Part 1 of the Laconical List of Subtle Trope Distinctions. Items are sorted alphabetically by whichever trope is alphabetically first; if you're looking for a specific one, use the "Find" or "Search" function of your Web browser.
Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal vs Barefoot Cartoon Animal vs Fully Dressed Cartoon Animal vs Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal:
- Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal: Just wears the hat/gloves/scarf etc.
- Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Dresses fully, but Does Not Like Shoes.
- Fully Dressed Cartoon Animal: Wears full outfit, shoes included.
- Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Shirt or trousers. Not both.
- Accidental Aesop: Unintended positive moral.
- Alternate Aesop Interpretation: Differing opinions on the intended moral.
- Warp That Aesop: Drawing absurd conclusions.
- Accidental Hero: Known as a hero, but didn't do anything.
- Badass Unintentional: Did something awesome, but was just intending to pass through.
- Miles Gloriosus: Intentionally stokes false heroic reputation.
Accidental Innuendo vs. Innocent Innuendo vs. Does This Remind You of Anything? vs. That Came Out Wrong vs. Heh Heh, You Said "X":
- Did something naughty just happen?
- Accidental Innuendo: No, get your mind out of the gutter.
- Innocent Innuendo: No, but the writer made it sound like it before switching.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: No, but the writer made it sound like it did.
- That Came Out Wrong: No, but one of the characters accidentally made it sound like it did.
- Heh Heh, You Said "X": Possibly, but someone is joking as if you did.
- Alice shot Bob, but she...
- Who liked this work - critics or fans?
- The Hero is missing from the big battle because he's...
- The opening is full of action...
- Actor/Role Confusion: Characters mistake an actor for their famous role.
- I Am Not Spock: Real actors that don't like being mistaken for their famous characters.
- Role Association: Comparing story plots that have shared actors.
- 'They're not the supernatural monster you think they are...'
- The price you pay to buy a useful item...
- Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Quadruples every time you reach a new area.
- Karl Marx Hates Your Guts: Is always the same everywhere, and often less than you get by selling it, meaning you just lugged 100 of them across the continent for nothing.
- No Hero Discount: Is the same price paid by people who didn't just save the shopkeeper from being monster food.
Adam Westing vs. As Himself vs. Autobiographical Role vs. Celebrity Star vs. Character as Himself vs. The Danza vs. Special Guest:
- Bob the Actor is playing...
- Adam Westing: A Flanderized version of himself.
- As Himself: Himself, a main character.
- Autobiographical Role: Himself in the non-fiction story of Bob's life (Bob is not usually a professional actor).
- Character as Himself: His famous character, Fred, and is listed in the credits as Fred, not Bob.
- The Danza: A fictional character named Bob, that is not Bob the Actor.
- Special Guest: Himself for a quick shock or joke.
- Celebrity Star: Bob completely takes over the episode.
- It was good, now it sucks because they...
- Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: Changing some details of a work leaves out a Plot Point.
- Dub-Induced Plot Hole: The translation leaves out a Plot Point.
- Inconsistent Dub: The translation changes a detail, then keeps it unvaried or changes it in a different way.
- A place where the action is. The heroes are...
- Just because you're a villain, it doesn't mean you can't be...
- Bob is badass...
- The AI...
- Airborne Aircraft Carrier: A big aircraft that carries several or many smaller aircraft.
- The Battlestar: An Airborne Aircraft Carrier/Battleship hybrid, often IN SPACE.
- The Mothership: A super-carrier capable of lugging several Battlestars around.
Alas, Poor Villain vs. Cry for the Devil vs. Monster Sob Story vs. Sympathy for the Devil vs. Tortured Monster:
- Alas, Poor Villain: The villain's death scene evokes sympathy from the audience.
- Cry for the Devil: The villain's life/backstory evokes sympathy from the audience.
- Monster Sob Story: Villain gets a moment where their sympathetic attributes and/or hopelessness are revealed.
- Sympathy for the Devil: The villain's life/backstory evokes sympathy from their opposing characters.
- Tortured Monster: Unnatural creature living a painful existence.
The Alcatraz vs. Cardboard Prison vs."Inescapable" Prison Easily Escaped vs. Gilded Cage vs. Implicit Prison vs. Luxury Prison Suite vs. Might as Well Not Be in Prison at All vs. Play-Along Prisoner
- A character is imprisoned...
- The Alcatraz: In a high-security facility that will take maximum effort and luck to get out of.
- Cardboard Prison: And they can break out with minimal effort.
- "Inescapable" Prison Easily Escaped: And they break out easily, because they are The Hero. Nobody else can do it.
- Gilded Cage: In a five-star hotel and the villain is paying the bill.
- Implicit Prison: In a place not originally designed to be a prison. Comfort is optional.
- Luxury Prison Suite: So they arrange for the nicest stay possible by bribing the guards.
- Might as Well Not Be in Prison at All: But theres still hundreds of their loyal minions free on the outside.
- Play-Along Prisoner: But they could break out whenever they wish; they're just waiting "for the right time".
- The heroes are restricted from...
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Rude or rebellious characters get love for it in-universe.
- Evil Is Sexy: Evil characters that look attractive to the audience.
- Monster Fangirl: Character loves villain in an unhealthy manner in their own right.
All Myths Are True vs. Fantasy Kitchen Sink vs. Crossover Cosmology vs. The Legend of Chekhov vs. World of Weirdness:
- All Myths Are True: Anything the character has ever heard of is real.
- Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Anything the audience has ever heard of is real.
- Crossover Cosmology: ...but aren't many of those beliefs mutually contradictory?
- The Legend of Chekhov: Fairy tales and myths eventually turn out to be real.
- World of Weirdness: It is real in another reality.
