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Exploited Trope

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Sometimes it's obvious a trope is going to happen. This is for when a character knows a trope is going to happen, or is happening already, but rather than trying to deny, change, or even hasten the trope, this character instead decides to take advantage of it.

Perhaps a Mook knows they're turning good, but also realizes Redemption Equals Death. So they use their upcoming death as a Thanatos Gambit against the Big Bad. Or a girl in a romantic comedy knows whom she will end up with, and knowing that the other guy feels that I Just Want My Beloved to Be Happy, helps get another girl to be noticed by that guy. Whatever the case, doing so usually requires the character to be at least a little Genre Savvy; similarly, the mark of a Wrong Genre Savvy character is often that they attempt to do this but fail.


Note that a clever character might also take into account the upcoming trope might be a trick, and this is a Subverted Trope. Thus that character might plan for either outcome.

Compare Invoked Trope (which is deliberately trying to make a trope happen), Flaw Exploitation.

Contrast Defied Trope.

Trope relationships:



    open/close all folders 
  • In recent years, Bud Light commercials adopted the formula that whenever the eponymous drink gets involved, someone says, "Here we go!" For Super Bowl XLVI, a Bud Light commercial is released involving a rescue dog named Weego who fetches Bud Light bottles and kegs whenever someone calls for him. ("Here, Weego!")
  • On a similar note, a series of Discover Card commercials with the slogan "We treat you like you'd treat you" have featured someone phoning a Discover customer-service center, and speaking to a service person who's played by the same actor as themselves. Once this pattern became well-established, they released one in which the service person is not a metaphor for service-quality, but the caller's actual twin sister.
    Anime and Manga 
  • Bleach: Aizen once exploited Hidden Disdain Reveal. When he revealed he was Evil All Along, his Captain, Shinji, freely admits he always knew that Aizen was a bad guy and he never liked him, and had in fact only chosen Aizen as his lieutenant to keep an eye on him. In response, Aizen smugly reveals that that's exactly what he was counting on when he replaced himself with a doppelganger months ago; since Shinji never liked Aizen or got to know him, he was unable to notice any strange behavior after the switch, so he never caught on to it.
  • Digimon Adventure: During the episode "The Arrival of Skullgreymon", Tai exploits Defence Mechanism Superpower by deliberately putting himself in harm's way, knowing that one of the requirements of Digivolution is that the Digimon's human partner has to be in danger. It works too well; Greymon dark digivolves into SkullGreymon and goes on a rampage.
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • During the Frieza Saga, Vegeta exploits Came Back Strong by having Krillin mortally wound him and then having Dende heal him, knowing that Saiyans get power boosts upon recovering from near-fatal injuries. Unfortunately, while he does get much stronger, it's still not nearly enough to make a difference against Frieza.
    • Cell exploits Vegeta's pride and Blood Knight attitude to convince him to help Cell absorb Android 18 and reach his perfect form, knowing that Vegeta can't resist the challenge. Vegeta does so, and Cell proceeds to kick his ass without even trying. While he does so, Cell even takes the time to rub it in Vegeta's face, remarking that he never would have been able to reach his perfect form were it not for Vegeta's arrogance and stupidity.
    • Android 16 exploits Logical Weakness when fighting Cell. Since he's fully mechanical, Cell's bio-extraction ability will not work on him; thus, Cell can't just absorb him for an easy win.
    • Goku's entire plan to defeat Cell hinges on Gohan's Psychoactive Powers; he knows that Gohan is at his strongest when he's angry, and is counting on Cell to make Gohan angry.
    • Cell himself exploits And Your Little Dog, Too! for the purpose of angering Gohan and getting him to unleash his hidden power for the sake of a challenge. Since Gohan refuses to get angry and unleash his power no matter what Cell does to him, he decides to spawn seven Cell Jrs. and make Gohan watch as he sics them on the Z-Fighters, to see if that will make him angry. The final straw is when he crushes Android 16's head underfoot right in front of Gohan, and Cell gets what he wanted.
    • In the Buu Saga, Piccolo, in a desperate attempt to stall for time while Goten and Trunks train, attempts to exploit Death Is Cheap by telling Buu that he can pass the time for his opponent to be ready by killing the remaining humans on Earth, knowing that the Dragon Balls can be used to bring everyone back; this backfires when Buu proceeds to use a Beam Spam attack, fittingly called the "Human Extinction Attack", to kill every last human on Earth in less than two minutes, without even bothering to leave Kami's Lookout in the process.
