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Truth In Television: S-U
Visit entries from: A to C/D to F/G to I/J to L/M to O/P to R/You are here/V to Z
  • Sabotutor: Sometimes happens in abusive relationships. In a more benign case, happens when the teacher realizes the person he's teaching is not going to use the skill for anything good (e.g. a gun instructor realizes his student is planning on committing a murder) and tries to make sure the person will be as ineffective as possible, while also likely notifying authorities if need be.
    • Also an Enforced Trope (sometimes by Moral Guardians and other times by law) in almost all televised or otherwise demonstrated drug chemistry, explosive chemistry, and similarly dangerous activities that require a process of steps or ingredients or the like - even in depictions intended for adults' eyes only. Important ingredients, process steps, etcetera will be left out, in the hopes that, say, people can't learn how to make methamphetamine from Breaking Bad or that kids watching an educational show about science won't accidentally create a bomb with mentos and Coke. Famously Lampshaded by the Mythbusters when cooking up Thermite: "don't mix blur with blur"
  • Sacred Hospitality: In much of the world for a very long time, hospitality was required of people in this way. In fact, the reason for the story of the destruction of Sodom in The Bible was not homosexuality but was that the residents of Sodom were cruel and xenophobic rather than hospitable, to the extent of raping guests who had the temerity to stay in order to humiliate them.
  • Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training: The amount of time you need to spend to become an expert on something is, on average, around 10,000 hoursnote . That time has come from somewhere - usually socialization.
  • Sadistic Choice: One of the more common and more nasty Dirty Social Tricks. One key to escaping it is remembering that there is almost always a third option, even if the third option would risk your health/life/finances/etc as much as one or both of the offered options, it might actually be worth it to avoid the person making you make such choices.
  • Sadist Teacher: A few have existed.
  • Safe, Sane and Consensual: The ethical approach to sexual activity, especially sexual activity that could involve risk beyond the usual.
  • Safe Word: Yes, people do use them. And if people don't, you should probably not be doing BDSM play with them.
  • The Savage South: Until recent times, areas near the equator were seen by many Europeans and Americans as not only unpleasantly hot but also arid or sopping wet and full of dangerous large animals like panthers and lions. If the heat or animals did not kill you, the diseases borne by biting flies or mosquitoes would. Modern advances in dealing with disease and wild animals have resulted in a more "friendly" outlook on these places as the risks are more easily managed.
  • Sand Bridge At Low Tide: Mont Saint-Michel, a French islet near the coastline of Normandy. The Bering Strait at one point.
  • Sand in My Eyes: In places and cultures where Men Don't Cry is in effect, this is often invoked as a way to get away with Manly Tears.
  • Sanity Slippage: Because when people become The Mentally Disturbed in real life, it's often a slow, agonizing public process for things like Alzheimer's dementia, uncontrolled addictions, or schizophrenia (e.g. everyone involved knows something is wrong, often including the sufferer himself/herself), or a slow, subtle, private process until the illness is moderate to severe (anxiety, functional addictions, depression, and OCD often fall in here - in the milder stages of depression, for example, you might just feel a bit hopeless and pessimistic, and no one around you can tell your inner state).
  • Sarcasm-Blind: Young age, and/or being unfamiliar with a culture and its means of sarcasm can cause this.
    • Can also happen with people on the autism spectrum. There's also neurotypical people who don't get sarcasm. Like the Dumb Blonde, or anyone unfamiliar with a language and/or culture. Aphasia and aprodosia, where because of a brain injury, someone physically cannot comprehend what you're saying, are some other reasons.
  • Sarcasm Failure: Sometimes, even the most snarky people can be overwhelmed by something so tragic or stupid there is no point in snark, either because it is Too Soon or not funny, or because the situation is so stupid it snarks itself.
  • Sarcastic Confession: Happens far more often than you think, and sometimes, it works.
  • Satan Is Good: The belief of some theistic and non-theistic Satanists, and of some other Left Hand Path beliefs.
  • Saved by the Awesome: Just like the Cowboy Cop and Military Maverick can be found in Real Life, so can this; this being the reason they exist in the first place.
  • Say It with Hearts: Some people on the internet tend to love using heart emoticons.
  • Scam Religion: They have existed. No real life examples are allowed, but people throughout history have used religion or even created religions or sects with the express or at least secondary intent of separating followers from their money.
  • Scare Campaign: How many political campaigns are run, because fear, uncertainty, and doubt appeals to low-information voters.
  • Scary Amoral Religion: Followers of monotheistic legalistic beliefs believe any religion that doesn't have a strict law code and a deity that enforces it is this, because "how can you be good without (our) God?" Alternately, some atheists and followers of religions with a hedonistic, humanistic, polytheistic, or pantheistic view view monotheistic religion with strict law codes as this - "if we rely on a book to always give us our ethics and morals, we are giving up our responsibility as individual moral beings to those who interpret that book."
  • Schizo Tech: Around us every day in most places, though at its most extreme in developing countries or places of poverty or disaster. That said, if you're reading this page on a desktop computer while in a 1970s-built building, drinking a beer (ancient) or a soda (early 1900s) as you do so, while checking a text on your smartphone, you are an example right now.
  • Schoolgirl Lesbians: If you're in high school or college, you probably know a few. Aka "LUGs" (Lesbian Until Graduation) or "Daddy's money lesbians". Bisexuality is the new "I'm soooo drunk".