- All There in the Manual: The manual contains important or illuminating plot details.
- Read the Freaking Manual: The manual tells you how to do what you're failing at doing.
All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game" vs. First-Episode Twist vs. It Was His Sled vs. Late-Arrival Spoiler:
- The twist is remembered...
Allegedly Free Game vs. Bribing Your Way to Victory vs. Real Money Trade vs. Revenue-Enhancing Devices
- Purchasing game features...
The Alliance vs. The Empire vs. The Federation vs. Fictional United Nations vs. La Résistance:
- The Federation: Big nations working together.
- The Empire: One nation conquers all.
- Fictional United Nations: Independent nations with shared central government.
- La Résistance: Fights the power, small-scale.
- The Alliance: Fights the power, large-scale.
Almost Dead Guy vs. Normally, I Would Be Dead Now vs. Not Quite Dead vs. Not Too Dead to Save the Day vs. Only Mostly Dead vs. Staying Alive
- Almost Dead Guy: Character lingers on the verge of death until they fulfill their plot value.
- Normally, I Would Be Dead Now: Character pushes through a downright-lethal injury to keep fighting. May only be temporary.
- Not Quite Dead: Character gives appearance of being dead, but then musters the strength for a final act (or two).
- Not Too Dead to Save the Day: Character actually dies, but gives timely assistance from beyond.
- Only Mostly Dead: Character falls into near-death coma state. Do something and they can be saved!
- Staying Alive: Character visibly dies a certain death, but being dead just doesn't stick on them.
- Alternate Continuity: What happened in the novels didn't happen in the movie.
- Continuity Reboot: What happened in the previous movies never actually happened.
- Alternate Timeline: What happened in the the third and fourth movies never actually happened in the fifth movie.
- Alternate History: What you learned in history class didn't actually happen.
- Alternate Universe: Same physics, familiar characters or places that are different.
- Another Dimension: Different physics, familiar characters or places don't exist.
- An element of a work...
- The heroes are saved...
- Always Murder: A suspicious death inevitably shows up in the plot.
- Never Suicide: Suspicious deaths always end up being murders.
Ambiguously Gay vs. But Not Too Gay vs. Have I Mentioned I Am Gay? vs. Hide Your Lesbians vs. Get Back in the Closet
- Ambiguously Gay: Bob and George like ice skating and Barbra Streisand, but that doesn't mean they're gay...or does it?
- But Not Too Gay: Bob and George are a gay couple, but don't kiss or hug.
- Have I Mentioned I Am Gay?: Bob and George are gay, Take Our Word for It! They're so gay. Gay gay gay.
- Hide Your Lesbians: Bob and George are just friends...or are they...it's dubious...
- Get Back in the Closet: Bob and George are gay and can kiss or get as down and dirty as they want to...automatic NC-17 rating.
Amnesia Danger vs. Amnesiac Liar vs. Criminal Amnesiac vs. Easy Amnesia vs. Forgot the Call vs. Identity Amnesia vs. Laser-Guided Amnesia
- A character has amnesia:
- Amnesia Danger: And loses the skills needed to solve a looming disaster.
- Amnesiac Liar: And is unwittingly fed one of his own lies.
- Criminal Amnesiac: And is convinced they are really one of the bad guys.
- Easy Amnesia: That was easily induced, often from a Tap on the Head, and can be reversed just as easily with no lasting effects.
- Forgot the Call: And forgets they are the hero of an epic adventure.
- Identity Amnesia: And thinks they are a totally different person, possibly a famous historical figure.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: And only forgets personal knowledge that directly affects the plot.
- Amusing Alien: A uniquely otherworldly being who's funny.
- Funny Foreigner: A being from a faraway (but not alien) place who's funny.
- Anachronic Order: One plot, presented out of order from how it happened.
- Meanwhile, in the Future...: Separate plots, separate times, presented together.
- Ancient Conspiracy: Keep the evil plan secret from the non-conspirators.
- The Masquerade: Keep the secret world secret from the muggles.
- And Some Other Stuff: List of items deliberately has some missing entries.
- Cow Tools: Strange items in background add verisimilitude.
- Noodle Implements: Set of normal items a character can use to unusual ends.
- That Mysterious Thing: Characters refer to an item cryptically, mostly to hide it from the audience.
- 'I know this story, because really... I was there!'
- The dramatic list of reasons to beat Bob up...
- If this didn't work the way it did...
Anti-Magic vs. Counterspell vs. No-Sell vs. Power Nullifier:
- The hero is unable to blast the villain with a fireball because...
Anyone Can Die vs. Characters Dropping Like Flies vs. Kill Em All vs. Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies vs. Total Party Kill
- Anyone Can Die: There's a good chance a main character will die.
- Characters Dropping Like Flies: There's a high frequency of characters, main or not, dying.
- Kill Em All: There's a good chance a large number of main characters will die.
- Character will cheerfully mate with...
- Apparently Human Merfolk: Basically looks human, but can live underwater.
- Fish People: Monstrous fish being, with upright stance.
- Our Mermaids Are Different: The half-fish, half-person design, and variations thereof.
- Unscaled Merfolk: The fishy part is a scale-less species, like crustaceans or mollusks.
Applied Phlebotinum vs. Green Rocks vs Single Phlebotinum Limit vs. Magnetic Plot Device vs. Mineral MacGuffin vs Minovsky Physics vs. Unobtainium :
- Neat stuff that...
- Applied Phlebotinum: moves the plot forwards.
- Green Rocks: can do anything.
- Magnetic Plot Device: justifies all the weirdness.
- Mineral MacGuffin: is fought over.
- Minovsky Physics: is rigidly defined despite not actually existing.