    • Piccolo successfully exploits Year Inside, Hour Outside shortly after this by having Trunks and Goten train in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber; though he can only stall Buu for a few minutes at most, those few minutes enable Trunks and Goten to get several hours worth of training.
  • InuYasha: During Sango's introductory arc, Naraku makes an effort to exploit Immunity Disability and Feel No Pain. After manipulating Sango into believing that Inuyasha attacked her village and slaughtered everyone there for the Shikon Jewel shard Sango had found earlier (unsurprisingly, Naraku was the real culprit), he embeds another shard in her body that completely negates her ability to feel pain, intending that she'll fight Inuyasha to the death without ever realizing how badly she was hurt. Indeed, she doesn't even notice she's bleeding out until Inuyasha calls attention to her wounds.
  • One Piece: On one occasion, a Dark Action Girl exploited Wouldn't Hit a Girl to delay Sanji from saving Robin, knowing that Sanji won't fight a girl even to save his own life.
  • In Pokémon, each town inexplicably has an identical Nurse Joy and Officer Jenny, all from a common family. The Magikarp Salesman, a recurring con-artist who tries to sell useless Pokémon to James, tries to pass himself off as a similar family to assure wary marks, but he's actually the same guy each time.
  • Saint Seiya: whenever he dies, Phoenix Ikki comes back to life and is twice as strong, so when facing the next to invincible Shaka his plan hinged on making sure he got killed, and not simply knocked out, enough times to become stronger than his opponent. Much to Ikki's horror, Shaka caught on this and decided to remove his senses.
  • Shimoneta: Ayame uses a bedsheet as her 'Blue Snow' disguise, because she knows the Morals Decency Squad can't touch her, without risk of exposing her body. Plus, they'd potentially implicate themselves with a minor (Ayame is 17), which allows her to run right by them without fear of being caught.
  • Sword Art Online: At one point, a character named Grimlock exploits Deceased Fall-Guy Gambit by arranging for the Laughing Coffin guild to kill his wife, expecting that when the game ends, Akihiko Kayaba will be blamed for anyone who dies since he was the one who set up the death game in the first place.
    Comic Books 
  • Some incarnations of Batman actively cultivate and exploit the Hero with Bad Publicity trope because it lends credit to him being far more ruthless than he actually is, therefore scarier to criminals.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics): Sonic once ended up on the losing end of a Curb-Stomp Battle when Eggman used a suit of Powered Armor that was specifically designed to counter and defeat Sonic. The next time he tries, Sonic brings the other Freedom Fighters and Team Chaotix along. Eggman breaks the armor out again, but the suit was designed to outfight Sonic, and only Sonic. Thus, Sonic exploits the Crippling Overspecialization of the armor in the second encounter, and it's Eggman that ends up on the end of a Curb-Stomp Battle.
    • Sonic the Comic: In one story, Sonic faces off against Predicto, a robot that Robotnik programmed to predict Sonic's every move and counter it. When faced with this, Sonic ultimately gives up. Having been programmed to believe that Sonic would never give up, Predicto suffers a Logic Bomb and self-destructs... which is exactly what Sonic expected him to do.
  • League Of Champions: Icestar is captured and tied up by the villain, who subjects the hero to several panels of Evil Gloating. Once the villain has explained his plan, Icestar effortlessly breaks free.
    Fan Fiction 
  • In the Love Hina fic An Alternate Keitaro Urashima, Motoko's Girl Posse, after being rightfully told off by Keitaro, exploit Poor Communication Kills by deliberately withholding the full story, knowing that Motoko will jump to conclusions and assume that Keitaro assaulted them. Unfortunately for them, it backfires, and Motoko is subsequently arrested and charged with attempted assault with a deadly weapon, with said Girl Posse being arrested as accessories; Motoko is genuinely shocked to subsequently discover that her posse lied and Keitaro never touched them.
  • In one episode of Calvin and Hobbes: The Series, Calvin exploits Jack's ability to pull himself together to fit him in his backpack.
  • In Ace Attorney fanfic Dirty Sympathy Klavier uses his Strong Family Resemblance to his brother, Kristoph by disguising himself as him to frame him for murder.
