Tropes have exceptions. Sometimes, a writer uses a situation that seems indelibly married to a trope, but the trope never appears. It's not a Subverted Trope, because the lack of trope is never pointed out. Nor is it a Lampshade Hanging, because the presence of trope is never pointed out. The trope just isn't there.
That is the core meaning of "averted". The writer just went past the trope. They ignored it, they forgot it existed, or it wasn't even a trope at all in their culture.
Aversions should ALMOST NEVER be listed on trope pages. 99.9% of the time they are the exact same thing as just not using the trope. Generally, only nigh Omnipresent Tropes, or aversion-only tropes should have aversions listed as examples. Simply not using a trope does not mean a work is an example of a trope.
Example of the difference between subverting and averting a trope:
Take the trope Incredibly Obvious Bug. The trope is that listening and tracking devices are huge and obvious with blinking lights, instead of being small, stealthy, and hidden.
- Played straight: A villain plants an Incredibly Obvious Bug on a chair. Despite the green flashing light and periodic beep, the hero does not notice it.
- Subversion: A villain plants an Incredibly Obvious Bug on a chair. The hero finds it and throws it out, muttering, "Does he think I'm blind?"
- Averted: A villain plants a bug on a chair. It is small, camouflaged and unobtrusive, and goes undetected by the hero. The trope never comes into play.
- Alternatively, no bugging is done at all.
Even though There Is No Such Thing as Notability, averting is generally not an example for mentioning on a trope page, except for tropes that are so common that the list of aversions is actually shorter, such as Limited Wardrobe. The reason is that different people have different expectations. For example, say there is an action movie that does not have a single instance of Stuff Blowing Up. Just because you expect it does not mean that it was subverted or used in any manner. If it was not used, then it is not an example. We don't want to have to scroll through examples like:
- Averted in Harry Potter, where nothing like this ever happens.
So aversions worth mentioning will generally follow this pattern: A super-majority of works that have element A will also have trope A, but work W has element A without trope A. If the number of aversions on a tropes page consist of at least a third of the examples, perhaps averting the trope isn't as notable as initially thought.
Remember — just because a trope does not come into play doesn't make it averted. It is when you would very much expect the trope in a work but despite there being plenty of opportunity for it, it is never used. Many tropes have an inverse of themselves — if the inverse is applicable instead, then it's just a different trope being used.
Using words like averted hard, brutally averted, and other such intensifiers is considered Word Cruft, and thus should be avoided.
On some occasions, an averted trope is basically inbetween the straight and the inverted trope. This doesn't count as downplay as long as the trope isn't there.
See Playing with a Trope for a comparison with the ways that a trope can actually be used.