- Single Phlebotinum Limit: does do everything, even the things which shouldn't need it.
- Unobtainium: is useful yet hard to find or create.
Applied Phlebotinum vs. MacGuffin vs. Plot Device:
- A thing that...
- The hero wrecked a building. His superior lets him off easy...
- A minor character becomes...
Ascended Fanboy vs Audience Surrogate vs Escapist Character vs The Everyman vs This Loser Is You vs Unfazed Everyman:
- Ascended Fanboy: You dream of this happening to you.
- Audience Surrogate: This is supposed to be you.
- Escapist Character: This is who you wish you could be.
- The Everyman: This is supposed to be you and everyone else too.
- This Loser Is You: This ugly idiot is supposed to be you.
- Unfazed Everyman: This is supposed to be you and everyone else is crazy.
- Meme Acknowledgement: Producers make reference to the work's attached meme.
- Ascended Meme: ...By putting it into the work itself.
Asexuality vs. Celibate Hero vs. Chaste Hero
- The opposite sex shows a clear interest in the hero but he/she...
- An intelligent and nerdy character of Asian descent...
- Asshole Victim: A jerkass has something bad happen to them.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Deliberate cruelty to a character that happens to be mean or evil.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: Vicious act of revenge against an evil character.
- Asshole Victim: Terrible person gets vicious payback. Perpetrator not always mysterious.
- Who Murdered the Asshole?: 'Who would have wanted to kill them?' 'Er lots of people.' Tough case ensues.
- The writer has painted himself into a corner. To get out he...
- Ass Pull: forces an unexpected, un-foreshadowed and unjustified plot turn.
- Shocking Swerve: forces an unexpected, un-foreshadowed, and unjustified plot turn that throws away all or part of the preceding developments.
- Deus ex Machina: forces an unexpected and un-foreshadowed resolution.
- Diabolus ex Machina: Deus ex Machina for the villains.
Astonishingly Appropriate Interruption vs. One Dialogue, Two Conversations vs. One Scene, Two Monologues vs. Two Scenes, One Dialogue
- Astonishingly Appropriate Interruption: A person is talking, something suddenly happens that makes them change subject, and whatever they say next sounds like a plausible continuation. Another person can continue the line, too.
- One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Two people talk and each one thinks they're talking about the same thing, but aren't because of vague words being used.
- One Scene, Two Monologues: Two people talk, but don't listen to each other.
- Two Scenes, One Dialogue: Group A of characters receive information. Cut to Group B receiving the same info or a continuation.
- A-Team Firing: People firing lots of bullets and hitting no-one.
- We insist on heavy offensives:
Attack Hello vs. *Click* Hello vs. "Hey, You!" Haymaker vs. *Twang* Hello
- Attack Hello: Character opens a personal meeting with an attack. Indicates their relationship/personality.
- *Click* Hello: Characters enters the scene with a Dramatic Gun Cock. Heightens drama.
- "Hey, You!" Haymaker: Character gets someone's attention so that it opens them up to a hit.
- *Twang* Hello: Projectile embeds into tree to show The Cavalry has arrived.
- Attack Hello: Greeting someone with an ol' reflex test.
- Dynamic Entry: Entering the scene in a really dramatic fashion.
- What's after their heads at the moment?
- Atomic F-Bomb: "FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!"
- Cluster F-Bomb: "Fucked fucking fuckity fuckfuckers! Fuck!"
- Precision F-Strike: "I am dead fucking serious, Mr President."
- A version of the work that affects:
- I just wrote something that...
- The author included fetish stuff...
- Author Avatar: A character that represents/is based on the author.
- Descended Creator: The author themselves, appearing in the work As Himself.
- One phrase is repeatedly used by...
Author Filibuster vs. Author Tract vs. Writer on Board vs. Character Filibuster:
- Author Filibuster: Stop everything! The author is making a point here.
- Character Filibuster: To make it a bit less obvious, it's put in a character's mouth.
- Author Tract: This whole thing is the author making a point.
- Writer on Board: The plot goes this way so the author can make a point.
Averted Trope vs. Justified Trope vs. Lampshade Hanging vs. Subverted Trope vs. Double Subversion vs. Zig-Zagging Trope vs. Inverted Trope:
- Averted Trope: The trope that is normally used in this case... WASN'T!
- Justified Trope: We had a good reason for using this trope.
- Lampshade Hanging: Look, we used a trope!
- Subverted Trope: Ha! You thought we were going to use that trope, didn't you?
Awesome, but Impractical vs. Cool, but Inefficient vs. Difficult, but Awesome vs. Too Awesome to Use vs. Useless Useful Spell:
- Like a death-ray...
- Awesome, but Impractical: That is clearly stronger than a gun, but is so costly you only see yourself using it once in a blue moon.
- Difficult, but Awesome: That is stronger than a gun if you master its unusual mechanisms, but weaker than a gun in unskilled hands.
- Cool, but Inefficient: That looks fancy, but is ultimately weaker than a gun.
- Too Awesome to Use: With one shot. You'll save it forever and just use a gun.
- Useless Useful Spell: That only fires when it's being pointed at something that could be killed with a gun.
Ax-Crazy vs. Blood Knight vs. Psycho for Hire:
Back for the Dead vs. Bus Crash vs. Character Outlives Actor vs. Dropped a Bridge on Him vs. McLeaned vs. Put on a Bus vs. Put on a Bus to Hell vs. Written-In Absence:
- Put on a Bus: Left the show, might come back.
- Put on a Bus to Hell: Put on a Bus in a mean way, but lives.
- Character Outlives Actor: The actor died, the character is written out of the show.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Killed off in a mean way.
- McLeaned: The actor left and the writers kill their character so they can't come back.
