab for the Animorphs
page (click), the Arch-Nemesis
page (click), and the Villain of the Week
page (click) out of pure reflex. Naturally, halfway down Villain of the Week
, I'd get distracted by a Powerpuff Girls
listing (click), and the whole process would repeat itself until I'd snap out of my trope-induced trance hours later, bleary-eyed and drooling, with a mysterious compulsion to re-read Huckleberry Finn
. Y'know, just the typical TV Tropes stuff. I told myself I could quit any time I liked.
It wasn't long before I began finding excuses to get lost in the digital labyrinth of Tropeland. I'd finish watching a movie and immediately hop onto TV Tropes to dig through its tropes. "Oh yeah, The Princess and the Frog
really does have a cool Villain Song
! (click)" "So Groundhog Day
is the Trope Namer
for the "Groundhog Day" Loop
plot (the one where a character relives the same day over and over)? (click) Ha, that makes sense, huh? It was the Trope Codifier
, after all."
TV Tropes Will Ruin Your Vocabulary
began to set in as tropes weaseled their way into my conversational lexicon. I would explain to my brother that all of the Plot Holes
could be easily Hand Waved
away by the Literary Agent Hypothesis
. I was pointing out Lampshade Hangings
and Subverted Tropes
in the movie theater. I was slipping Egregious into my casual conversation.
Still, I knew I could quit any time I liked.
Somewhere along the line, I metamorphosed into an editor. I think it was the FunOrb
page that triggered it. I'm a veteran FunOrb
player, you see, and when I came upon its article and saw it was a stub, well, it must have called out to the editor in me. When the editing haze finally lifted and I leaned back from the keyboard to admire my work, the page had roughly quadrupled in length. Now I was the one writing the cake recipes.
I became involved in the forums. Turns out the wiki has a whole forum called the Trope Repair Shop
where broken tropes with bad titles, poor descriptions, or misused examples can go to get fixed up, and all of a sudden I wasn't just editing tropes, I was arguing with other Tropers about how
they needed to be edited. Then there was Image Pickin'
, where Tropers embark on a communal quest for the perfect image to represent a trope. Out of all the pictures of people pointing swords, which one is most worthy of illustrating Sword Pointing
? This is the sort of thing I was thinking about.
When I got tired of cleaning up broken tropes in the Trope Repair Shop
, I started hanging around the You Know That Thing Where
section, where new tropes are born, to catch the bad Snowclones
and the People Sitting On Chairs
before they could reach the main site. It was lunacy. I must have been obsessed. But I was sure I could quit any time I liked.
Here at TV Tropes
, we have another saying: TV Tropes Will Enhance Your Life
Yeah, knowledge of patterns and conventions can irreversibly change the way you look at fiction. Yeah, you start to see the proverbial wires and harness that are holding up the proverbial Peter Pan
. But just because I know the Fairy Dust is ordinary glitter doesn't mean I can't think happy thoughts and Clap My Hands If I Believe
. Some people say rainbows lose their beauty once you start Measuring the Marigolds
and learn how they work...but if you know the physics behind the phenomenon, you'll know when to look for a rainbow, which side of the sky to check, and how to find the second rainbow. The magic's not gone; it's just different and, in many ways, richer.
Yeah, it's easy to get lost in a Wiki Walk
, following blue links like Cookie Monster
follows an Oreo truck. But there's an upside to all that wasted time: all the combing through examples of tropes like Nintendo Hard
(the one where a video game is frustratingly difficult) and Better Than a Bare Bulb
(the one where a story is constantly pointing out all its own cliches) exposes Tropers to all kinds of works they might otherwise never have experienced. TV Tropes introduced me to the absurdly difficult Platform Game I Wanna Be the Guy
; the dark and edgy animated cartoon Gargoyles
; the original Role-Playing Game
, Final Fantasy
; That Guy with the Glasses
, a website with comedic video reviews of bad movies; the epic fantasy Webcomics Order Of The Stick
and 8-Bit Theater
; The Angry Video Game Nerd
, who swears at bad video games in online videos; and let's not forget the Discworld
series, some of the best literature I've ever read. Seriously, Terry Pratchett is the bomb.
Yeah, it might confuse people when I start dropping words like Narm
, but tropes like these are the grease that helps the concept slide into my head in the first place. I didn't even know the meaning of the word "Laconic
" before I came to TV Tropes, and I definitely understand Irony
Yeah, it sounds pretty nerdy to hang around on the forums debating the Trope Renaming Guidelines
, but working with other members of an online community to build a consensus on an issue has taught me a lot about humility and cooperation. I might suggest what I think is the Greatest Image Ever, and when it goes to a vote, it'll get shot down. And that's okay, because the wiki isn't about me—if the consensus is against me, I'm ready to bow down.
My name is Jasper, and I'm addicted to TV Tropes.
I can quit any time I like, I swear.
But in the meantime, I have a craving for some cake.