  • School Newspaper Newshound: At least at the high school and college levels, this trope has surprisingly become more Truth in Television over time, since schools are often somewhat less bound to corporate media interests, there are less consequences for someone who hasn't become established in official media yet, and citizen journalism + No Such Thing as Bad Publicity has become popular among younger people. The result is that especially at the college level, a college paper reporter might have far more latitude to investigate and write a hard-hitting investigative piece and/or freelance write it for the local alternative weekly or an internet site than an establishment reporter with a long career that could be damaged beyond repair from the wrong backlash.
  • Scope Snipe: Carlos Hathcock pulled this off during the Vietnam War, but it's near impossible to do unless under the exact conditions.
  • The Scrappy: Bill collectors are one of the most hated professions out there largely in part due to their (justified) very bad reputation. Attorneys and estate agents, politicians, the list goes on.
  • Screaming Birth: Because giving birth is not a fun or enjoyable or painless experience for most, especially with natural childbirth.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Some people cannot be bought, and this is why sometimes offering a bribe can get someone nowhere except in deeper trouble.
  • Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: Because of dementia, or sometimes because of feeling as if one has earned the right not to respect younger people.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: The reason why celebrities often get off the hook.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Because only the richest can bribe their way to victory.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Politicians, corporations, and the interplay between them.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Beautiful!: Behind the Double Standard regarding student/teacher affairs and Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male - if the pedophile or ephebophile is female and hot, she often gets sympathetic treatment from the media and the victim is celebrated as somehow having "scored" rather than being a victim. If the pedophile/ephebophile is male, he is evil and the victim is seen as a tragic, Defiled Forever victim.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Along with Screw the Money, I Have Rules!, the only two here that aren't cynical.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Severe weather quite often invokes this trope, for very good reason. Here is one of the many examples where a tornado is headed for a news station
  • Screw Yourself: Is possible via realdoll or other sufficiently realistic mannequin/wax doll/etcetera, or having an explicit content roleplay with someone whose avatar looks exactly like your own in Second Life or World of Warcraft.
  • Scrub: They exist everywhere and not just in gaming, but in anything where someone can be (falsely or rightly) accused of cheating or gaming the system or not playing "by the right rules."
  • Sdrawkcab Alias: Often used for corporate naming or for places people aren't creative or interested enough in inventing a creative pseudonym.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Any drug (legal or otherwise) with a serious potential for addiction or a fatal side effect.
  • Sealed Good in a Can: The Svalbard seed vault and other heirloom and traditional seed and plant vaults and storages - the only hope of the world to avoid starving to death in the event of anything from nuclear war to a genetic modification mistake. Reserves of vaccines, medications, and other necessary health items so if there is a pandemic or a major disaster that reduces healthcare to pre 20th century levels, there's some chance at saving lives from it and/or bringing conditions back to their pre-disaster levels.
  • Secondary Fire: Many weapons have burst and autofire modes or even grenade launchers attached to the gun.
  • Second Law of Gender Bending: Applies to many if not most real life transgendered people, even if they aren't able to pass fully or their life as who they are is more difficult than had they just "not changed," etcetera.
  • Secret Identity: Instead of superheroes who do this in real life, though, it is people such as spies (who have to create new personas and identities wherever they go), identity thieves, and various internet trolls. Though it's also done by non-trolls on the internet who want to have one identity to engage in conduct that their family or boss might not approve of, or for an argument with or activity against people one does not wish to be personally identified to (e.g. one is arguing with or organizing action against Neo-Nazis or violent homophobes) among many other reasons.
  • Secret Keeper: Some people do keep their friends or family members' secrets. Lawyers and priests are legally bound, in many places, to absolute confidentiality - anything you tell your lawyer or a priest/monk/similar is off limits to anyone else unless you choose to release the information. Spouses are also allowed to invoke this privilege at least in the US. Medical professionals including therapists can vary - their records can be accessed and subpoenaed easier than a lawyer's or priest's, for example, and if they themselves feel you are a threat (or sometimes, a drug user/drug seeker) they can act to inform law enforcement - but there is some level of confidentiality as long as you are not discussing anything related toward violence directed toward others or yourself, or the use/sale/possession/seeking of controlled or banned substances.
  • Secret Secret Keeper: Sometimes done by people trying to maintain a Transparent Closet for example, other times, done when the secret is an Old Shame or an insult to be brought up to the person.
  • Secret Test of Character: Sometimes this is done to judge trustworthiness in an employment situation, for example. It's not a very reliable method, at least when done with small-value items (e.g. the person might pick up the pen left on the desk thinking they're given free to all interviewees, or the unpaid intern might steal the occasional office supplies/take home the leftover coffee or food/pocket a dropped quarter from the floor but is otherwise highly trustworthy.)
  • Secular Hero: Belief in God or gods is not necessary for someone to save lives and/or property, as the many atheist or agnostic police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians and emergency medicine/trauma surgery doctors (among many other professions that protect life and property) will happily tell you.
  • Seen-It-All Suicide: Some have happened. Can also happen when the person who is at the top realizes everything is about to crumble out from under them and they are at the best moment of their life right then and there.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: It is arguable that there is nothing more realistic than this trope. Indeed, an argument over that would be the perfect example. Absolutely any conversation will turn into this if entered in the middle.
  • Selective Enforcement: It happens by any law enforcement agency ever. Sometimes, it's a good thing (if every petty law was enforced to its full extent at every possible moment in the most literal way, there would be no one who was not a criminal, which is actually why Zero Tolerance is such a bad idea), and other times not so much (when money or political influence allows people who should be arrested and prosecuted to get away with their crimes, while poorer or more stupid people are vacuumed up for doing far less and sentenced far more harshly to fill the jails, e.g. someone who shoplifts $50 worth of food or clothes is arrested and jailed, someone who steals five billion dollars is a bank CEO given a congratulatory pat on the back and a bailout)
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: There are many cases when it has happened. See the article.
