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Sister Trope

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Minidress of Powernote  and Sexy Santa Dressnote  are both skimpy dresses for Fanservice, but otherwise different purposes.

For the list of tropes about literal sisters and brothers, see Sibling Tropes.

What happens when The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry switches genders? Cain and Abel. What's the difference between The Scrappy and a Creator's Pet? Authors love their Pet. Is this introductory paragraph trying to explain by example a Xanatos Gambit or a Batman Gambit?

When defining a trope, it often helps to establish its similarities, differences and relationship to other tropes; a common convention on this site is to refer to some tropes as Sister Tropes.

When two or more tropes have some overlap in their descriptions, "parentage", or use, but not enough for one to be a Sub-Trope or Super-Trope of the other, these are called Sister Tropes. That is, both have a similar form or function, either by category (character, plot) or by effect (characterization) rendering them both similar but distinct enough to be considered sisters.

These are the four ways tropes can be sisters:

Sometimes when two distinct tropes serve almost exactly the same function or have very subtle differences in description, it can reach the point that they are used almost interchangeably. Bad Flanderization! Bad! The Canonical List of Subtle Trope Distinctions is your friend.


  • It is possible to juggle a Villain Ball, Idiot Ball, and Conflict Ball all at once. Idiot Ball doesn't necessarily make direct conflict, and Conflict Ball doesn't necessarily make idiocy. Thus they are related, but not really covered by the other. Villain Ball carrying may cause conflict aplenty, but it doesn't have to.
  • Big "NO!" and Chewing the Scenery (or Large Ham) can often overlap, but not always.
  • Impractically Fancy Outfit is a cause of the Ermine Cape Effect, but the latter trope is also responsible for the continued application of the former.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something and Lady of War occasionally overlap, as royalty is generally expected to look elegant at all times.
  • If a Lethal Chef prepares a meal for you, chances are It Tastes Like Feet.
  • Eldritch Abomination and Brown Note Being are sister tropes because they both cause a Brown Note. But they are different in scope and story purpose. A Brown Note Being is smaller in scope, a tough Monster of the Week, versus an unbeatable, god-league Eldritch Abomination who is often the Greater-Scope Villain. Brown Note Being is also for the cases when whatever is causing the Brown Note is unknown.
  • Escort Mission revolves around protecting a living character while taking them to a specific destination, while Product Delivery Ordeal is analogous to it in that it revolves around carrying or transporting an object to a destination while making sure it remains in one piece. However, both tropes differ greatly in terms of context and dynamic, especially when the escorted party is one with whom the main character interacts, thus intertwining with tropes based on bonding or affinity (which usually doesn't happen with an inanimate object... we think).
  • One Judge to Rule Them All and Golden Snitch are sister tropes, as both are about a single condition that renders all other factors in a contest irrelevant. However, they tend to affect the plot differently; for example, a judge who overrides all the others is obviously biased, whereas a Golden Snitch may simply be the result of poorly-thought-out rules and is less likely to trigger a backlash.
  • So are Gargle Blaster and Hideous Hangover Cure. One is the cause of hangovers, while the other is the cure, but both are absolutely outrageous.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Herod, your Genocide Backfired on us completely.
  • Human Shield and Bulletproof Human Shield both deal with bystanders being used to protect a target. The former discusses the psychological coverage, while the latter deals with physical protection.
  • Evil Twin, Evil Counterpart, Evil Knockoff, and Criminal Doppelgänger are all about evil duplicates of one person, but the evil persona in the individual tropes are an identical twin, a persona from an Alternate Universe, an intentionally created duplicate, and an Identical Stranger, respectively.
  • Descending Ceiling and The Walls Are Closing In are both Death Traps that threaten to squash/crush characters trapped in them, but have different parts of the room move to achieve this.
  • The Ace and Parody Sue are closely related concepts with different intentions and execution. Both are (usually) played for comedy, but while the former is an idealized character whose over-the-top nature is played for laughs, the latter is a Take That! against a fandom in general.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl and Shameless Fanservice Girl. Both are girls who have no nudity taboo. But one is aware of the existence of nudity taboos, and the other isn't. Both are also sisters to the Reluctant Fanservice Girl; while all three generally end up exposing a lot of skin, the first two do so willingly, while the last only does so because the Universe conspires to leave her naked at the worst times.
  • Badass Normal and Non-Powered Costumed Hero often overlap in certain contexts (most importantly probably the person of Batman), even though the only thing they conceptually have in common is having no superpowers.
  • Xanatos Gambit and Batman Gambit are both schemes to achieve benefit but they are executed differently. The Batman Gambit is based on Flaw Exploitation and/or what a given mark is most likely to do. Thus, it will fail if the mark doesn't behave as predicted. The Xanatos Gambit is based on Morton's Fork: it can succeed no matter which prong the mark is impaled on. The benefits may be completely unrelated or they may be different paths to the same goal as long as every reasonable outcome benefits the planner in some what.
  • Unnecessarily Large Vessel regularly goes hand-in-hand with Starship Luxurious. The main distinction is that Starship Luxurious refers to the spaces inside the ship being much larger and fancier than is strictly necessary, while Unnecessarily Large Vessel refers to the ship itself being bigger than it needs to be.
  • Boarding Pods and Drop Pods are both for getting troops from a ship to a target in a surprising fashion. The difference is the target: drop pods are launched onto a planet surface as a futuristic version of It's Raining Men, while boarding pods are fired at other ships or at stations to deploy a Boarding Party. Both also share a link with Escape Pods in that all three are used to get from one place to another in a hurry; however, Escape Pods are primarily used to take people away from dangerous places, while the former two put them in harm's way.
