The characters are talking about tropes. They're not talking about tropes from their own series, so it's not Lampshade Hanging. They're not talking about tropes in a way that goes "hey, we're aware that we're fictional", so it's not Meta Fiction. They're not actively involving the viewer, so it's not Postmodernism. They're not tearing down the tropes, so it's not Deconstruction.
They're just talking, in a Seinfeldian Conversation kind of way, about conventions found in media in general. Pointing them out, going "Huh, that's interesting", idly coming up with possible reasons for them. Starting to sound real familiar, right?
Often used as a Shout-Out, in a similar vein as an Affectionate Parody or not. Sometimes it's subtle Lampshade Hanging, describing tropes that occur later in the work, or earlier, but not talking about those events. Either that, or the writers/characters just found some time to kill.
May contain spoilers.
- Lucky Star frequently:
- Genshiken is a tad more meta about it, with the Show Within a Show, and then them narrating the previews when Kujibiki Unbalance became its own show.
- Welcome to the N.H.K. has a lot of conversations like this between Yamazaki and Sato, since they're trying to make a H-Game together and Sato isn't an otaku like Yamazaki. For example, one scene has Yamazaki scolding Sato for trying to write the main heroine like a realistic girl, and then discussing the "patterns" found in games like Victorious Childhood Friends, Meidos and Robot Girls, explaining that these all work because she has no ulterior motive and simply is devoted to serving the protagonist. These conversations also serve to set up Sato thinking of Misaki as something of a soft-spoken Manic Pixie Dream Girl, which gets deconstructed as the series continues.
- Haiyore! Nyarko-san:
- One time Nyarko catches a human cold and tells a confused Mahiro that even powerful aliens can have Weaksauce Weaknesses, delivering a few Shout Outs to famous movies like Mars Attacks!. Which becomes a Chekhov's Gun later when the invading aliens have the same explosive weakness to music that the Martians did.
- In the first episode of the second season, Nyarko brings up the fact that all the recent sequels have the main heroine become pregnant before telling Mahiro they might as well jump on the bandwagon. Of course, it doesn't work.
- In the "Freaky Friday" Flip arc of the first season, while tracking down a time-traveling criminal, Nyarko suggests that the classmate who called in sick that day might have been body-snatched, referring to it as "the Law of Important Characters". However, Mahiro says it'd be way too convenient, and he and Nyarko both laugh it off. So naturally, she was right all along, and their classmate really was body-snatched.
- In Chronicles of the Going Home Club they frequently talk about tropes. Sometimes as Lampshade Hanging, sometimes Breaking the Fourth Wall, but mostly they just talk about various tropes.
- In the Pokémon episode "A Pokémon of a Different Color", Iris's Dragonite meets Clair's Dragonite and they immediately come into conflict. Iris and Clair are annoyed, but Cilan deduces that Clair's Dragonite is female and launches into his film buff explanation, complete with images, of exactly how their initial hatred will vanish when new conflicts test them and love will eventually blossom between the two. The girls don't buy it for a second, and despite the Dragonites getting one more scene later, his prediction doesn't come to pass.
- In episode 38 of Legend of Galactic Heroes, when discussing on the "defection" of the young Kaiser Erwin Josef II to the Free Planets Alliance, Walter von Schönkopf mentioned that enthusiasm amongst the Alliance public would be even higher if the defector was a pretty teenage princess instead, and Alex Cazerne added that by fairytale conventions then, the minister would be the evil one.
- All over the place in Bakuman。, which is a manga about mangakas making manga and therefore frequently discusses the contents of the fictional mangas inside it.
- Full Metal Panic!: In the first major story arc, Sousuke, Kaname and Kurz are caught in enemy territory and surrounded. Kaname and Kurz realize they're in a Bolivian Army Ending situation, specifically referencing the Trope Namer Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (without actually naming it), with Kaname adding that she prefers happy endings. Of course, since this is only the first arc, they do get out of the situation just fine.
- Medaka Box: In one chapter Zenkichi demonstrates to the others that Medaka's perfection doesn't extend to artistic endeavors by having her play the drums; while her performance is technically perfect, it's utterly devoid of self-expression or emotion. Akune and Mogami compare it to the Uncanny Valley, but Zenkichi says it's more like the opposite of that, since a human playing something with such mechanical precision is disturbing in its own way.
- Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes frequently discusses the ways his snowmen demonstrate Art Tropes. He and Hobbes also discuss Comic Books, as in this iconic dialogue, which named a trope:
Calvin: Mom doesn't understand comic books. She doesn't realize that comic books deal with serious issues of the day. Today's superheroes face tough moral dilemmas. Comic books aren't just escapist fantasy. They're sophisticated social critiques.
Hobbes: Is Amazon Girl's super power the ability to squeeze that figure into that suit?
Calvin: Nah, they all can do that.
- In Kyon and Sasaki's backstory in Kyon: Big Damn Hero, their usual conversation was about any trope Kyon could remember at the moment, a trope that was appropriately deconstructed by Sasaki. That's how Kyon's optimism and interest in the supernatural vanished in middle school.
- Haruhi, who reads the in-universe TV Tropes website, also lapses into this on occasion.
- Done in the Peggy Sue fic The Second Try during the post-Third Impact chapters (examples include Adam and Eve Plot to I Hate Past Me) between Shinji and Asuka. Justified, what with both being the only two people left on earth and needing to pass the time.
- In The Bank Called, Your Reality Check Bounced, Kyouya explains what a Portmanteau Couple Name is and why it's used. There's also an outright mention of Corner of Woe, with no explanation offered.
- Varric does a bit of this in All This Sh*t is Twice as Weird, most notably when talking to Josephine about what kind of story he would write for the Inquisition. It's especially humorous because the story credits him as its editor.
- In Girl in the War Rose feels somewhat paranoid after Colin and Justin are petrified.
Rose: You know how in horror movies the serial killer picks off the heroine's friends one by one until she's the only one who's left? That's how I feel.
Lavender: My, don't we have an inflated sense of self?
- In Came Out of the Darkness Seamus is concerned about the Yule Ball.
Seamus: I'm going to end up going alone.
Dean: Quit whining, I don't have a date either. It's not like we're going to die two old men alone surrounded by cats.
- In Fortune Favors the Bold Harry and Blaise discuss whose grave they'd take a piss on if they had a chance.
- A Diplomatic Visit: In chapter 22, when talking about her previous experience with Prince Blueblood at the Grand Galloping Gala, Rarity refers to him as a Prince Charmless.
- In Big Hero 6, when the characters are wondering who the masked villain really is, Fred passes out various Comic Books and points out that the villains are all traditionally Corrupt Corporate Executives, to suggest that Alistair Krei is the Big Bad. He's wrong. It's actually the father-substitute Evil Mentor. But he was supposed to be dead at the time, so it's a reasonable mistake.
- Hot Fuzz has the lead pair discussing various cop movie tropes, with Butterman feeling that he's missed out and Angel denying that they exist in Real Life. Of course, all of them are gloriously invoked by the end.
- In Clerks, the main characters discuss a lot of pop culture. For example:
Randal Graves: Which did you like better? Jedi or Empire Strikes Back
Dante Hicks: Empire.
Dante: Empire had the better ending. I mean, Luke gets his hand cut off, finds out Vader's his father, Han gets frozen and taken away by Boba Fett. It ends on such a down note. I mean, that's what life is, a series of down endings. All Jedi had was a bunch of Muppets.
Trooper Randal: Which did you like better: Mallrats or Chasing Amy?
- Other movies in The View Askewniverse also tend to feature this, if only a little.
- The beginning of the double-Affectionate Parody, Trooper Clerks: The Animated One-Shot (which, of course, was a two-parter):
Trooper Dante: Chasin' Amy.
Dante: Chasing Amy had the better story! Guy likes girl... girl likes girls... girl has sex with guy, then dumps guy for more girls — it ends on a dark note. That's what life is: A series of dark notes. All Mallrats had was a bunch of... sex jokes.
- Breaking Away: "You know how, in cartoons, when somebody gets hit in the head with a frying pan, and their head looks like the frying pan, with the handle and everything; then they go boing, and their head goes back to normal? Wouldn't that be great?"