  • Self Guarding Phlebotinum: Most of the worst nuclear sources that could be used to create a viable nuclear weapon but aren't already encased within one and even most of the radioactive sources that could create a "dirty bomb" or widespread serious contamination are so radioactive they would kill any terrorist or criminal who tried to make one or spread the contamination - meaning only the suicidal, who don't tend to be the most educated and capable scientists, would even try - and their lack of knowledge and skill would only hasten their deaths. It's argued that this is the reason why there hasn't been, to this day, a nuclear terror attack: the building of nuclear weapons or even nuclear dispersal devices is just too dangerous and no country that can make them is willing to sell them.
  • Self-Made Man: There are a few people who might qualify as such, but even most of them have had help (at least via privilege, e.g. being white and male and heterosexual in a society that values that, and often a lot more help than that).
  • Seme: Some gay and bisexual men are exclusive tops, and some of those are also dominant in the BDSM sense of the term, and someone falling into both groups (exclusive top, BDSM dominant) would technically make them this. That said, none of them would likely use this term to refer to themselves, as it is a construct of a form of fiction they would not read.
  • Senseless Violins: The 2008 Northern Illinois University shooter managed to bypass the campus security by packing a pair of shotguns inside a guitar case.
  • Serenade Your Lover: Some people have done this.
  • Serendipitous Symphony: There are musical pieces based on this, and the concept of "everything is an instrument" in Noise music and in some forms of electronic music takes it Up to Eleven.
  • Serial Romeo: Some people don't want to settle down with one person.
  • Serial Spouse: In places where divorces are easy to obtain (and in some where they aren't) these do exist.
  • Serious Business: Unsung rule of life, the universe and everything: if it exists, somebody out there is taking it VERY seriously.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: As noted in the entry, Williams Syndrome. Some forms of autism and Asperger's Syndrome will cause this as well.
  • Sex Changes Everything: For some couples. Not all.
  • Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll: A definite Truth in Television for some artists and musicians, and even justified slightly in that sometimes the use of mind-altering substances can be seen as necessary to access inspiration or work on a nigh-impossible schedule or the like, and that having consensual sex with lots of different people or with Friends with Benefits is very much an individual preference which some people might choose over a more stable or "normal" relationship, especially if their lifestyle (long tours, being a workaholic) would ensure the failure of a more traditional relationship.
  • Sex Is Evil: Believed by some religious people to be a necessary evil for procreation alone, or evil unless kept within very strict rules and bounds.
  • Sex Is Good: Believed by some of those same people for their specific type(s) of allowed sex. Believed by most people in general who aren't asexual (and by most asexual people who believe it is, it's just not for them).
  • Sex Is Interesting: At least in the minds of advertising executives, who will happily use the nebulous promise of it to sell anything.
  • Sexless Marriage: For a variety of reasons: Incompatible Orientation (or Asexuality) or simply falling out of love or interest in sex being some more common ones, but religion and long-term separation can also cause this.
  • Sex Slave: Unfortunately. If you suspect someone is one, there are often resources for human trafficking and it's a good idea to contact such a resource.
  • Sex Tourism: Exists on a spectrum of squick, from couples resorts, cruises, and other ventures to connect consenting adults, all the way to pedophiles seeking children overseas.
  • Sexual Extortion: One of the most common forms of sexual harassment and sexual harassment lawsuits.
  • Sexy Whatever Outfit: Rule34's SFW (or not as NSFW) version.
  • Shaking The Rump: Commonly done by women in urban communities, as they would name it "twerking".
  • Shaped Like What It Sells: A common advertising method in real life.
  • Share the Male Pain: It happens, similar to vomiting making others feel sick.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Has happened to some people.
  • Shipper on Deck: Very common in schools.
  • Shipping Goggles: As you know if you were ever in a large fandom with a lot of shippers, people have these.
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat: One of the more common causes of drama and Flame War.
  • Shirtless Scene: A lot of men go shirtless at some point or another. Often, in real life, more Fan Disservice than fanservice unless you happen to like lots of hair and fat.
  • Shoddy Knockoff Product: All the knockoffs of real products. Mostly from Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, or China (never Japan or Korea). During the Cold War, they came from Eastern Europe.
  • Shoot The Builder: Common practice in Nazi Germany, North Korea, and many other fascistic or otherwise restrictive regimes.
  • Short Cuts Make Long Delays: Oh, they DO. Especially if they contain things that can injure you or damage a vehicle or both, if the way is really obstructed and you have to turn back, if it places you somewhere your maps or GPS won't help you and you get lost...
  • Shotacon: In real life, this is a crime called child sexual abuse.
  • Shotgun Wedding: They have existed, and sometimes still do, though the "shotgun" in more modern times tends to be social pressure.
  • Showing Off The Perilous Power Source: Don't look directly at the sun, a solar eclipse, a nuclear explosion, or something being welded, and wear your ski goggles. A lesser degree of this with easy recovery (as an example of why you shouldn't) can be induced by staring at any light source (from a match to a lightbulb) for a few minutes. And don't stand too close to a steam engine that is discharging steam either!
  • Shrinking Violet: Shy people exist.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: A few have been delivered in real life. The example of Native Americans giving one to Nazi Germany in the real life section is probably the best example. Namely, if you are conducting a racially based genocide, trying to get a population that was and was even at the time still being victimized by one to support you is not the best of ideas unless you want to be very angrily cut off at the pass.
  • Shy Bladder: It's called paruresis, and people have been fired because of it when they couldn't pee for a drug test. And yes, before you ask, there have been lawsuits.