- Written-In Absence: Temporarily put on a bus to keep the numbers down.
Back Stab vs. In the Back
- Bad Ass Back: Fighting a character with your back to them.
- Offhand Backhand: Pulling off a move without looking.
- They're both smart and good fighters. But at first, you don't see...
- The longcoat (or similar)...
- The story ends...
- The villain...
- Bait-and-Switch Gunshot: The gunshot doesn't hit who we thought it did.
- Staged Shooting: Faked shooting or exection.
- Baleful Polymorph: Bob is freaking out because Alice the witch turned him into a bunny.
- Transformation Horror: Alice is freaking out because she forgot to look away while it happened.
Bara Genre vs. Yaoi:
- Polarizing opinion about...
Bat Deduction vs. Conviction by Contradiction vs. Conviction by Counterfactual Clue vs. Eureka Moment:
- Bat Deduction: Conclusions about what happened based on insufficient evidence are treated as justified.
- Conviction by Contradiction: Conclusion that someone is guilty based on a flaw in their alibi is treated as justified.
- Conviction by Counterfactual Clue: Conclusion that someone is guilty based on circumstantial evidence from false premises is treated as justified.
- Eureka Moment: Conclusions about what happened are inspired by completely unrelated events.
Bat Deduction vs. Entertainingly Wrong vs. Right for the Wrong Reasons vs. The Cloudcuckoolander Was Right
- Bat Deduction: Nonsense connection between true premise and correct conclusion.
- Entertainingly Wrong: Wrong premise leads to wrong conclusion.
- Right for the Wrong Reasons: Premise is wrong, but conclusion is coincidentally true.
- The Cloudcuckoolander Was Right: No sane person would believe the premise and/or the conclusion...which are still right.
Batman Gambit vs. Gambit Pileup vs. Xanatos Gambit vs. Gambit Roulette vs. Xanatos Speed Chess:
- Batman Gambit: I know what you'll do and I'll use that to win.
- Gambit Pileup: Everyone's plans crashed into each other...I don't know who'll win.
- Gambit Roulette: No matter what happens, no matter how unpredictable, I'll still win.
- Xanatos Gambit: No matter what you do, I'll still win.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: If it looks like I won't win, I'll make up a new plan so I will.
Batman Gambit vs. Cloning Gambit vs. Fake Twin Gambit vs. Genghis Gambit vs. Lysistrata Gambit vs. Memory Gambit vs. Party Scheduling Gambit vs. Poison-and-Cure Gambit vs. The Uriah Gambit vs. Wounded Gazelle Gambit vs. Xanatos Gambit vs. Zero-Approval Gambit:
- Batman Gambit: I know what you'll do and I'll use that to win.
- Cloning Gambit: I'll have my clone killed so everyone thinks it was really me and I can vanish.
- Fake Twin Gambit: I'll play like I'm my twin, even though I don't have one.
- Genghis Gambit: Hey, everyone, I know we don't get along but those guys over there just called all of us pansies! Let's kill 'em!
- Lysistrata Gambit: Alice to Bob: "Do what I say or you get no play."
- Memory Gambit: I don't need these memories right now, but I'll do something so that they're available later.
- Party Scheduling Gambit: I'll totally wreck their party with my way better party!
- Poison-and-Cure Gambit: I'll get 'em all sick and make 'em buy the cure for 100000X what it's worth.
- The Uriah Gambit: I need this flunky out of the way...and there's a Red Shirt opening tailor-made for him!
- Wounded Gazelle Gambit: I'll hurt myself and blame Alice so Bob will feel sorry for me.
- Xanatos Gambit: No matter what you do, I'll still win.
- Zero-Approval Gambit: You're gonna hate me for this, but you'll thank me later.
- The Battle Didn't Count: You must win, but I don't die.
- Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: You must win, now I kick your ass.
- Hopeless Boss Fight: You must lose, then we continue.
- I Let You Win: You must win... as part of my plan.
Beast Man vs. Funny Animal:
- If you're really curious, refer to their analysis pages for more.
- Beautiful All Along: Now that you've taken off your glasses and let down your hair, I realize you're beautiful.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: Now that you've put on a ball gown and had a makeover, you're even more beautiful.
- She Is All Grown Up: Now that puberty's beaten you with a pretty stick, you're even more beautiful.
- Beautiful All Along: Thinking you're ugly but revealed to be beautiful.
- I Just Want to Be Beautiful: Thinking you're ugly and desiring beauty.
- The Makeover: Being groomed into beauty.
- You wish for something and get it. But...
- A non-human wants to get more human-like with respect to...
- Two people are in a romantic relationship, but also at odds, because...
- Bellisario's Maxim: We can't make it perfect, cut us some slack.
- MST3K Mantra: Not everything is important, relax.
Beneath the Mask vs A Darker Me vs G.I.F.T. vs Hidden Depths:
- Alice is a different person...
- Let's cash in on the success of The Wacky Adventures of Bob and Alice by...
BFG vs. Hand Cannon
- The story has multiple Big Bads, and:
- Big, Bulky Bomb: Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- Cartoon Bomb: Old school round black bomb, sometimes labeled "BOMB".
- Incredibly Obvious Bomb: Bomb that's right out in the open.
- Big "NO!": Character's verbal reaction to being upset.
- Squick: Physical reaction to something upsetting.
- Bittersweet Ending: Good guys win, but at great cost.
- Pyrrhic Victory: Objective accomplished, but you lost more than you won.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: The story is mostly cynical, but the ending is more idealistic.
- Black Comedy: Jokes about normally serious things.
- Gallows Humor: Jokes by victims to relieve tension.
- Black Sheep Hit: Hit song is very different from the musician's usual style.
