Follow TV Tropes


Genre Savvy / Live-Action TV

Go To

  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Comes up pretty often, with agents lampshading the Genre Blindness of their enemies or fellow agents. Most notable was probably when Radcliffe's robot went crazy and tried to take over the base (actually he had programmed her to seem crazy so he could get something without it being suspicious, though she later went crazy for real).
    Yo-Yo: Someone needs to make Radcliffe watch all the Terminator movies.
    Mack: ...even Salvation?
    Yo-Yo: He brought this onto himself.
  • Boy Meets World:
    • In "And Then There Was Shawn", while the kids are in detention, and things begin looking terrifying, we learn that Shawn is very Genre Savvy when it comes to Horror movies, quickly pointing out the dangers of splitting up and the fact that virgins never die.
    • In"A Long Walk to Pittsburgh", Cory is upset that Topanga is moving to Pittsburgh and wonders how their relationship will be affected. Shawn tells Cory he's worrying for nothing as he's seen this plot several times on sitcoms and the episode always ends with the character not moving after all. It's Subverted at the very end, when Topanga says goodbye and rides off in the moving van. Shawn is shocked that the van didn't turn around at the last second and asks "what kind of TV show is this?" Then its Double Subverted because Shawn didn't realize that the characters were actually in a Multi-Part Episode and that meant Topanga wouldn't come back until the end of the second part (which she does).
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer Note Buffy's staking of Dracula after he attempts to regenerate — "You think I don't watch your movies? You always come back."
    • In the Musical Episode, Anya is looking forward for someone to sing a "breakaway pop hit" and is the most aware of the genre conventions.
  • Castle: Richard Castle is amazingly genre savvy, being a mystery novelist in a Police Procedural, and uses this to help the actual police. His partner pokes fun at this, but it works.
    • When the team are exploring a graveyard at night, Ryan and Esposito invoke this.
      Ryan: You know, if this was a horror movie, we'd be the first to die.
      Esposito: Please, we're trained police with rifles.
      Ryan: Cocky black guy. You definitely die first.
    • Although when Castle tries the same on Beckett...
      Castle: You know, if this was a horror movie...
      Beckett: Shut up, Castle.
  • Community: Abed is teased at having Medium Awareness of being in a sitcom, but this is explained in-story as him being autistic and needing to relate all social interactions to something he's familiar with. However, because he actually is in a sitcom, almost all of his predictions and insights gleaned from television turn out to be true.
    • Deconstructed in a horror story he tells in one episode, wherein the characters consciously avoid all the typical examples of Genre Blindness common to slasher movies... with the end result being a rather boring tale wherein they simply stand back-to-back in a defensible part of the room armed with knives not dropping their guard for a moment, and nothing remotely interesting happens. Turns out Genre Savvy doesn't necessarily make for a good story.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Rise of the Cybermen": Mickey instantly realizes the TARDIS has landed in a parallel universe because he's seen them in comic books and films.
  • "The Pilot": The Doctor tries to trick Bill into standing still so he can wipe her memory. She doesn't buy it for a second.
    Bill: The problem with you is you think nobody's ever seen a movie before! I know what a mind-wipe looks like!
  • The Flash (2014): Barry and Kara — not for the superhero genre, but for musicals. Both are big fans of theater, so when they're trapped in a fictional musical and have to get to the end, not only do they brainstorm what would make the plot move forward, they also reference other shows along the way, and take advantage of the conventions of the genre.
    Kara: [recognizing that the plot expects her and Barry to do a song and dance number] Do you happen to have anything original?
    Musical!Winn: As a matter of fact, I've been working on something all day.
    Barry: Wow. Things really are easier in musicals.
  • Grimm: Monroe seems to be the most genre-savvy.
    Monroe: This is so the part of the horror movie where the sidekick gets it.
  • Heroes:
    • Hiro Nakamura. "You're telling us your plan? What kind of overconfident nemesis are you?" Though not Genre Savvy enough to just listen to the plan. Given that he's read lots of superhero comics...
  • Parodied in Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger with Nobuo Akagi: For how aware he is of all the rules of the Tv show he's in and Super Sentai in general, you would think he would have figured out he was in a Tv show It's because of this he does eventually figure it out.