  • Sibling Rivalry: It's very common for siblings to quarrel.
  • Sibling Seniority Squabble: Common in royalty and feudal societies where being firstborn was often very important for inheritance reasons.
  • Sickbed Slaying: One of the most underreported and underinvestigated forms of murder when it takes place, along with other people who are easily written off to dying as a result of their lifestyle/other causes/suicide (the Disposable Sex Worker, drug users, the homeless, The Mentally Disturbed, prisoners...)
  • Side Effects Include...: A quite large amount of pharmaceutical advertising is like this, and you've likely seen one ad or more.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Any society that places a premium on property has had women who do this. An example would be the wives and daughters of ship captains in 19th Century New England.
  • Silly Rabbit, Cynicism Is for Losers!: This will be the kind of response people will use to reprove those who are negative and pessimistic about certain aspects of life.
  • Silly Reason for War: Quite a few feudal and medieval wars (and ancient wars) were for reasons that most people looking back today would finds silly or outright stupid and pointless.
  • Single-Biome Planet: Mars (desert), Jupiter (Cloud), Neptune (Cloud), the moons Europa and Enceladus (Ice) and Io (Volcano)
  • Single Mom Stripper: Usually due to economic reasons, those being that stripping is one of the few careers that doesn't require extensive experience, has somewhat flexible hours, and pays far more than welfare or child support in general.
  • Signs of Disrepair: As a look around Fail Blog and occasionally where you live can tell you.
  • Sink or Swim Mentor: Live fire training and chemical weapons training for military members, as well as the Navy SEAL and the SERE courses for elite military members in the US. For firefighters, training inside a real burning building.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Fuck, a lot of fuckers do this way too fucking much.
  • Skirt over Slacks: Sometimes required for modesty, other times done because the person really doesn't want to expose themselves accidentally.
  • Slave Mooks: Unfortunately so - conscription and drafting still happen in militaries throughout the world.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Some abusive relationships and unhealthy relationships are like this.
  • Sleeps with Everyone but You: Just because someone may sleep around, doesn't mean everyone is interesting or sexy to them.
  • Slippery Soap: Why many people prefer shower gels or other options to bar soap.
  • Slow Transformation: From infant to adult. Takes 17-18 to 20-21 years, depending on culture, region, and more.
  • Slut Shaming: Unfortunately, and became a trope because of its occurrence in reality.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Examples are too numerous and insulting to be listed, but we've all seen them.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Chess is actually a fairly difficult game to learn how to play correctly unless you have some degree of intelligence.
  • Smelly Skunk: Skunks stink.
  • Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter: This is why many people are atheists.
  • Smoking Hot Sex: Some smokers do tend to smoke after sex. If you're a smoker with external genitalia it's a good idea to wait until afterward - nicotine can cause impotence both in the short and long term because it causes constriction of blood flow.
  • Smoking Is Cool: To some, and that is part of why complete abolition of tobacco seems almost an impossible task despite the health benefits of cutting global smoking rates to zero. The Forbidden Fruit trope also ensures that too strong of efforts to portray it as uncool or to ban it entirely or make it illegal will unfortunately only make this trope stronger.
  • Smoldering Shoes: Explosions sometimes blow off shoes, and Moral Guardians and Squick usually ensure that the shoes with body parts still in them can't be shown in newscasts or in official news outlet images. Hence, cameramen and photographers look for images with the least gore as possible (or alternately, the most they can get past the radar, or both at the same time) and blown-off (or abandoned so someone could run faster) shoes match that standard.
  • Smug Snake: Adolf Hitler, Hideki Tojo, and the BTK Serial Killer among others. Very common with psychopaths, who tend to be extremely self-confident and extremely lacking in common sense.
  • Snipe Hunt: A very common form of hazing or practical joke is to send someone on a search for something nonexistent.
  • Snow Means Cold: It generally does. Averted by fake snow and trucked-in snow during spring or summer.
  • Snow Means Death: Homeless people and others caught out on cold, snowy nights (especially if they are underdressed) are at risk of hypothermia and death from it, as are, depending on how cold the temperatures are, people in unheated dwellings.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Some people are treated with less respect or assumed to be hired based on appearance if their appearance is incredibly beautiful. Also, some beautiful people who aren't necessarily interested in dating other perfectly beautiful people (e.g. a twink that finds fat bears attractive) are often limited to them, either due to the disbelief less than perfect people would have at being approached by them or the social stigma that comes from "trading down" to a person viewed as less desirable than oneself.
  • Solar-Powered Magnifying Glass: Unfortunately, for our six-legged friends.
  • Solid Gold Poop: Ambergris is whale vomit. It's also extremely valuable for use in perfumes. Guano. Not as valuable now as it used to be. For centuries, it was used to make saltpeter and phosphorous, which was used for explosives and gunpowder. Now, it's mostly used for fertilizer, and some of the world's best coffees owe their rich flavor to this particular fertilizer.
  • Solve the Soup Cans: Standardized testing are claimed by some to be the real life version of this.
  • Somebody Doesn't Love Raymond: Narcissists tend to live off of this. Unfortunately, that view can make people who are justly concerned with the opinions of others seem narcissistic when they want to be not sure they are universally loved, but sure that they are not universally or offensive.
  • Soul Brotha: A stereotype in media portrayals, but one embraced by some real black men (usually entertainers of various sorts), much like Camp Gay is embraced by some gay men.
  • Sorry Occifer: The reason why, if you are drunk or high, not talking to the police by stating your right to silence and need for a lawyer, and then shutting up (if you live somewhere where you have this right) is the best legal advice you can possibly ever follow. And you got it here free.
