Tropes that are there because the writer had to include them, due to outside factors (even if the writer would have preferred to leave them out).
It happens for a number of reasons:
- Executive Meddling (The execs outright order the creator to include a particular trope.)
- Executive Veto (The execs forbid the use of a trope, which can lead to that trope's inversion or aversion being enforced.)
- Moral Guardians
- A Censorship Bureau or Media Watchdog
- Constraints of the medium (which can lead to a Pragmatic Adaptation).
- Budget and time limitations
Yet be careful about assuming these just from looking at the final work. Many things can happen behind the scenes, and only Word of God, or some other reliable source, can truly tell us if this happens or not. In many cases, the writers did want to include these elements.
Tropes that are often enforced (at least in the circumstances noted):
- 555: Fictional phone numbers and addresses need to avoid corresponding to ones in Real Life.
- Adaptational Modesty is practically mandatory in adaptations that strive to reach a general audience. Even if an actor is comfortable with appearing naked onscreen, extended scenes of full-frontal nudity pretty much guarantee a film an "R" rating, which makes a film much harder to market. Especially mandatory if a character is underage; while putting naked underaged characters in a novel or comic book might fly, it most definitely doesn't in a movie or television series, where (with a few exceptions) they have to be played by real underaged actors.
- American Kirby Is Hardcore: Tweaking a work's marketing (or, in more extreme circumstances, presentation) to make it more suited for a region's preferences.
- And Knowing Is Half the Battle: Became a de facto requirement in many kids' shows from The '80s and The '90s, when networks were required to make a certain percentage of children's programming "educational." Tacking on a moral at the end counted.
- Avoid the Dreaded G Rating. It's presumed that any work that can be seen without moral qualms by anyone, regardless of age, is not worth seeing by adults ("children will watch anything"). Since this would cut into profits by scaring off parts of the potential audience, it needs to be avoided.
- Bland-Name Product: Featuring trademarked brands and products in a movie or TV show can lead to legal trouble if it's done without the manufacturer's permission, especially if they don't approve of the manner in which their products are portrayed. Notable examples include the films of Quentin Tarantino (where characters always smoke "Red Apple" cigarettes and eat fast food from "Big Kahuna Burger"), and Kevin Smith (where characters always chew "Chewley's Gum" and eat fast food from "Mooby's").
- Bowdlerise: The enforcers could be Moral Guardians, government requirements, Values Dissonance for different countries, etc.
- The Coconut Effect, because Reality Is Unrealistic.
- Coconut Superpowers, because of budgetary problems during production.
- Dawson Casting can sometimes be necessary for legal reasons. A very common example is to avoid Union regulations and/or actual laws in regards to youth actors.
- Take the film adaptation of The Reader. David Kross legally couldn't shoot his sex scenes with Kate Winslet until he had turned 18.
- Game of Thrones takes this even further. In the books, Daenerys Targaryen is 13 when she is married off to Khal Drogo, and eventually becomes pregnant with his child—just as she turns 14. She was aged up significantly to avoid the Moral Guardians, but as the time of her birth is tied to Robert's Rebellion, the rest of the cast had to be aged up as well.
- It's a necessity for theatrical productions, as realistic swordplay would not only be too dangerous, but also remove the audience's Willing Suspension of Disbelief in having them worry about the actors.
- For family and children's media, Flynning is necessary for depicting exciting swordplay in a way that's appropriate for its target audience. Realistic swordplay is not only violent, but also detached from the audience's expectations of Rule of Cool; therefore, it's only used in works where the context would be appropriate, such as Robin and Marian and The Duellists.
- Great Offscreen War: Depicting a full-scale war is incredibly expensive in visual media, so budgetary concerns often necessitate keeping things offscreen (save for one or two important battles), or just setting the story in the aftermath. Notable examples include the Great Time War in Doctor Who, the War of the Five Kings in Game of Thrones, the Roman Civil War in Rome, and the Earth-Romulan War in Star Trek: The Original Series.
- Merchandise-Driven: Any work that exists to promote or sell a product (such as a line of toys) will be constrained by product availability, turnover, popularity and gimmicks. Transformers is probably the most successful example.
- Nephewism: To avoid the implications that certain characters (especially family-friendly ones, i.e. from the Classic Disney Shorts) had sex for those children to come to existence.
- Our Lawyers Advised This Trope: Legal disclaimers are necessary to stave off litigation.
- Post-Script Season: If a show is renewed, it'll get written for, but the writers then have to work their way out of the constraints of the original story.
- Precision F-Strike: In many movies whose producers had to fight for "PG-13" ratings, since the MPAA's rules on profanity mean that a movie arbitrarily receives an "R" rating if it uses the word "fuck" more than once.