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness Act III has the bullies at Yokai Academy exploit Adults Are Useless and Selective Enforcement. Headmaster Mikogami repeatedly does next to nothing about the various bullies and Jerkasses who deliberately go out of their way to torment and harass Tsukune and his friends, but punishes Tsukune and co. for simply acting in legitimate self-defense against said bullies and Jerkasses, to the extent that he threatens to separate them if they get into another fight. Needless to say, the other students quickly find out and use it to their advantage to actively harass and taunt Tsukune's crew without fear of retribution, gloating they can't do anything or they'll dig themselves in deeper with the headmaster; this climaxes when Nagare Kano exploits it to blackmail the girls into letting him take dirty pictures of them and nearly rape them. After Kano is dealt with and he learns of all this, Mikogami thankfully wises up and reinstates their right to defend themselves so it doesn't happen again.
  • In Total Drama: Cody's Redemption Lindsay exploits the Innocent Fanservice Girl trope in order to get away with openly trying to seduce Cody into being her boyfriend. This lets her hug Cody into her chest as often as possible, perform a cheer routine that shows off her hotness with lots of bouncing around, and all manner of arousing things to Cody without anyone figuring out that she's doing it on purpose, because they think she is too naive and air headed to realize what she is doing.
    Film (Animated) 
    Film (Live-Action) 
  • In The Dark Knight, Harvey Dent manages to take control of dramatic events at a trial and turn them to his advantage, effectively exploiting Courtroom Antics. An accused gangster tries to shoot him in the middle of the trial - Dent promptly punches and disarms him, stunning the entire court. When the judge calls for a recess, Dent hams it up: "Your honor, I'm not finished!"
  • When Tom is chased by half the student body in PCU, he hides from them, and then realizes The Pit needs lots of people at their party, so they can raise money. He then gets the people to chase him to the party.
  • Freddy vs. Jason: Lori and her friends make an effort to exploit Home Field Advantage by moving both Freddy and Jason to Camp Crystal Lake for their showdown; since no one knows the campgrounds better than Jason himself, the odds are in his favor.
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Roger, depressed after learning that his wife was cheating on himnote , is offered a shot of whiskey to drown his sorrows. Problem is, he Can't Hold His Liquor, and a shot results in him turning into a blaring steam whistle for several seconds, causing chaos in the room. After Roger gets caught by the villains in the bar and is about to get killed, Eddie Valiant exploits Roger's trait by suggesting the villains to allow Roger to have one last shot of bourbon, which once again resulted in a whistle and distracted everyone so Eddie and Roger could escape safely.
  • Animorphs: On several occasions, the Animorphs exploit Visser Three's status as a Bad Boss, knowing that his leadership makes the Yeerks less effective. Indeed, it works to their advantage on multiple occasions; more than once, some of the Visser's subordinates have found evidence that the Animorphs were in fact humans, due to such clues as a pair of jeans floating in the sea after a confrontation by a beach. However, due to their fear of the Visser's intolerance and possible wrath, they choose not to question his beliefs (Visser Three was firmly convinced that the Animorphs could only be Andalites due to his belief that the Andalites would never share their technology, especially the morphing technology, with other species).
    Live Action TV 
    Video Games 
    Web Animation 
    Web Original 
    Western Animation 
  • The Batman: Hugo Strange was fully aware that D.A.V.E., the A.I. he created using the personalities and brainwaves of Gotham's criminals, would create a body for itself and challenge Batman, and used it as an opportunity to test Bats, effectively exploiting Gone Horribly Right.
  • When Robert Mandell was creating Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers, he had three animation teams; a high-quality and expensive "A" team; a "B" team that split the difference between quality and price, and the "C" team that was cheap and fast at the expense of quality. He cleverly exploited the Animation Bump effect by making sure the Drama Bomb and Myth Arc episodes were farmed out to the higher-end teams and saved the "C" team for stand-alone episodes of dubious quality. As a result, the quality of the animation in a given episode will often match the quality of the writing.
  • Another case of trope exploitation by show creators. In Dungeons & Dragons (1983), Executive Meddling made Eric the Cavalier the show's Butt-Monkey via enforcing The Complainer Is Always Wrong. The writers, including Gygax, didn't like that much, so they got sneaky. Clever fans, particularly ones familiar with the tabletop game, will notice quickly that while Eric is treated as wrong in-universe, his concerns and complaints are spot on due to the writers exploiting Strawman Has a Point.