  • Spammer: Unwanted commercial or promotional messages, fraud, harassment with multiple unwanted messages, ad nauseum happens to any new method of communication once people figure out how to do it - and then it becomes a Lensman Arms Race between people wanting to spread tons of crap and people wanting to stop it or not recieve it. It happened with mail (junk mail), phones (telemarketers, various con artists, crank calls), and then reached e-mail, instant messages, text messages, and any other source it possibly could. If someone ever were to develop a form of cybernetic telepathy, it would be highly likely that within weeks, people would be getting overloaded with telepathic spam. The aggressive commercialization and exploitation of any available means of communication in real life is, in fact, what made the trope.
  • Speak Ill of the Dead: Some people do this, either out of inability to drop old grudges, the desire to avoid someone being rewritten as something better and holier etc than they were, or out of new information being revealed as a result of the death or an investigation or the like afterward.
  • Spikes Of Doom: Caltrops, which aren't in and of themselves that deadly but are used to blockade areas for air or infantry assault, so if you see them, you're likely not going to survive. Also, some people have made spike pit traps.
  • The Spiny: Sea urchins.
  • Spit Take: Yes, people often do this in reaction to a shocking image or piece of information.
  • Split Personality Merge: One of the recommended forms of therapy for real life dissociative identity disorder - to integrate the personalities into one.
  • Split Personality Takeover: Invoked by some high-demand religious and other organizations and abusive situations: a person is forced to dissociate via abuse and/or More Than Mind Control techniques, and they will become angrier, more judgemental, quicker to violent solutions, less capable of independent thought, and/or possibly even develop learned helplessness and timidity as well as or instead of those. The concept has a name of the "cult personality," though it isn't only so-called "cults" that can invoke it.
  • Spock Speak: Asperger's Syndrome and legalese (though usually not to this degree). Justified in the legalese case, when the document has to be airtight. Still funny, though.
  • Spoiled Brat: There are children like this. Some adults, too.
  • Spoiled Sweet: There are children and adults like this as well.
  • Spontaneous Human Combustion: HIGHLY debated whether the traditional variant actually happens or not (e.g. internal forces causing a human to burst into flame). More likely true is the "hidden flame" variant, with a small flame catching the fat of the body on fire and burning it quickly.
  • Spotlight Fallacy: A lot of people believe in it, which is why people are more afraid of terrorism than car accidents, or more afraid of nuclear accidents than of smoking cigarettes. Never mind you're far more likely to be killed by a distracted or drunk driver (which could even be yourself) than a terrorist, and far more likely to get cancer from smoking cigarettes or being around second-hand smoke than from Chernobyl and Fukushima combined unless you lived close to either.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: One of the biggest spotlight stealers ever is sauces and sugar. In cooking, dough is essentially the main character, but who cares about him? He's bland and tasteless on his own and his side characters of sauces and sugar are the reason why you're there in the first place.
  • Spot of Tea: VERY true for many Brits and Japanese both.
  • Spousal Privilege: One of the subcategories of Secret Keeper above - spouses do not, generally, have to testify against their spouse unless they choose to do so.
  • Springtime for Hitler: Because the harder you try to fail, the less likely you are to truly fail.
  • Stage Mom: See I Coulda Been a Contender.
  • Stag Party: Bachelor and bachelorette parties.
  • Stairs Are Faster: Sometimes, especially with six or under floors and a slow elevator/one that stops at each floor.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Erotomanic stalking is one of the main types of stalking.
  • Stalking Mission: Detective work involves a lot of this for both police detectives and private detectives. Probably even more for the latter, because their cases involve more of the things where stakeouts/tracking/etcetera are valid investigative tools.
  • Standing Between The Enemies: Police officers and peacekeeping forces sometimes do this, either metaphorically or even literally in the few times they don't just shoot everyone. Conflict mediators and negotiators of various sorts also try to do this by talking both sides down. It's also the point of having a workable legal system - lawyers and judges and juries handle conflicts as intermediaries.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: "Things just didn't work out."
  • Starfish Aliens: It is most likely that if non-Earth based life is ever discovered, it will be this: anything from bacteria to bugs to other life that bears no resemblance to humanity, because evolutionary conditions on non-Earthlike planets are different, and the conditions of other planets (atmospheres unbreathable to humans, temperatures too hot or cold) demand extremophile creatures - which humans really are not. Even given a perfectly Earth-like planet, there is no reason evolution would have to develop human or humanoid or ape-like creatures instead of reptiles or dolphins or cockroaches.
  • Starter Marriage: Some first marriages are this.
  • Start of Darkness: If you want to be really, really depressed, realize just how many of these are happening in abusive homes alone, every single day.
  • State Sec: The NKVD/KGB and the Stasi on the left, the kempetai and Nazi informants on the right. Among many, many, MANY others.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: Happens quite a lot in various environments (such as militaries and politics) where jargon and complicated plans tend to rule the day. People who do this often don't tend to last very long in such environments because they are seen as "too idealistic" or not playing the game properly.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Most female models and supermodels are expected to be tall as well as very thin.
  • Status Quo Is God: To some people in real life,
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Unfortunately, pretty much everywhere until the mid to late 20th century.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: It happens when you're distracted and don't notice when someone is entering or leaving the room.
  • Stepford Smiler: There are entire cultural settings where this is a requirement, as anyone who's seen demands for "bubbly, cheerful" people will know.
  • Stepford Suburbia: There are places like this in real life, but the more common are tourist locations, because they have to keep up good press far more than suburbs.
  • Stern Teacher: Many of them exist.
  • Steven Ulysses Perhero: There have been and are people like this. One of the most famous was Thomas Crapper, co-inventor of the toilet.