- Swingers features a scene where the leads are sitting around a table discussing the films of Martin Scorsese and the inherent difficulty of filming in a casino as well as their love of the one take restaurant entry shot in Goodfellas. They later emulate this shot when when entering a club and one of the first parts of the film is shot in a casino.
- Elijah talks about the Lantern Jaw of Justice and other stylistic traits and conventions.
- At the end, David and Elijah's mother talk about Villain Tropes at Elijah's art gallery. She says that Elijah believes there are two main types of villains. There's the soldier villain, who fights the hero with his hands, but there's also the brilliant and evil Arch-Enemy, the really dangerous one, who fights the hero with his mind. Elijah is revealed to be the latter.
- In the opening scene of Swordfish, Gabriel is discussing Ending Tropes with Stanley and Agent Roberts. He compares the hostage situation he is leading with the one in Dog Day Afternoon, and argues that it would be more realistic if the hostage takers in that movie would have been much more cruel, killing multiple hostages from the start, and getting away with the money. Stanley and Roberts argue that audiences will expect a Happy Ending, and that the bad guy can't win to force home An Aesop that crime doesn't pay. Of course, they're trying to invoke it because they don't want Gabriel to do just that to his hostages. It's all foreshadowing to this film's ending, in which Gabriel does get the money and wins.
- The film "Love And Other Disasters" is frequently punctuated by the cast discussing romance tropes, without noticing how they might apply to their present situations.
- In Kingsman: The Secret Service, Valentine discusses various tropes of Tuxedo and Martini Spy Fiction with various characters over the course of the film, showing how he is a Meta Guy on top of being a Diabolical Mastermind.
- Gladiator: Before Maximus fights Commodus in the arena, Commodus talks about how Maximus's epic life story can honestly be called the stuff of legend. He considers just killing Maximus to be anticlimatic, so the only fitting conclusion to the story would be a final showdown in the great arena between the two, although Commodus obviously considers himself the hero in this story.
- Stand by Me has the characters talk about what Goofy is and whether or not Mighty Mouse could beat Superman.
- In Kill Bill Vol 2., when the Bride finally confronts Bill, he monologues about the nature of the Secret Identity in superhero comics. Bill points out that whereas most heroes have to put on the costume to become their alter egos, since Superman was born as the alien Kal-L, his alter ego is in fact Clark Kent. Bill theorizes that Clark Kent is Superman's critique of humanity, comparing him to the Bride trying to blend in when she was really born to be a killer.
- The Scream series has this as a constant. The killers deliberately invokes slasher movie cliches while their targets try to survive by attempting to guess which horror movie tropes the killers would invoke next a move that just as often got them killed as it did save them. Most notably, Randy Meeks gives three rules to surviving a horror movie (don't have sex, don't drink or use drugs, and never say "I'll be right back."), and expands his rules to sequels and trilogies warnings in the later films.
- It's possible to do this without Lampshade Hanging and still accidentally discuss your own story. In a thriller novel entitled Beauty, the love interest talks about how all the fish in her fish tank were chosen because they reminded her of characters in a book, then adds that she originally planned to use fish for Lolita and Humbert Humbert but changed her mind. The hero goes into an aside about how Lolita is his favorite book, because of its skillful use of an Unreliable Narrator who seems nice at first but is in fact evil. Said "hero" is a plastic surgeon trying to sculpt the perfect face, so you can guess where this is going.
- The Dresden Files:
- One of novels has a discussion of which member of the Fellowship everyone is. Harry objects to not being assigned Gandalf, until it is explained that Sam is the real hero of the story. And there's a throwaway line about a certain person being Boromir—said person later betraying the group.
- When Harry sends a young man to Father Forthill for some food, a shower, and new clothes, Forthill casually asks the man to get any Pedophile Priest jokes out of the way early on.
- When It Happens To You: There's a short discussion of Rock Star Parking in Kojak.
- Discworld: Happens quite a bit. For example, Glenda in Unseen Academicals talks (albeit to herself) about how preposterous and formulaic her romance novels are.