- Creator Backlash: Creator detests their popular work.
- Magnum Opus Dissonance: Nobody remembers the creator's pet project.
- Old Shame: Creator hopes everyone forgot about their work.
- Bland-Name Product: Alice and Bob drive a BMV.
- Fictional Counterpart: Alice and Bob's new adventure is set in the BMV factory.
- Blatant Lies: Lies no-one would believe.
- Implausible Deniability: Denial despite overwhelming evidence.
"Blind Idiot" Translation vs. Either "World Domination", or Something About Bananas vs. My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels vs. Translation Train Wreck:
- What Alice says makes no sense...
- My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: ...because she doesn't speak the language.
- Either "World Domination", or Something About Bananas: ...because her friend Bob tries to interpret for her and comes up with two wildly different translations.
- "Blind Idiot" Translation: ...because Carla, the book's translator, fails.
- Translation Train Wreck: ...but neither does anything else in the narrative or dialogue, because the translator doesn't speak either language.
- A cool line uttered...
Bonus Boss vs. Skippable Boss vs. True Final Boss
- A boss battle that is...
Boobs of Steel vs. Buxom Is Better vs. Gag Boobs vs. Most Common Superpower
- She has big boobs...
Boss in Mook Clothing vs. Demonic Spiders vs. Elite Mook vs. Giant Mook vs. King Mook vs. Mook Lieutenant vs. Superpowered Mooks vs. Surprisingly Elite Cannon Fodder
- Boss in Mook Clothing: Videogame trope. Spawns as a standard enemy but has the stats of a plot-critical one.
- Demonic Spiders: Videogame trope. Spawns as a standard enemy but is extremely frustrating to kill.
- Elite Mook: Mooks trained and/or mutated into a more powerful version of themselves.
- Giant Mook: Mook is bigger and tougher but not much more dangerous or meaningful.
- King Mook: Videogame trope. Boss battle is with a boss-grade version of a mook monster.
- Mook Lieutenant: Commander of the mook army. May be an Elite Mook themselves.
- Superpowered Mooks: Normal mooks aren't working. Bring out the ones with kooky abilities.
- Surprisingly Elite Cannon Fodder: Expendable troops that keep surviving suicide missions.
- Your prize isn't helpful:
- Characters wet or soil themselves...
Breaking the Fourth Wall vs. Fourth Wall vs. Medium Awareness vs. No Fourth Wall vs. No Inner Fourth Wall:
- Fourth Wall: Spider-Man doesn't know he's a character in a comic book.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Deadpool does know he's a character in a comic book.
- No Inner Fourth Wall: Jack Slater finds out he's a character in a story, but the story itself is also fictional.
- Bob tells Alice what a pathetic creature she is...
Bribing Your Way to Victory vs. Buy Them Off vs. Every Man Has His Price vs. Screw the Rules, I Have Money!
- I have a lot of money, therefore I can...
- Brick Joke: You don't know why it was there until it shows up again later.
- Chekhov's Gag: It was a joke. Now it's back for a second round.
Broken Aesop vs. Clueless Aesop vs. Family-Unfriendly Aesop vs. Lost Aesop:
- The moral of The Boy Who Cried Wolf is...
- Broken Base: The fans disagree too much with each other.
- Fan Dumb: Some fans are simply trolls.
- They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: The fans consider every change in the source as "Ruined FOREVER!"
- Unpleasable Fanbase can cover all of the above, but is about how any effort to please the fans will fail because of differing desires. (With the exception of And the Fandom Rejoiced)
Buffyspeak vs. Jive Turkey vs. Totally Radical
- The slang...
- Bulletproof Human Shield: Using a human body as a shield always stops bullets.
- Human Shield: The villain holds an innocent in the line of fire.
- Bullet Time: Slow-motion visual effect showing a character's heightened senses/reactions.
- Super Reflexes: Stock Superpower of reacting to situations faster than normal; may be depicted (visually) with Bullet Time, Slow Motion, or some other effect.
- Before he thrashed you with his superpowers because you picked on him, did you know he had any?
Bunny-Ears Lawyer vs. Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass vs. Obfuscating Stupidity vs. Obfuscating Insanity vs. Let's Get Dangerous! vs. Crazy Awesome:
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Quirky but still competent.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Is incompetent until pushed.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Deliberately acts stupid to conceal competence.
- Obfuscating Insanity: Deliberately acts crazy to conceal competence.
- Let's Get Dangerous!: Said to be badass but seems incompetent, until pushed.
- Crazy Awesome: Competent because of their craziness.
- Burn the Witch!: Witches are killed by immolation.
- Witch Hunt: Fanatical crusade to drive out a perceived threat, whether it's real or not.
- Witch Hunter: Hunter of witches and/or supernatural beings.
- "I'm pregnant? But..."
- Your villian does not do serious evil...
Butt-Monkey vs. Cosmic Plaything vs. The Chew Toy vs. The Woobie:
- Your life sucks...
- By "No", I Mean "Yes": "We are not <X>. Ok, we are <X>."
- Distinction Without a Difference: "We are not <X>; we are <Y>," when <Y> is functionally the same as <X>.
Byronic Hero vs. Classical Anti-Hero vs. Knight In Sour Armor vs. Knight Templar vs. Nominal Hero vs. Pragmatic Hero vs. Sociopathic Hero vs. Unscrupulous Hero
- All are specific types of Anti-Hero:
- The Byronic Hero is governed by their internal conflict and passion and they tend to stand by them alone which leads to conflict.
- The Classical Anti-Hero lacks self-confidence and/or self-worth and is notably more flawed.
- The Knight In Sour Armor lacks a positive outlook and idealism.
- The Knight Templar is a villain who thinks they are a hero.