  • Sticky Fingers: Some thieves are like this - they steal for reasons other than major profit.
  • Stone Wall: A military tactic used if defenses are better than anything else. Also common in sports if the defense is better than the offense.
  • Stone Soup: Taxes. Volunteering. There are many examples. The opposite of Too Many Cooks Spoil the Soup.
  • "Stop Having Fun" Guys: They exist in real life as well.
  • Stop Helping Me!: Backseat drivers and GPS often cause more problems for drivers. Some charity efforts that actually hurt or get in the way of helping. Autocorrect and autocomplete. And as of recently, people who like speaking for minority groups but often end up causing more trouble than help.
  • Story Reset: Writers can and often will retcon just a few events rather than an entire story. In nonfictional media, corrections are this: correcting false or misleading information already published, in the hopes the correction will be read (or is at least there to be pointed out)
  • Stout Strength: Incredibly strong men often look more rotund than body-building. Just watch the weightlifting portion of the Olympics. Or sumo wrestling.
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land: Step 1: Go abroad for work/study/etc. Step 2: Stay there a couple of years, if not months. Step 3: Go back home and try to fit back in.
  • Straw Feminist: They exist in Real Life, but they do not represent all feminists.
  • Strawman Has a Point: Yes, even people who are stereotypically "strawmen" can have legitimate points. For example, the Straw Feminist may consider pornography or the Male Gaze "rape" - but that doesn't make her opposition to actual rape any less invalid or more deserving of condemnation. Or the Straw Vegan might view owning animals as animal abuse but that does not make his/her arguments against circus elephants less meaningful.
  • Straw Nihilist: Often overlaps with Emo Teen.
  • Straying Baby: Babies crawl, or toddle, long before they learn any sense.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Sometimes family members do look exactly alike. Obviously, twins and other multiples qualify.
  • Student and Master Team: Sometimes people do train apprentices or new workers to replace them. Bands also provide some great examples of this: one of the fastest ways to improve your skill as a musician is to get into a band or be a roadie for a band where you are directly working with the person who is very, very skilled at your instrument or role if he or she is willing to teach you.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: If there's hypergolics around, almost anything they are accidentally on or in can become explosive, even the ground itself. A good example of this is the Pepcon Disaster where hypergolic rocket fuel managed to create a huge chain reaction of Stuff Blowing Up.
  • Stuffed into a Locker: Happened back when lockers could contain people.
  • Stuffy Old Songs About the Buttocks: They exist because the human posterior is, for a lot of people in a lot of cultures, a very sexual sight or image - and because as many people have discovered in various ways, the anorectal-perineal area has quite a lot of very sensitive nerve endings. Obviously, with the role the region has in human sexuality (even if it's denied) it will make its way into music about said sexuality.
  • Stupid Scientist: Although in real life, the stupidity is often the result of working towards a predetermined result desired by a patron for fiscal or political reasons.
  • Stylistic Suck: People do this as a form of parody.
  • Stylish Protection Gear: Silk has properties that allow for diminished arrow penetration (there would still be non-lethal wounds). It was used by Mongol warriors and samurai. It's also fireproof.
  • Straight Gay: Contrary to historical portrayals, most gay people appear and act just like most straight people.
  • Street Urchin: One of the most serious social problems everywhere in the world.
  • Subculture of the Week: News programs tend to do this very often, and they were the first to create the trope.
  • Succession Crisis: Plenty of historical examples. There was even a whole war called "The War of Austrian Succession".
  • Suckiness Is Painful: There are some musical notes, bad color/pattern combinations, and other things that literally can cause people to feel dizzy or nauseous or, in the case of sound, actual pain.
  • Sugar and Ice Personality: There are people like this. Usually they are more guarded with strangers and more warm to people they know well, though the reverse is true sometimes in people with abusive families or with friends that would happily betray them - being more guarded with these "familiar" people and being more open with people who don't seem to be threatening.
  • Suddenly Always Knew That: Since not everyone always lets you know everything they know.
  • Suicide Attack: Kamikaze and suicide bombers.
  • Suicide by Cop: Both intentional and accidental types exist, and happen almost every day.
  • Suicide Dare: Unfortunately very common for people to tell this to other people who are suffering.
  • Suicide Is Shameful: Many cultures have strongly stigmatized suicide, viewing it as an act of selfishness, cowardice, or, according to certain religious sects, a mortal sin against God. Not only is it harshly discouraged, but it is also illegalized, although the criminalization of it in western societies had declined.
  • Super Fly Reflexes: Some people have swatted flies in midair. It's easier with moths and mosquitoes, though, as they're slower - most people can swat one of them in midair.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: Humans with their persistence hunting during the majority of the stone age.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: You've said it and you know it.
  • Surprise Creepy: Life is full of this. Even things you didn't think were creepy once can later take on that tone (e.g. one of the neighbors who had the house every kid in the neighborhood hung out at was arrested, years later, for child sexual abuse)
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Everyone who's ever had a day job can attest to this. Or been in Public High School.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: Many many MANY bands and artists (even some of the hardest Hard Rock / Heavy Metal bands, and some of the most hardcore badass image rappers among others) will have one of these. It often tends to overlap with Grief Song or Silly Love Songs.
  • Survivor Guilt: In all of its forms including "I survived this accident/disaster and my family/friend didn't," "We did the same things, why was I the lucky one to live?" and "Why wasn't I there to save him/why couldn't I have brought him here sooner?" one of the most common sources of grief and suffering in the world. One so bad that people have been Driven to Suicide by it.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Sometimes used intentionally when someone wants to convey dominance ("Yeah I did it, and what are you going to do about it, worm?"), or unintentionally when someone reveals details or an act that wasn't even being discussed or mentioned.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Joan of Arc, Mulan (the REAL one).