  • Passed in Their Sleep and Slain in Their Sleep.note  Both deal with death by sleep, but while Passed in Their Sleep is more peaceful, Slain in Their Sleep...well...
  • "Why Are You Looking at Me Like That?" "Because you just Got Volunteered."
  • A victor indulging in Unsportsmanlike Gloating and the defeated party being a Sore Loser are diametric opposite responses based on whether one is victorious or defeated. They are also often conjoined, in that it's very likely for a Unsportsmanlike Gloater in victory to be a Sore Loser in defeat.
  • The Green Hill Zone and Palmtree Panic levels are similar because they are greeny, tropical stages commonly designed and used as the first level in Video Games, platformers most especially, due to their non-threatening geography and easy-going design. The Green Hill Zone is more inland and varied with plains, prairies, hills, and even some trees and caves. While Green Hill Zone can have tropical elements, what distinguishes a Palmtree Panic is the strictly tropical setting, with beaches, dunes, and lots more sand and water to go around. Green Hill Zone's other sister The Lost Woods is strictly a forest setting.
  • A King on His Deathbed is the perfect opportunity for a Decadent Court to ramp up its scheming, which may end up provoking a Succession Crisis.
  • Platonic Life-Partners and Heterosexual Life-Partners are essentially the same trope, differing only based on whether the characters involved are the same or the opposite sex.
  • Big Boo's Haunt and Bleak Level are two video game settings that are dark, gloomy and creepy, and have much overlap. A Bleak Level can have Big Boos Haunt elements and vice-versa, but what distinguishes the two is that a Big Boo's Haunt is strictly haunted (by the Undead or Ghosts or whatever) and can be upbeat (in a twisted thrill sort of way). A Bleak Level is never upbeat and is meant to be depressing and unsettling in sharp contrast in tone to the rest of the game, hence its name.
  • Age Cut and Picture-Perfect Presentation are both scene transitions commonly used with dissolves: Age Cut cuts to an older version of a character, while Picture-Perfect Presentation fades from an image of a location to a shot of the location itself.
  • Rhyme Theme Naming and Rhyming Names are both naming conventions that use rhymes, but the former is for group/ensembles, while the latter is for individual characters. Of course, the two can overlap when family members that employ Rhyme Theme Naming are given a rhyming family name as well. Rhyme Theme Naming also frequently overlaps with Family Theme Naming, Theme Twin Naming and, to a lesser extent, Couple Theme Naming.
  • Many tropes regarding video game levels are functionally analogous and equivalent to tropes regarding video game bosses: Mini-Dungeon and Mini-Boss (a piece of gameplay material with a lower hierarchy than a main dungeon and a main boss respectively), Disc-One Final Dungeon and Disc-One Final Boss (a plot-critical piece of gameplay material disguised as the game's finale), All the Worlds Are a Stage and Final-Exam Boss (a piece of gameplay material that evokes what was seen over the course of the game), Nostalgia Level and Legacy Boss Battle (a piece of gameplay material brought back from a previous game), Bonus Dungeon and Superboss (optional, very challenging pieces of gameplay material), etc.
  • Death by Adaptation and Dies Differently in Adaptation sound very similar to each other, as they are tropes centered around character deaths. Death By Adaptation occurs when a character who originally stays alive in a story dies in an adaptation, or the time of their death in the story is altered from the original. When a character Dies Differently In Adaptation, the means in which they die is different. In the original story the character may be run over by a bus. But in The Movie, they may die in a plane crash instead.
  • SNK Boss and That One Boss are tropes centered around difficult and frustrating bosses. There is a slight, but distinct difference between them. What makes an SNK Boss difficult is that it's only difficult by deliberately breaking the game rules, and is usually reserved for the final guy in Fighting games. While a That One Boss is difficult, its more fair and can be reserved for any boss in the game.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy and Prized Possession Giveaway both revolve around a character having a strong, positive affinity for an entity for which or whom another character has the same positive affinity, but in an act of selflessness and altruism decides eventually to leave that second person consumate their happiness with that entity. In the former's case, we have a person having romantic feelings towards another, but since that love interest is likely attracted towards someone else then the person will wish happiness to that couple while moving on. In the latter's case, the person is very fond of a material object they have, but is willing to deliver it to someone else, probably a person they similarly hold dearly and want to make them happy by letting them keep this valued object. Though not without difficulty, it's possible to make both tropes overlap.
  • Both Left the Background Music On and Diegetic Visual Effects are metafictional gags in which seemingly diegetic effects are revealed to be a part of the work's setting—only one is for sound, the other is for visual effects.
  • Badass Longcoat, Scarf of Asskicking, Badasses Wear Bandanas, Sleeves Are for Wimps and Tough Spikes and Studs are about typical clothing choices for badass characters.
  • Tea and wine are beverages commonly used to indicate wealth and prestige. A particularly posh characters might have a taste for both.
  • Romantic Candlelit Dinner and Breakfast in Bed are both meals that define some aspect of love but enjoyed at different times of the day.
  • Control Room Puzzle and Toggling Setpiece Puzzle both revolve around triggering mechanisms in video game levels by pressing switches, often to solve a puzzle or tackle an obstacle. However, the former is based on sequential presses to activate a single mechanism (and their effect is often confined to a room or area, hence its trope name), while the latter allows the player to change the states of several mechanisms by pressing any button that is connected to them (and the effect is often global for the entire level).
  • No-Harm Requirement often invokes To Win Without Fighting since adhering to a particular No Harm Requirement often means the characters can't use any directly violent tactics at all and thus have to find a way To Win Without Fighting.