- The Nominal Hero lacks a moral desire to do good and is only a hero for personal gain.
- The Pragmatic Hero lacks moral cleanliness.
- The Sociopathic Hero lacks empathy for the lives of their enemies and often others in general.
- The Unscrupulous Hero lacks both moral cleanliness and a positive outlook.
Call-Back vs. Continuity Nod vs. Mythology Gag:
- Call-Back: Relevant reference to series' continuity.
- Continuity Nod: Irrelevant reference to series' continuity.
- Mythology Gag: Reference to the franchise's history.
- The Call Knows Where You Live: The Hero's family is killed by the Villain so he can't refuse the call of destiny.
- The Villain Knows Where You Live: The Villain threatens The Hero's family and shows he knows exactly where to strike.
Calvinball vs. Gretzky Has the Ball vs. Artistic License Sports vs. New Rulesasthe Plot Demands vs. Unnecessary Roughness:
- The rules of the game...
- Calvinball: ... don't exist.
- Gretzky Has the Ball: ... are misrepresented in-character for Rule of Funny.
- Artistic License Sports: ... are misrepresented/ignored by the writers for convenience or Critical Research Failure
- New Rules as the Plot Demands: ... are ignored for convenience for in-universe only sports.
- Unnecessary Roughness: ... are ignored even in the face of violent and injurious behavior.
- Camp Straight: Acts Camp, but is not gay.
- The Dandy: Generally concerned with appearance; the "metrosexual".
Canon vs. Fanon vs. Ascended Fanon vs. Fanon Discontinuity vs. Canon Discontinuity vs. Running the Asylum vs. Extended Universe vs. Word of Dante vs. Word of Saint Paul vs. Word of God:
- The fandom says something happened in the story.
- Canon: It did.
- Fanon: It didn't.
- Ascended Fanon: It didn't, but then the writers put it in.
- Fanon Discontinuity: It did, but the fans pretend it didn't.
- Canon Discontinuity: It used to, but now it actually didn't.
- Running the Asylum: It didn't, but it seeped in as fans started populating the writing staff.
- Word of Dante: It didn't, but it's unanimously accepted.
- Word of Saint Paul: It isn't shown in the work, but the writer's family or other people close to him said it did.
- Word of God: It isn't shown in the work, but the writers said it did.
- Expanded Universe: It happened in a work written by a third party and endorsed by the author.
- Canon Foreigner: refers to a character exclusive to a certain adaptation of a previously-existing fictional universe.
- Canon Immigrant: is when a character originally created in an adaptation is later introduced in the original source material.
Canon Sue vs. Creator's Pet vs. The Scrappy vs. X-Pac Heat:
- Canon Sue: Character represents the author.
- Creator's Pet: Fans hate the character but the authors love them.
- The Scrappy: Fans hate the character but he/she/it still has major role.
- X-Pac Heat: Fans hate the actor rather than the character.
- Cannon Fodder: Dies to make the hero look powerful.
- Redshirt Army: Dies to make the villain look powerful.
Captain Ersatz vs. Expy:
- A duplicate from another work, which...
- You can tell this character is evil from their:
- A character's love interests frequently end up...
- Dates lots of partners, looking for...
The Cassandra vs. Cassandra Truth vs. Ignored Expert:
- Cassandra Truth: A character's warnings go unheeded, despite...
- Cassandra Gambit: I release the truth through low-credibility channels.
- Cassandra Truth: I try to tell you the truth, but you won't believe me.
- Sarcastic Confession: I tell you the truth because I know you won't believe me.
- The character has an important message...
- Alice, I must have you! Succumb or...
- Phrase a character says a lot...
- Two girls fight each other because...
- Cerebus Syndrome: A light, comedic series gets more serious and dramatic as it goes on (but not necessarily darker).
- Darker and Edgier: Either:
- A series gets darker undertones over time.
- A sequel/reboot/alternate continuity is noticeably darker than its predecessor(s) (but not necessarily more serious).
- Character's personality changes without proper justification...
- Bob has been up on stage talking for ten minutes because...
- Character-Magnetic Team: The group keeps attracting new members.
- Hitchhiker Heroes: New group members turn up during the quest.
- Magnetic Hero: The hero keeps attracting followers.
- You cheat and lose...
- Chekhov's Gun: Seems unimportant at first, then turns up as plot device.
- Chekhov's Boomerang: You think you're finished with the plot device, but here it comes again.
- Chekhov's Armoury: Everything is a Chekhov's Gun.
Cherry Tapping vs. Death of a Thousand Cuts vs. Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu? vs. Finger Poke of Doom vs. Zerg Rush
- Cherry Tapping: Weak move finishes opponent.
- Death of a Thousand Cuts: Many weak attacks have strong cumulative impact.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Weak character defeats very strong opponent.
- Finger Poke of Doom: Weak attack does lots of damage.
- Zerg Rush: Swarm attack by lots of weak opponents.
- The Chessmaster: Treats everyone like pawns.
- Magnificent Bastard: It's not exploiting, it's manipulating with style!
- Manipulative Bastard: Uses peoples' emotions to exploit them.
- Chewing the Scenery: An action: What a Large Ham does
- Large Ham: A person: A performer who often or always overacts.
- A character explodes into a shower of blood...
- Wig, Dress, Accent: A character physically disguises himself.
- Clark Kenting: A character disguises himself to maintain a Secret Identity.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: The audience isn't fooled by the disguise.
Clarke's Third Law vs. Magic by Any Other Name vs. Magic from Technology vs. Magic-Powered Pseudoscience vs. Magitek vs. Post-Modern Magik:
- Clarke's Third Law: Characters cannot distinguish powerful tech from actual magic.