  • Swiss Cheese Security: Because not all people and not all buildings can afford the very best of security and maintaining the highest level of security practices is often unnecessarily paranoid and counterproductive for some industries. For example, in many lower end retail contexts such as groceries and big-box stores, it's far cheaper to have a certain level of shoplifting than it is to implement security so intense that it costs tons of money for guards and cameras and taking each case to court and the like, not to mention the angry non-shoplifter customers when they get patted down on leaving the store or followed everywhere in it.
  • Sycophantic Servant: Many people acting like this can be found in many places, and not just serving bad people.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: Again, no specific real life examples, but some murderers have fallen into this. Generally, it tends to be people who for some reason or another were not aware of the gravity of their act (e.g. they were children or teens and didn't know better/didn't have the impulse control they later developed, they were manipulated by a high-demand organization or an abuser giving them orders, they were/are mentally ill) or who were aware of the gravity of their act but felt as if they had no other choice (e.g. abused spouses, borderline self-defense cases, law enforcement officers). It also tends to be very subjective: for example, police officers will see the police officer who killed in the line of duty as this, while others will just call it Police Brutality, and some people will see children who are murderers as needing help and treatment, while others will see them as proof that they are already beyond the Moral Event Horizon.
  • Tail Slap: Even horses can makes use of it to an extent. With elephants, it can be fatal.
  • Take a Third Option: Because there is almost always one, including inaction itself, walking away from the situation, asking for advice, and so on - and sometimes taking the third option even if it doesn't seem workable or reasonable is the best idea.
  • Take Over the World: Cliched now, but Adolf Hitler did want to do this via Lebensraum, and Emperor Hirohito and Hideki Tojo wanted to take over half of it via "The Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere," and technically, for much of the 20th century, the US and the Soviet Union actually accomplished it halfway for each. After the Soviet Union collapsed, the US actually did it for the most part (in a cultural and political and war-threatening sense) for a while - and part of one of the biggest debates in the world right now is if that was for good or ill, and if other nations gaining power again should be seen as a threat to the US... or simply as a legitimate balance of power that the world hasn't had.
  • Take That: There are a LOT of these in real life, as insulting people is a common thing.
  • Take Up My Sword: Has happened, especially in antiquity and feudal times when war was waged by families.
  • Taking the Bullet: Liviu Lebrescu, the professor who blocked the door during the Virginia Tech shooting, and principal Dawn Hochsprung at the Sandy Hook massacre - among many, many others who intentionally got in the way of people trying to shoot others in order to stop them or delay them.
  • Taking You with Me: Kamikaze from World War II and some terrorists, among many, many other suicide attackers. Stalkers and domestic abusers also can and will engage in this - which is why they are so dangerous.
  • Take This Job And Shove It: The JetBlue flight attendant incident is a very recent example.
  • Talking Down the Suicidal: Something many of us are quite capable of doing, and in some cases have done. Suicide prevention isn't solely for the professionals - in fact, many more suicides have been prevented with a friend as the "first responder" rather than a therapist or especially a police officer, because people are more inclined to listen to and believe their friends even in bad states (or at least to not want to cause them pain), and because while therapists and police officers can force people to get treatment against their will, forced treatment often doesn't do anywhere near as good in the long term as truly voluntary seeking of help.
  • Talking in Your Dreams: Relatively common, and more so if the sleep is induced by anesthetics/drugs. Which is why it's a good idea to make sure no one with recording devices around if you're in such a state, if possible.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: Civil disobedience, diplomacy, hostage negotiation and other forms of negotiation, mediation, and other ways of resolving problems, even with violent or threatening people, somewhat nonviolently.
  • Talking Your Way Out: Negotiators and spies are trained to do this.
  • Tampon Run: If you've ever lived with a menstruating lady (or have been one yourself) you've likely had to go get pads or tampons.
  • Tangled Family Tree: Anything from adoptions and affairs to incest or polygamy can cause this, as well as lack of information.
  • Tank Goodness: World War II, the last war in which tanks actually were a decisive battle weapon. The Soviet military until the The Great Politics Mess-Up.
  • Tanks for Nothing: Post The Nineties warfare, especially asymmetrical or guerilla or terrorist warfare - tanks are too big to maneuver in most urban areas, expensive consumers of scarce fuel, ineffective against suicidal attackers, and serve as big targets that can easily be compromised either by suicidal attackers on the ground or by air assault.
  • Tantrum Throwing: Angry or overworked parents and some children are prone to doing this.
  • A Taste of the Lash: Flogging was a commonly used punishment in many real-world cultures.
  • Taught by Experience: You know that your mistakes have left a mark on you, probably a scar.
  • Tautological Templar: They exist, and it's often an argument for My Country, Right or Wrong.
  • Tears of Remorse: People do grieve their own wrongs.
  • Technical Virgin: It happens, ironically enough, often due to abstinence-only education.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Some teens can be amoral and scary. Not all are, though.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Because proximity often does not mean friendship.
  • Televisually Transmitted Disease: Strangely, many of the miraculous recoveries you see in medical dramas actually have happened.
  • Thanatos Gambit: Suicide attackers, again. People who want to frame others as responsible for their deaths.
  • Thank Your Prey: Happens in some cultures and religions.
  • That Poor Car: Disasters will cause this.
  • The Password Is Always Swordfish: One of the most common passwords is... "password" or "password1" (since now most registrars require letters and numbers). The most common varies in length but is some form of ascending number sequence — i.e., "12345."