- In Reaper's Gale, book seven of the Malazan Book of the Fallen series, Udinass at one point launches into a lengthy rant about Dungeon Crawling, deconstructing the whole thing in great detail. It comes out of nowhere, disappears into nowhere, and borders on Anvilicious, as he seems to be trying to rile up Fear Sengar and his perceived obsession with being on a noble quest - except the two tropes are far from being the same thing and Udinaas had much more subtle Lampshade Hanging moments earlier in the book.
- Spränga gränser by Solveig Olsson-Hultgren: Fiery Redhead is conversed about apropos Cecilia, when one of her friends excuses Cecilia's fiery attitude due to the fact that she's a redhead.
- A major part of The Supervillainy Saga. The characters live in a Cape Punk world and protagonist Gary is a Genre Savvy character who is always trying to figure out which rules from fiction apply and which don't. Deconstructed a bit as everyone thinks he's completely insane for this and only the fact he's a Bunny-Ears Lawyer and Not So Harmless keeps him alive. TV Tropes.org itself gets a few shout-outs in the book.
- Some of Lawrence Block's novels:
- Burglars Can't Be Choosers:
Bernie: Most of Peter Alan Martin's clients are ladies who came in third in a country-wide beauty contest a whole lot of years ago. I think he's the kind of agent you call when you want someone to come out of the cake at a bachelor party. Do they still have that sort of thing?
Ellie: What sort of thing?
Bernie: Girls popping out of cakes.
Ellie: You're asking me? How would I know?
Bernie: That's a point.
- The Burglar Who Traded Ted Williams:
- Tanner on Ice:
- Evan's cellmate comments that Mandalay beer tastes like piss.
Stuart: S'funny how people will say that. 'Tastes like piss.' But how would they know?
- Evan mentions his time in a Turkish jail.
- Evan's cellmate comments that Mandalay beer tastes like piss.
- Burglars Can't Be Choosers:
- 30 Rock: "How come there ain't no Puerto Ricans on Star Trek?! They got every race and life-form in the galaxy, except for Puerto Ricans! What's up with that?!"note
- The Big Bang Theory does this a lot with Science Fiction tropes.
- Since comic book evil (and other things) exist in the world of The Middleman a lot of conversations revolve around tropes and how their in-universe equivalents deviate from them.
- Bosch: In "The Four Last Things", movie director Andrew Holland calls Harry Bosch his "Inspector Javert" and mentions he's a "Son of a Whore". One of his party guests asks if he's thinking about this for his next movie. Holland pauses for a second and says "It's too tropey, who would believe it?"
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer does this a bit in general, but when the Trio become the villains in season six, their conversations almost solely consist of this.
- In one scene from Dead Like Me, George, the viewpoint character for the series, informs her fellows of the roles they play in the ensemble cast. Later in the episode, the oldest and wisest of the troupe casually "breaks trope", much to George's surprise.
- Doctor Who: "Silence in the Library" has the Doctor and Donna discussing how Time Travel can lead to Spoilers if you're not careful, with him admitting that he tries to keep her away from "major plot developments" of the future.
- Dollhouse features an episode where the B plot has Topher programming one of the Dolls to be an ideal best friend for himself so he can have a day of perfect geeky socialization on his birthday. Since he programs her to be a geek, there winds up being a scene where they're playing video games and talking about Science Fiction tropes; among other things, they come to a mild friendly disagreement over whether Green Skinned Space Babes are a hideously stupid Cliché or not (he claims that she's just dissing "good art").
- In one episode of Eureka, Vincent and Fargo are fairly Genre Savvy while watching a "reality show" that is actually a live feed from a biosphere experiment at Global Dynamics. Unfortunately, the Genre Savvy doesn't apply to their own crazy town.
- About 25% of the total runtime of Freaks and Geeks consists of either the "freaks" group discussing music or the "geeks" talking comedy or sci-fi.
- Friends has little side-jokes about this sometimes. In one episode, Chandler discusses Half Dressed Cartoon Animals with Phoebe.
- Heroes has this happen with, of course, Hiro, the series' Ascended Fanboy. He even goes so far as to point out to his Side Kick Ando where in the story he is at certain crucial moments. Hiro firmly believes himself to be the most Genre Savvy guy around, he just doesn't quite realise he's not actually living in the genre he's an expert on. It's more than a little adorable.