- Product Placement is often the result of Executive Meddling, while some are done with the agreement of the filmmakers. Whatever reason, this trope brings more money to the production, which often covers the costs of filming.
- "Rise and Fall" Gangster Arc: Hollywood films produced between 1934-54 were expressly forbidden by The Hays Code from depicting criminals getting away with their crimes, so any gangster film made in the period was legally obliged to show the Villain Protagonist getting his comeuppance by the end of the film.
- Rose-Tinted Narrative: When fiction deals with the history of some region, it may sometimes need this to get mainstream success in that region. In worse cases, Rose Tinted Narrative will be required for publication.
- The Deep South in the first several decades of film got a lot of rose-tinting.
- Also happens with other works that require the authorization of their subjects—authorized biographies, for instance.
- Under The Hays Code, priests, ministers, and other religious authorities had to be portrayed respectfully without exception. Fittingly, one of the co-authors of the Code's actual text was a Jesuit Catholic priest—and while he acknowledged that not all "ministers of religion" were worthy of respect, mockery of any one of them would (supposedly) encourage sacrilegious attitudes.
- Spiritual Adaptation: When a legal dispute renders a true adaptation impossible. Many of the films of George Lucas are famous for this; supposedly, he made the original Star Wars because he couldn't get the rights to Flash Gordon, Raiders of the Lost Ark because he had always wanted to produce a James Bond movie, and Willow because he couldn't get the rights to The Hobbit.
- Spiritual Successor: When a legal dispute renders a true sequel impossible.
- Two-Part Trilogy: When a work turns out to be particularly successful, executives often demand two or more followups to cash in on the success of the original, which necessitates writing one story that can be stretched over multiple installments.
- Other times when a writer gets an idea for a multi-part story, they usually can't get the later installments greenlit unless the first one turns out to be successful, which necessitates writing a first installment that can stand on its own.
- White Male Lead: Because the entertainment industry feels (rightly or wrongly) that white people won't relate to someone from an ethnic minority group.
- The Wildcats: Most distinctive-sounding names for athletic teams are copyrighted by actual professional athletic teams, forcing fiction writers to use generic names that are in the public domain.
- Writing by the Seat of Your Pants: If a work is designed not be to be planned out in advance, but have the story changes be decided by things like random chance, or letting the audience vote on outcomes.
- Vinesauce Tomodachi Life leaves many events and outcomes to the Random Number God, any number of plot twists and character traits are established with no real foreshadowing (for the most part). Since Vinny is livestreaming the game and can't save scum his way out of certain events, he ends up being just as surprised as the viewers are by them. Essentially, the series writes itself on the fly.
- Others using random numbers include Il castello dei destini incrociati and Inglip.
Works that enforced a specific trope:
- The titular character of Shang-Chi is a Chinese Bruce Lee Clone and the son of Fu Manchu and an unnamed white woman. The original plan was to make him fully Chinese, but editorial mandate by Roy Thomas enforced But Not Too Foreign and made him half-white. The character's creator and original writer Steve Englehart assumed it was to not alienate white audiences ("there were parts of the south that would not carry Luke Cage), while artist Jim Starlin added that he wasn't great at drawing Asian faces. This was retconned in the 2020s, when Gene Luen Yang introduced the Chinese woman Jiang Li as his mother.
Film - Live Action
- In the Star Wars universe, Yoda remains an example of Inexplicably Awesome because George Lucas explicitly forbade Expanded Universe writers from exploring his backstory, or revealing anything major about his (still unnamed) species.
- In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse are Enforced examples of Those Two Guys, as are Donald Duck and Daffy Duck. When the production staff at Touchstone Pictures (an alternate label for Disney) went to Warner Bros. for permission to use Looney Tunes characters in their film, Warner Brothers only agreed to let them use the A-listers Bugs and Daffy on the condition that they both receive exactly as much screentime as Mickey and Donald, respectively. The surefire way to honor that agreement was to have both characters share every scene with their Alternate Company Equivalents, with neither character appearing without the other. note
- Jaws used Monster Delay - and by extension Nothing Is Scarier - to prevent the audience from noticing the Special Effect Failures associated with the shark animatronics. During production, they consistently suffered mechanical issues, making it difficult to film them for any extended duration of time, and Steven Spielberg expressed his lack of confidence in their convincibility. To work around these issues, early death scenes were shot and edited so that the audience would only see the impact of the shark attacks, rather than the shark itself.
- The second edition of Dungeons & Dragons was written during and after the Satanic Panic attacks on the game. Accordingly, editorial policy at TSR ensured No Campaign for the Wicked. In all canon material, PCs were to be presented as heroes doing good things, and support for Anti-Hero and villain PCs was dropped as completely as possible, with the removal of such elements as the assassin class and half-orc race. They also had to rename demons and devils - demons being renamed tanarri and the devils being called baatezu.