  • There Are No Therapists: Teen suicide rates are much higher than they should be, but it's more because they don't WANT to see a therapist for fear of rejection. Also because since they think with their amygdalas, which is the emotional part of their brain, not the logical part.
    • Bad experiences with therapy can lead people to never seek help again, even when it is urgently and severely needed. A bad therapist can be even worse than no therapist, for this reason.
  • The Glomp: Some people hug their friends like this.
  • The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: There are quite a few.
  • Theme Naming: The Emperor Constantine's children. The Duggars' children all have names that start with J. Multiples (twins, triplets, etc) frequently get theme named. Retired heavyweight boxing champion/electric-grill pitchman George Foreman has named all of his children of both sexes "George".
  • This Is Not a Drill: Because of a phenomenon called "warning fatigue," sometimes it's very necessary to tell people that this alarm is for real and obeying it is important.
  • Those Two Guys: Those Two Guys are in every high school, workplace, band... anywhere one doesn't remember people by name.
  • Time Capsule: More common in the past. Sometimes they last, other times they... don't. Or their contents are incomprehensible.
  • Tongue on the Flagpole: Yes, it does work. Check youtube if you don't believe it. Or, better yet, try it yourself! Be sure to carry some hot water with you, though.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Everyone has met them at some point. Rad Girls. (NSFW)
  • Too Many Cooks Spoil the Soup: The opposite of Stone Soup.
  • Too Much Information: Eventually, you will hear something or see something you wish you could erase from ever having been aware of.
  • Tough Love: Parents often use this to their children or friends as a means to keep them on the right path to life.
  • The Tourney: While it tends to stick to jousting, there were historical eras when that was the commonest form of fighting in tourneys.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: As many juvenile delinquents can attest to, and why people who are trying to stay abstinent from alcohol or drugs are often advised to no longer spend time with those who actively use the substance.
  • Translation Punctuation: English uses an exclamation point to represent sounds from other languages for which English has no equivalent. An example would be the clicks used in the Bushmen tongue.
  • Transparent Closet: Sometimes those of who are LGBT are the last to know for real. Although it can also be that there has never really been a demand to put up a "real closet" in the first place.
  • Trash of the Titans: As you can see in this site, and any episode of Hoarders or Clean House or similar shows. It's called "hoarding" or "Collyer Brothers Syndrome."
  • Trigger: Almost everyone has them in some form. Some far, far more distressing than others. See it's Useful Notes page for details.
  • Trigger Happy: The reason a lot of shootings (whether by police or civilians) happen. Especially if one feels as if one is in mortal danger, it is an instinct borne of paranoia that can be very difficult to override.
  • Troll: An undeniable Truth In New Media. If you spend any amount of time on the internet, you will see them, and you will likely interact with some even if it's just trying to banhammer them or keep them out - or you may be one yourself.
  • True Art Is Angsty: Angst tends to make art be seen as "more serious." Oscar Bait is usually angsty.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: This is one of those annoying ones that reinforces itself.
  • Truth in Television: Sometimes, tv does a good job of portraying reality.
  • Trying to Catch Me Fighting Dirty: Street fighting, capoeira, and some forms of "no holds barred" fighting rely on dirty tricks.
    • On the other hand, knowing and calling out dirty tricks in formal dueling/fighting styles with no tolerance for them often wins the fight for the person who called out the dirty trick.
  • Tsundere: The most common type is cats, they pretend to not need you or care for you, but in actuality they do love you.
  • TV Tropes Will Ruin Your Life: You will go on a wiki walk sooner or later. It will last longer than you expect.
    • Chances are, you are on a Wiki Walk RIGHT NOW.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Note: Being funny and unique will not get you chicks... until you turn 21. Money and influence also helps.
  • Ultimate Job Security: Having a relative at the company will make your coworkers hate you, but at least you'll never be fired.
    • Tenure for education professionals is very close to this - it is very hard for a tenured educator to get fired.
    • If your bank is "too big to fail" and you are "too big to jail," your work in the financial industry is this.
    • Police unions are generally relatively strong. This means that firing police officers or demoting them aside from being Kicked Upstairs is often highly difficult, even for officers caught in Police Brutality or in being absolutely useless or corrupt.
  • The Unapologetic: It's unfortunately common of some people to never apologize or even feel sorry for their misdeeds, either due to pride, guilt, embarrassment, or because they enjoy it.
  • Undisclosed Funds: Swiss bank accounts. Also, talking about money was once viewed as crass, so people used these methods to do so.
  • The Unpronounceable: Indians working in call centers with American customers typically use adopted "American" names. It's also very common for immigrants to have an Americanized nickname, especially if they're from the Middle East or Asia. This is also associated with Eastern European consonant clusters, such as "Bydgoszcz." And good luck trying to say something if you don't know the pronunciation rules of the language.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, and any socialite. Buddha was also one of such before leaving his castle.
  • United We Chant: Can happen often in sports arenas or anywhere many people gather; Barack Obama's US presidential run was littered with "yes we can!" and sports arenas often get "U!S!A!" or chant a player/team name.
  • Unsportsmanlike Gloating: TD dances.
  • Urban Segregation: The Independencia Avenue in Guadalajara, Mexico divides the city in two: the West side is the rich side, home to all the trendy malls, while the East side is the poor side, filled with gritty factories and impoverished ghettos.
  • Used To Be More Social: Some people who were mostly extroverted and sociable often become less so, especially if they're focusing on their own careers or are going through difficult times in their personal lives. This can be common with a group of friends asking the person why they haven't answered the phone for a couple of months or so.
  • Useful Notes: Useful because they're true.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: Stalin, Mao, Robespierre, Pol Pot...

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