- Jane the Virgin lampshades, discusses, and converses telenovela and other romance tropes through the social circles of its aspiring romance writer protagonist Jane and her father Rogelio, who is a telenovela star.
- Occurs in Series H "History" on QI with Stephen, Alan, David Mitchell, Sandi Toksvig, and Rob Brydon digitally edited into a photo of a combat squad. David (whose face was in a somewhat goofy expression) mused that he would be killed off early, while Sandi supposed she would be the woman brought along just to work the radio, but gets forced into flying a plane. Stephen would be the hero from the First World War, Rob gets off right before the end (just when you think he'll make it), and Alan survives the whole thing.
- Stargate SG-1:
- In "Orpheus", Carter picks apart the poor planning on the part of the aliens in Signs.
- In "200", she calls Wormhole X-Treme! creator Martin Lloyd on a particularly absurd use of Unrealistic Black Hole. In fact, because the Framing Device for the Troperiffic episode in question is a discussion with him about how the hell he can adapt Wormhole X-Treme! into a feature film (in what Word of God says is a nod to Firefly and its sequel film), there's plenty of other references too, such as Martin explaining that it's okay to skip over how the heroes actually transitioned from one scene to the next so that you can move on with the plot, so long as you give a quick nod to it in the dialogue with them acknowledging how "convenient" their escape had been; he even goes so far as to accurately define the practice out loud as "Hanging a Lantern On It". Heck, the episode as a whole includes so many Affectionate Parodies of other works generated by the team's competing ideas about how he could do it that it's almost harder to find a moment in the episode that doesn't include Conversational Troping. Those are just the most notable examples.
- After Tuvok and Paris escape from the Show Within a Show holodeck program Insurrection Alpha in Star Trek: Voyager following Seska's evil alterations of it, they and the rest of the senior staff chat about the program in the mess hall, including Captain Janeway's use of Deus ex Machina to rescue them.
- Warehouse 13:
- They discuss Red Shirts, when Myka feels that Artie's secrecy about their current mission could prove life-threatening for them.
Myka: He thinks we're...
Myka (nodding sadly): Yeah.
Pete: First of all, we're not redshirts. And second of all... It's so cool that you knew what I meant!
- This dialog in Season 3, Episode 3:
New Agent Jinx (after missing during Tesla Target practice): "Firing a Ray Gun isn't as easy as it looks in the movies."
Pete: "Hey, No. It is very hard to fire ray guns in the movies. How many times have you seen a Storm Trooper hit what he's firing at? Not once.
- Pete also admonishes himself for missing an obvious video game trope (even using the term "trope") when he and Claudia are trapped in a virtual reality world.
- They discuss Red Shirts, when Myka feels that Artie's secrecy about their current mission could prove life-threatening for them.
- In You're the Worst, Jimmy (a novelist) has a bunch of comments on Ferris Bueller's Day Off:
- Characters in Trinity Universe are fond of this. Especially the prinnies and Etna.
- That's a carry over and logical extension of things from Etna's original series, Disgaea. Characters in those games love to lampshade gameplay mechanics and poke fun at expected tropes (Like the ability to save before a boss fight). They also discuss their own levels and character titles so it's hard to tell at times if it's just them breaking the fourth wall or this is normal topics of conversation for people in their situations (Etna's drop to level one from 1000 due to a summoning gone bad for example is a plot point in the second game and her entire motivation for being a playable character). Also the Episode previews, which is nothing but parodies and playing with tropes (despite the next episodes rarely ever matching them) originate here.
- Sweet Fuse: At Your Side is a visual novel set entirely in a theme park in which all of the attractions are based on video games, in which the seven main characters are obligated to participate in "games" that have been made from the attractions. As a result, there's a lot of discussion about video game tropes, especially in scenes featuring Meoshi, a video game otaku.
- In Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, Monokuma occasionally comments how much he enjoys using tropes and playing with the narrative structure (which is justified, since he means the narrative of the Immoral Reality Show), and in one translation he actually name drops a particular trope he enjoys. Sacrificial Lamb.
- Kiwi Blitz:
Blitz: So what's your schtick? Do you have a Dark Past that's driven you mad!?