  • King of the Hill exploited The Scapegoat. In "Bobby On Track", Hank makes Bobby complete the 5K run at the school track as punishment for not completing the Fun Run charity race. The track and field coach turns up and wants Bobby on his team, puzzling Hank. It turns out that the coach is using Bobby's lack of ability to motivate the rest of the team. The coach has Bobby substitute for a player that misbehaved to embarrass them so they try harder so they won't be humiliated by being replaced by Bobby. At first it works, to Hank's disappointment, with Bobby seeing himself as a motivator. But when the team gets to the final it works a little too well when a player hyper-extended because he saw the coach talking to Bobby and was afraid he was going to get replaced. The coach has no one to replace him to run the relay, until Hank suggests using Bobby. The coach is unhappy because this was a situation where losing would hurt the team this time. The coach tries to motivate Bobby by telling him to imagine himself as a different person, Bobby 2.0; Hank tells Bobby to forget that nonsense, just to try. Bobby understands, and joins the race. At first he loses the lead, but the other runners trip, allowing Bobby to catch up and run past them. When the other runners catch up to Bobby, he still runs as fast as he can and wins the race.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "A Dog and Pony Show", Rarity, discovers that the Diamond Dogs who kidnapped her find her complaining to be really irritating. So she purposefully takes it even further in order to invoke Pity the Kidnapper on them.
  • In Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension, Candace exploited her inability to bust her brothers to make sure Doof-2 didn't take over the Tri-state area.
  • In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "The Clock King", Temple Fugate is The Sociopath without any emotion, whose only interest in the world as a Schedule Fanatic are clocks and time: he timed a Time Bomb with a very expensive watch, has an Abandoned Warehouse with a Room Full of Crazy Clocks, and tries a Bank Robbery with a time lock. All those tropes were exploited to get Batman Lured into a Trap: Fugate knows about his obsession, instead of trying to stop it he uses it against his enemies. The real Evil Plan is to use the clock hands of a Clock Tower to crush someone to death.
  • In the Family Guy episode "Petarded", Peter, upon discovering that he's legally mentally retarded, exploits Disability as an Excuse for Jerkassery to do whatever he wants without punishment, doing such things as kicking open woman's bathroom stalls. This lasts until his attempt to steal a deep-fryer drenches Lois in boiling oil and lands her in the hospital, upon which Child Services deems Peter mentally unfit to be a parent and takes the kids away.
  • Tom and Jerry: A recurring theme in the shorts featuring Spike is that Jerry repeatedly exploits Selective Enforcement, knowing that even if Spike sees Jerry causing trouble with his own eyes, he will always single Tom out for the duo's antics.
  • Infinity Train exploited Mutually Unequal Relation. In the first episode of Season 3 The Musical Car, after raiding a musical cart, many of the young Apex kids offer items they took from the cart to their leaders Grace and Simon. Grace, who knows the children by name, acts like she has a special relationship with all of them, promising to cherish each item they bought her and store them in her special collection, while telling the child to keep it a secret from the other children that she's doing that. This is an act to make the children loyal to her, as once they leave, she discards the items without a care.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Squidward exploits Unsatisfiable Customer in "Krusty Towers". After Mr. Krabs turns the Krusty Krab into a luxury hotel, he forces Squidward to cater to Patrick's every whim, as their policy is "We shall never deny a guest even the most ridiculous request." Squidward eventually gets fed up and quits, only to immediately return as a guest and milk the policy for all it's worth to torment and spite Krabs.
  • Star Wars: The Bad Batch: Captain Bragg exploits 100% Adoration Rating by having the beloved Raxus senator Avi Singh endorse the imperial occupation of the planet. Unfortunately for her, after some indecision, Singh refuses to do so and instead riles up the populace more, but there's every indication the Empire's plan would've worked if he had cooperated.
    Other/Multiple Media 
  • In BIONICLE, Big Bad Makuta put the Physical God Mata Nui into an endless sleep, but he knows that heroes will wake him up again Because Destiny Says So. Rather than waste a ton of resources trying to stop the heroes, he arranges things so that he's in control of Mata Nui's body when it wakes.
  • Pink Means Feminine was exploited by making it the color for breast cancer awareness.

Alternative Title(s): Exploited