- "Fairy dust" wasn't originally part of the Peter Pan mythos, but was written into later performances as a necessary component for achieving flight. This was done as a response to children injuring themselves trying to replicate the stunts on the show, and to discourage any future children from following suit.
- Secondary Character Title shows up in many plays written around the time of William Shakespeare, specifically those that deal with historical monarchs and rulers. Because of the Elizabethan era's rigid social hierarchy, characters of higher social status had to set themselves apart from the commoners by speaking in verse, and plays always had to be named for the character of the highest social ranking—even if they weren't actually the protagonist. For example:
- In Julius Caesar, the protagonist is Brutus.
- In Cymbeline, the protagonist is Cymbeline's daughter Imogen.
- In Henry IV, the protagonist is the young Prince Hal (who is later the protagonist in Henry V).
- In Henry VI, Part 1 is really about John Talbot's conflict with Joan of Arc, while the remaining two parts are really about the various nobles vying for power around King Henry VI.
- Hamlet, though fictional, might have had to follow that convention had Claudius not been clearly a murderer, and thus not a rightful king.
- In the Punch-Out!! series, Little Mac is significantly shorter than his opponents because the NES game - the first to feature this character - was unable to replicate the wireframe effects of its arcade predecessor, and the player still needed to clearly see the opponent. Therefore, Little Mac was made shorter in order to compensate for these technical limitations.
- Sonic the Hedgehog:
- The reason why Knuckles is Super Gullible is because the creators of Sonic 3 & Knuckles wanted him to be a credible rival to Sonic, yet convincingly pull a HeelFace Turn by the end of Sonic's story, so that there would be justification for him being Promoted to Playable in his own story. This was achieved by having the well-meaning guardian of the Master Emerald tricked by Eggman into antagonizing Sonic, then siding with Sonic while vowing revenge on Eggman once he realizes the truth.
- Sonic himself was Demoted to Extra in Knuckles Chaotix, while the titular character received A Day in the Limelight, because Sega of Japan expected the Sega32x to be a flop (which it was), and wanted to minimize the damage the game would do to the franchise's brand image by reducing its namesake's role to a cameo in the good ending's credit sequence.
- During development of the original Super Mario Bros., the Trope Namer for The Goomba came about when play testers commented on the Koopas being too tricky to defeat. With what little space was left in the game at that point in development, the designers implemented the square-height enemy with a basic movement pattern and complete vulnerability, so that less-experienced players could have something to overcome before they face off against more difficult enemies.
- The heavily moralistic angle of Ultima IV and its successors came from complaints from Moral Guardians about how previous games incentivized the player to do evil things, like steal and murder, to get ahead in the game. Horrified by the response, creator Richard Garriot shifted the focus of his games from simple (in his words) "go kill the evil bad guy" stories into complex analyses of morality. This is also what led to the Karma Meter the series would codify, and why the "Thief" class was replaced by the less morally-questionable "Bard" class.
- Hey Arnold! enforced The Tonsillitis Episode in the episode "Gerald's Tonsils." It was written around the time his voice actor hit puberty, and rather than replace him with another boy (or a woman), they used tonsillitis to explain the deeper voice.
- In Looney Tunes, Yosemite Sam was introduced as a Viler New Villain to Elmer Fudd when Friz Freleng considered the latter too Unintentionally Sympathetic to pose as a credible antagonist to Bugs Bunny. While Bugs makes Butt Monkeys out of both villains, Yosemite Sam is an Insufferable Imbecile that actually deserves Bugs' treatment; in contrast, Elmer Fudd became a Villainous Underdog who was so mild-mannered and dimwitted that it made Bugs look like a bully.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- Good Princess, Evil Queen and Princesses Rule. Princess Celestia was a queen when the show was being planned, but Hasbro asked the creator to make her a princess because children viewed princesses as good and queens as evil.
- The massive number of villains who pulled Heel Face Turns and got off scot-free with instant forgiveness was reportedly mandated by higher according to animation director Ishi Rudell, presumably to push the show's theme of the magic of friendship.
- According to Robby London, Sonic Underground had No Ending to prevent a Postscript Season, should the series have been picked up for another season (which it wasn't).
In-Universe ExamplesAnime and Manga
- Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun: Maeno, Miyako's manga editor, enforces Gratuitous Animal Sidekick. He loves tanuki and has Miyako insert them into nearly every scene.
- The Boys (2019): After superheroine Maeve is outed as having a girlfriend, the corporate highers-up play up her status as an LGBT+ member of the team and enforce MasculineFeminine Gay Couple onto her and her girlfriend. Elena is forced to don menswear, because:
Vought: Research has shown that two feminine women in a relationship sends a problematic message. Americans are more accepting of gays when theyre in a clear cut gender role relationship.