- Magic by Any Other Name: A mysterious force of incredible power that is still totally not magic.
- Magic from Technology: Technology does such incredible things it looks like magic.
- Magic-Powered Pseudoscience: Everyone thought it runs on science; actually it runs on a magic effect.
- Magitek: Devices that require magical effects to operate.
- Post-Modern Magik: How do conventional magic rules interface with all the stuff we have nowadays?
Cliffhanger vs. Sequel Hook:
- You wait for the next episode to see...
- Closing Credits: The credits that roll at the end of a show.
- Creative Closing Credits: Interesting variations on closing credits, as opposed to the classic "white text and black background."
- Credits Gag: A joke that appears during the end credits.
- Coincidental Broadcast: TV conveniently progresses plot.
- Crystal-Ball Scheduling: TV conveniently parallels plot.
- Coitus Ensues: Characters have sex with no lead-up or reason.
- Next Thing They Knew: Character flirt a bit, camera cut to them having sex.
- One Thing Led to Another: Dialogue trope as character glosses over the circumstances leading to sex.
- Romance Ensues: Not sex-related. Two characters, talking together alone, realise they're attracted.
- Interrupted Intimacy: Someone butts in before sex can start.
- Primal Scene: Child sees people (usually parents) having sex.
- Coitus Uninterruptus: Couple keeps banging while talking to someone.
Color-Coded for Your Convenience vs. Chromatic Arrangement vs. Red Shirt vs. Bring My Red Jacket vs. Turns Red vs. Law of Chromatic Superiority
- The red ones...
Combat Medic vs. Deadly Doctor vs. Martial Medic
- The character knows how to heal...
Comic-Book Fantasy Casting vs. Hypothetical Casting vs. Ink-Suit Actor vs. No Celebrities Were Harmed vs. Textual Celebrity Resemblance
- Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: Drawn character just looks like a real person.
- Hypothetical Casting: Original creator would like a certain person cast in the adaptation.
- Ink-Suit Actor: Animated character resembles its voice actor.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Character is fictionalized version of celebrity.
- Textual Celebrity Resemblance: Written character resembles a real celebrity.
- Comic-Book Time: When the setting starts in one era and moves forward in time similar to real-world time, but the characters don't age.
- Frozen in Time: When the setting and everything needs to be in a particular era in order for the work to make sense or be accepted by audiences.
- Webcomic Time: When the setting does not move forward in time like real-world time, and because of that the characters don't age.
- Compilation Re-release: A collection of related games resold as a bundle.
- Game of the Year Edition: A game and its add-ons resold as a bundle.
- Updated Re-release: A game is improved and sold as a new product.
- Video Game Remake: A game is remade from scratch and sold as a new product.
Confusion Fu vs. Indy Ploy vs. Strategy Schmategy:
- Bob is unpredictable because...
- Generating units requires...
Contemplate Our Navels vs. Fauxlosophic Narration vs. Ice-Cream Koan vs. Meaningless Meaningful Words vs. Word Salad Philosophy
- Contemplate Our Navels: Character action: Staring at their chest and (successfully or otherwise) pondering the universe.
- Meaningless Meaningful Words: Adding flowery words to prose does not equal profundity.
- The other tropes concern prose that appears intellectual and profound, but on closer (or any real) inspection is actually just gibberish. This comes in the form of:
- Conveniently Precise Translation: an unrealistically accurate translation...
- Conviction by Contradiction: Bob is proven guilty by information that really shows only that his alibi is false.
- Conviction by Counterfactual Clue: Bob is proven guilty by information that is factually inaccurate.
- A cook that makes very bad, even toxic food...
- Corrupt Church: Started good, turned evil inside.
- Path of Inspiration: Started and stayed evil, but is good on the outside.
- Religion of Evil: Purely evil.
- Cosmic Horror Story: The genre where we'll all eventually get eaten by monsters from beyond comprehension.
- Eldritch Abomination: The creatures that do the eating.
- Lovecraft Lite: The genre where the monsters from beyond all comprehension get killed and we don't get eaten.
- Character reveals supposedly-secret information by:
- Cowboy BeBop at His Computer: The news gets it wrong.
- I Am Not Shazam: Casual fans and nonfans mistakenly think the title of the story is also the main character's name.
- Fandom-Enraging Misconception: Fans react poorly to mistakes, genuine and otherwise.
- A creator hates one of their works...
Creepy Child vs. Cute But Psycho vs. Enfant Terrible vs. Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon vs. A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing
- They look charming, but:
- Creepy Child: They do things that are disturbing for someone their age.
- Cute But Psycho: When they flip, they'll stab everyone in the room.
- Enfant Terrible: They got into being evil early.
- Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon: They are planning right now how to destroy you and everything you love.
- A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: They're putting on an act to hide something less savoury, albeit not necessarily evil.
Creepy Doll vs. Happy Fun Ball vs. Perverse Puppet
- A doll, puppet, or toy that is...
- Critical Research Failure: Anybody who knows anything about the subject knows that bit is wrong.
- Dan Browned: The author or the advertising said it's true. It's not.
Crossover vs. Intercontinuity Crossover vs. Massive Multiplayer Crossover vs. Mega Crossover vs. Fusion Fic:
- Crossover: Characters from different stories, but the same universe, meet.
- Intercontinuity Crossover: Characters from two different universes meet.
- Massive Multiplayer Crossover: Characters from three or more different universes officially meet.
- Mega Crossover: Characters from three or more different universes unofficially meet.
- Fusion Fic: We replaced story A's characters with characters from X, let's see what happens...
- A seemingly inept character becomes capable...