  • In the episode of How I Met Your Mother where Barney is stumbling blind drunk towards two barflies, one turns to the other and wonders if they are in a zombie movie.
  • JAG: Last season addition Lieutenant Catherine Graves is a fan of crime and mystery novels. Even though she is not a lawyer, being savvy of those genres turns out to be quite useful on several occasions.
  • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: The setting is based on a variety of video games, and Emu and Nico's knowledge of gaming puts them ahead of the others. Emu in particular is always prepared for any Unexpected Gameplay Change, rolling with the changes and adapting to new methods of play while his coworkers struggle. When an opponent attacks with a rhythm game pattern, Emu dances along with it, no selling the attack while a confused Hiiro takes damage. When they're beating on Burgermon, Emu saves the day by cooking burgers as that's the kind of game Burgermon was made to represent.
  • The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: On the 11/07/16 show, Don Cheadle answered that he wouldn't want to take a ride on Elon Musk's just announced Interplanetary Transport System and be the first black guy on Mars, "because then I'd be the first to go." On the other hand, he was the sole survivor of an expedition to the planet in Mission to Mars.
  • In an episode of Legends of Tomorrow, when Jax gives young Martin Stein a letter and instructs him to read it in 25 years, Martin recognizes it as a plot point from Back to the Future (he saw it, but didn't like it).
  • Lost: Some (but not all) of the characters are Genre Savvy. Boone suspects he is a Red Shirt. Hurley and Charlie often question the wisdom of traipsing into a monster-inhabited jungle.
    • On an episode, as Hurley and Charlie bury Ethan, Hurley says that he sees the situation ending badly, with Ethan becoming a zombie and chasing him and Charlie.
    • In season 5, after (most of) the Oceanic Six end up back on the Island in 1977, Hurley hilariously attempts genre-savviness concerning time travel. However, it seems that the entirety of his knowledge on the subject comes from Back to the Future, and he has, let's say, a lot of trouble grasping the show's more realistic implications, much to Miles' exasperation.
    • In season 6, he manages to describe things easily to Jack saying Jacob's appearing to him like Obi Wan Kenobi
  • The Middleman: The Middleman himself and his Side Kick Wendy are both Genre Savvy, as is potential Love Interest Tyler. Their knowledge of comic book tropes is part and parcel of the job they do.
  • Moonlighting: The whole reason for Maddy and David not to continue their relationship was because they knew they were in a TV show that depended on the Unresolved Sexual Tension of the two leads.
  • NCIS:
    Ziva: Tony, your dying words would be "I've seen this film."
    • "Missing" gives us this gem:
      Bomb instructor: Way to go, MacGyver! If that bomb were real, we'd be washing you off the streets of Baghdad right now! Never assume that a bomb timer is accurate! Bad guys watch movies, too.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • Being in a town full of amnesiac storybook characters, and armed with a book of fairy tales allows Henry to augment his already considerable Guile Hero skills. Between this and the Living Lie Detector ability he inherited from his mother, his Genre Savvy borders on superhuman.
    • Henry, who at one point tells Emma that she can't eat the apple turnover that Regina (The Evil Queen) gave her because apples=poison. Mr. Gold (Rumplestiltskin) seems to have at least a bit of this, in stark contrast to Regina's Genre Blindness. (For example, while she is certain that giving the apple to Emma will both get rid of her and strengthen the Curse, Gold is clearly doubtful. He was right.)
    • In the midseason finale of the third season, Gold/Rumplestiltskin says in response to his father's pleads for him to remove the dagger so they can have a happy ending, "Ah, but I'm a villain, and villains don't get happy endings."
      • Regina repeats this at the end of the episode. For the time being, it appears they were both right.
  • Orphan Black: Streetwise con-artist clone Sarah Manning has a Genre Savvy moment when she first meets corporate "ProClone" Rachel Duncan and quips "Is this the part when 20 more of you robot bitches walk in for effect?"
  • Psych: In one episode, the characters realize they're surrounded by slasher movie cliches but then even more Genre Savvy Shawn figures out all the cliches are a set up, but then people do start dying.