Gear: Unfortunately, no. I'm just here for the same reason you are.
Blitz: Oh? Is this the we're-both-the-same card already?
Gear: Something wrong with that?
Blitz: Only one thing... that's more of a line for my Arch Rival. And my rival would have a Mech!
- In this Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, a son and father analyse the trope Mecha-Mooks. Well, the father does anyway. Turns out the son actually just wants a robot toy for his birthday.
- TV Tropes has a forum.
- The Trope of the Week series Echo Chamber does this rather often, which is to be expected in a series about tropes.
- TV Tropes have a podcast On the Tropes. Every week one trope is discussed extensively and the hosts talk about their favourite examples.
- Dorkly Originals parodies much of significant tropes in many franchises, often with Lampshade Hanging.
Scyther: What is it Boss? A Trope from Pokemon that warrants a deeper analysis?
- Dragon Ball Z Abridged has a pair of mooks discuss the Wilhelm Scream. While trying to imitate it, they fail until Vegeta kills them, which makes them do it for real.
- In episode 21 of Princess Tutu Abridged, this is the only way Autor speaks, leading Fakir to the conclusion that he's crazy. He's really crazy.
- In Q&A #1 of The Autobiography of Jane Eyre, Adele mentions she's learning about opera Tosca and that everybody dies at the end, Kill 'Em All style. Then she sings an aria. She's brilliant if bit weirdly over-educated. She likes showing off her knowledge.
- The Let's Play group Spoiler Warning once discussed the Shiny New Australia trope during the climax of Mass Effect 2.
- From the Balcony, a Muppet web series, has Statler and Waldorf discuss a trope and give it a neologism Once an Episode: Trailer Joke Decay (Dej-hah-vous), Incurable Cough of Death (Cough-in), Evil-Detecting Dog (Doggie-dar), Career Resurrection (Travolted), Never Trust a Trailer (Con-mercial), Spontaneous Choreography (Coinci-dance), Fanservice (Run-derwear), Sequel Gap (Weak-quel), Poor Man's Substitute (Hack-tors), Dyeing for Your Art (Fluctu-weight), Narm (Laughter-math), Militaries Are Useless (Armed farces, no relation to the trope), and many more.
- Basically the entire point of the Cracked web series After Hours.
- An episode of The Amazing World of Gumball called "The Test" featured Gumball taking a sitcom personality test online and being dissatisfied with being "The Loser". Later, Tobias starts becoming the main character and Sarah continually complains about everything becoming a Cliché Storm. They explicitly mention All Just a Dream, Christmas Special, Clip Show, and Two-Timer Date.
- The Arthur episode "Bugged" opens with "The Brain" doing this as he and Binky watch a Bionic Bunny episode. He criticizes the use of the Conveyor Belt o' Doom plot the supervillain uses (to which "The Brain" gives a "Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?"-type comment) and the Evil Plan and Latex Perfection devices.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender's episode "The Firebending Masters" has Zuko realize his firebending powers have diminished, and he wonders if it might be because he has changed sides.
- Every installment of the Ben 10 series following the original series does every few episodes.
- Family Guy often makes use of it for the sake of Take Thats or Non Sequitur humor. So far, they've managed to touch on everything from classic literature to "What's the deal with Superman throwing that cellophane 'S'?"
- Steven Universe:
- When discussing the ending of The Spirit Morph Saga in "Open Book", Connie talks about how she thought the book series was, in her own words, "subverting these witch tropes", and was really self aware, only for none of that to seemingly matter in the end.
- Steven's favorite cartoon, Crying Breakfast Friends, often acts as a parallel to his life, such as in "Reformed", where he takes an online survey to find out which characters from CBF the people in his own life most resemble; or "Cry for Help", where snippets of an episode match up to the interpersonal issues of the Gems.
- In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Michaelangelo does this all the time. In "Night of Sh'okanabo", he lists a bunch of horror movies tropes, marking him as a "scholar" of film (the only kind of scholar he is). He also discussed horror tropes in season 1's three-parter "Notes from the Underground".
- In The Venture Bros., this is pretty much the basis of the characters 21 and 24. They're also very Genre Savvy.