Cryptic Background Reference vs. Noodle Incident vs. Riddle for the Ages vs. A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma vs. The Unsolved Mystery vs. Plot Hole
- Cryptic Background Reference: Offhand reference to World Building. Goes unexplained.
- Noodle Incident: Offhand reference to character personal history. Goes unexplained.
- Riddle for the Ages: Strange/ambiguous thing happens on-screen. True nature or events that caused it go unexplained.
- A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma: Stock Phrase associated with strange occurrences.
- The Unsolved Mystery: The detective just can't solve this one.
- Plot Hole: Something is poorly-explained, creating a problem in the plot contingency.
- The fight is completely one-sided and ends with...
- A child learns about the world around him by...
Cute and Psycho vs. Sugar-and-Ice Personality vs. Tsundere vs. Yandere
- Acts A but has a B side.
Dead Person Conversation vs. Mummies at the Dinner Table vs. Of Corpse He's Alive vs. Please Wake Up vs. Talking to the Dead
- He's not really dead as long as...
- Dead Person Conversation: ...he talks to us from the afterlife.
- Mummies at the Dinner Table: ...I say he's just resting.
- Of Corpse He's Alive: ...I don't get caught pulling the strings.
- Please Wake Up: ...I keep crying and nudging him.
- Talking to the Dead: ... I talk to him, even if he's not there to listen.
- Death by Mocking: Generalized taunting will get you killed.
- Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Taunting the villain or monster will get you killed.
- Let's Mock the Monsters: Making fun of silly-looking monsters is fine.
Death Is Cheap vs. Death Is a Slap on the Wrist vs. First Law of Resurrection vs. Resurrective Immortality vs. Staying Alive
- A character keeps returning to life:
- Death Is Cheap: Because the series makes resurrection easy.
- Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Because the game doesn't really punish you for dying.
- First Law of Resurrection: Because the writer was determined to keep them in the plot.
- Resurrective Immortality: Because it's their explicitly-stated power.
- Staying Alive: Because they have secret ways to get around dying.
- How do you dispose of an undying being?
- Decapitation Required: Deal it an injury there's no regenerating from (can also appear as the Chunky Salsa Rule).
- Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: Weaponise a substance or property that hurts it.
- Immortal Breaker: Acquire a weapon that ignores immortality.
- Mortality Ensues: Remove its undying-ness, then kill by normal means.
- DecemberDecember Romance: Elderly characters fall in love.
- Grow Old with Me: Couple has a long-lasting relationship.
- Deface of the Moon: The Moon is damaged by someone to make a point.
- Detonation Moon: The Moon is simply destroyed.
- A product appears in a work of fiction that is:
- Annoying, hard-to-kill/avoid video game monsters that are:
- Shaped Like Itself: Explanatory statement that is at the same time a description.
- Department of Redundancy Department: A description that is repetitive, possibly humorous, repetitive, and repetitive.
- Two people who're hostile, yet romantically attracted...
- Alice keeps chasing Bob...
- The Determinator: ...despite hunger, dehydration, and a broken arm, simply because she's pissed.
- Implacable Man: ...because she's an indestructible robot following her programming.
- The Juggernaut: ...because there's no blockade she can't break through.
- Perpetual-Motion Monster: ...because she never has to stop.
Deus ex Nukina vs. Nuclear Option vs. Nuclear Weapons Taboo vs. Nuke 'em vs. You Nuke 'Em
- Nukes are...
- Deus ex Nukina: Used in unrealistic ways to crank up the drama.
- Nuclear Option: Used as an absolute last resort when all else has failed.
- Nuclear Weapons Taboo: Substituted with a weapon that's just as destructive.
- Nuke 'em: Used frequently, recklesly and exclusively to almost anything else.
- You Nuke 'Em: Used whenever the player in a video game feels like using them.
- Shipper fights for their OTP...
Diesel Punk vs. Raygun Gothic:
- Raygun Gothic: How sci-fi artists of the 20's through the 50's imagined the future would look.
- Diesel Punk: How sci-fi authors of today imagine the 20's through the 50's could have gone if our grandparents had more Applied Phlebotinum.
- Character flees the challenge...
- Disc-One Final Boss: The Big Bad is beaten early, and another villain fills the role.
- Starter Villain: Villain that's a warm-up for The Hero prior to facing the Big Bad.
Discontinuity: Canon Discontinuity vs. Fanon Discontinuity vs. Dork Age vs. Retcon
- Something happened in a show, but...
Discredited Trope vs. Dead Horse Trope vs. Forgotten Trope vs. Undead Horse Trope vs. Dead Unicorn Trope
- Discredited Trope: That trope is hardly played straight anymore.
- Dead Horse Trope: A trope is never played straight anymore.
- Forgotten Trope: A trope isn't even heard of anymore.
- Undead Horse Trope: A trope that refuses to die.
- Dead Unicorn Trope: A trope never was played straight to begin with.
Disney Death vs. He's Just Hiding! vs. Never Say "Die":
- Disney Death: You think he's dead, but he's not.
- He's Just Hiding!: You assume he isn't dead.
- Never Say "Die": No one really dies.
- Killing poor people because...
Ditzy Genius vs. Genius Ditz:
- Ditzy Genius: Smart person who does dumb things when they stop paying attention.
- Genius Ditz: Dumb person who becomes amazing when in a certain element.
- Something in an existing franchise...
- The Dragon won't gun down these unarmed civilians when given the order...
- The Dragon replaces his master because...
- Dull Surprise: Actor's flat delivery undermines emotional expression.
- Flat Joy: Character speaks flatly to either be sarcastic or downplay emotional expression.
- That Makes Me Feel Angry: Character explains what they're feeling, usually out of unfamiliarity with normal emotional expression.
- A good person is stupid, or at least more stupid than he used to be. Which came first?