  • Scream Queens (2015)
    • Grace grew up watching slasher films with her father so she knows the typical twists and turns, but she turns out to be too genre savvy because she keeps trying to connect the Bathtub Baby to the murders which is a correct course of action but she accidentally makes herself a suspect. She also briefly distrusts Pete because he's the school's mascot so owns a Red Devil costume, the disguise used by the killer. She was right, but Pete wasn't the Big Bad. She is smart enough to try and convince Zayday that they'll be safer if they quit Kappa though.
    • Wes is a fan of horror movies, so he ends up trying to teach his Film Studies class horror tropes as a subtle way of helping them survive.
  • Shadowhunters:
    • In "The Descent Into Hell Isn't Easy", Simon invokes this when the group want to leave him outside before storming an enemy lair.
      Simon: I've seen every horror movie ever made and the funny best friend who gets left behind... Dead man.
      Jace: You're not that funny.
    • And in "Moo Shu To Go", when he's told to start a fire as a distraction.
      Simon: That never works! Haven't you seen an action movie?
  • Smallville: Subverted Trope in one episode. (A subversion, but not Wrong Genre Savvy. The character was right about what was going to happen, but still didn't realize just how dangerous it was.) A meteor crashes near two kids playing basketball. One of them goes to look in the miniature crater, but his friend warns him not to. "Hey man, don't you watch any movies?" The guy who looked in the crater gets possessed by the alien inside it and casually kills his friend. By the end of the episode, he's free of the alien's control and back to normal, but his friend is still dead.
  • The Stargate-verse has as its basic premise modern day humans traveling via wormhole to other planets; and those humans have seen all the movies you'd expect them to.
    • Stargate SG-1: Jack O'Neill says when dealing with an asteroid heading towards Earth "I've seen this movie… It hits Paris." It turns out to be headed for a North Atlantic splashdown, which is another movie.
    • Stargate Atlantis:
      • When trapped in a room with a pregnant woman, Sheppard informs her that she's probably going to go into labor because that's what always happens in movies. Fortunately, it's subverted, which is good since she was only in her second trimester.
      • McKay is in particular a Star Trek fan. He even says that Dr. Beckett is their Dr. McCoy, due to his views on Stargate travel being similar to McCoy's view on transporters. After an alien woman falls in love with Lt. Col. Sheppard, he exclaims "Oh God, he is Kirk!"
    • Stargate Universe: Eli Wallace is the most significant inheritor of the trope, in large part due to his enthusiasm for science fiction. He compares an ice planet to Hoth, and in Air, Part 3 warns the expedition party that splitting up is a very bad idea.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • Sisko, chasing the traitor Eddington, realizes that Eddington sees himself as a noble hero straight out of fiction. Sisko then arranges things, by intentionally playing the bad guy, so that Eddington's only option is to sacrifice his freedom in order to save innocent people.
    • Bashir enjoys acting out spy thrillers on the holosuite, where he knows the genre tropes inside and out and actual spy Garak knows nothing, which is why Bashir can solve the program and Garak can't.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • In the episode "A Fistful of Datas", Deanna Troi has read enough Westerns to know that the villain will try double-crossing Worf during the prisoner exchange.
    • The episode "Elementary, My Dear Data" has its major conflict come up because of Data, in the role of Sherlock Holmes in a holodeck story, veering past Genre Savvy straight into cutting straight to the ending by telling the first policeman he sees who the villain is and the crime because he already knew the story without doing any sleuthing; the resultant discussion over how Data could "enjoy" the exercise leads to the self-inflicted, ship-endangering mishap of the week.
  • Supernatural: In the Season 1 episode, "Asylum," Sam and Dean investigate a haunted, abandoned mental hospital. They find a teenage couple wandering around inside, just for kicks. Dean gives the girl, Kat, this piece of advice:
    Dean: You watch a lot of horror movies, right?
    Kat: Yeah, so?
    Dean: So next time you hear a place is haunted, don't go in.
  • In the famous The Twilight Zone episode "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street", Claude Akins' character recognizes the neighborhood is in a Crucible-esque story. He tells his friends and neighbors that if they keep going the way they're going, they'll end up accusing each other of being aliens in a paranoid fit. The Twilight Zone being The Twilight Zone, no one listens.


Example of: