Follow TV Tropes

This is based on opinion. Please don't list it on a work's trope example list.



Go To

"'With great power comes great responsibility'
That's the catchphrase of old Uncle Ben
If you missed it, don't worry, they'll say the line
Again, and again, and again!"

A portmanteau of anvil and delicious (or for those who are more etymologically inclined, a combination of "anvil" and "licious," which is ultimately derived from Latin meaning "luring," so it could be interpreted as anvil-luring; "delicious" by the way is ultimately from the Latin meaning "luring from"), anvilicious describes a writer's and/or director's use of an artistic element, be it line of dialogue, visual motif or plot point, to so unsubtly convey a particular message that they may as well etch it onto an anvil and drop it on your head. The term anvilicious thus qualifies as Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness.

"Heavy-handed" for the new millennium. Extreme polar opposite of subtlety.

Frequently, the element becomes anvilicious through unnecessary repetition, but true masters can achieve anviliciousness with a single stroke. The easiest way to be anvilicious is through simple cause-and-effect; someone will do something the writers consider "bad" and then something bad happens as a direct result. If the writers prefer not to show the direct consequences of whatever they're crusading for or against, a common alternative is to have a character presented as completely "centred", "unbiased", and "grounded" testify. Surely if this character agrees with something, it must be the right thing to do.


Common in kids' shows, since they're less aware of subtle nuances, though not as much as writers and directors seem to think.

Bonus points awarded if the supposed message or moral has only but the most tenuous connections to the actual plot, story, or the events of the episode; or, if the consequences brought about to tell the moral are blatantly arbitrary or don't even make any sense (see examples below).

If the work goes beyond anvilicious into hectoring lectures, then it has become an Author Filibuster. Note that some works are openly intended to hammer home points, and are essentially teaching material in literary form: fairy tales, religious works, and position papers of all sorts may be heavy-handed, but that doesn't make them anvilicious. To achieve that distinction, the reader has to experience the sense that the author is foisting opinions, in the guise of telling you a supposedly entertaining story — and doing it clumsily enough that it becomes uncomfortable or irritating. Similarly, it is not anvilicious only because you disagree with any inherent message.


Ultimately, whether one considers an anvilicious story anvilicious in the good way or the bad way often comes down to how much you agree with the anvils. Although this is not always true; one can agree with the anvils whilst still thinking they were not presented in an effective fashion.

Which leads us to the deep question: Should authors try to make their Aesops subtle? Or do anvilicious Aesops actually have a good side, i.e. the fact that people immediately see what the author is trying to do with them? There used to be a trope called "Some Anvils Need To Be Dropped," suggesting that some, at least, are good uses. Just because they "needed" to be dropped didn't make them not Anvilicious, thus that trope was folded into this one.

Compare and contrast Propaganda Piece. See also Script Wank, Can't Get Away with Nuthin', Scare 'Em Straight, Obviously Evil, And That's Terrible, and more than a few Clueless Aesops. Black-and-White Morality often results in these kinds of Aesops. Contrast Accidental Aesop for when a work without an intended Aesop/anvil is seen as giving a valid lesson, and Alternate Aesop Interpretation for when audiences see a different lesson than the intended Aesop/anvil.

Always remember that Tropes Are Tools. Not to be confused with the literal Anvil on Head.

Example subpages:

Alternative Title(s): Heavy Handed, Anvils That Needed To Be Dropped, Necessary Anvil, Some Anvils Need To Be Dropped, Anvil Of The Story