Sour Grapes Tropes are tropes that exist to convince the viewer that not only is it unlikely that their dreams and fantasies will come true, but it's probably better if they don't. This is done by showing how a character is made miserable when getting their wishes fulfilled.
Stories that don't do this are Wish-Fulfillment fantasies, not that there's anything wrong with that. Fiction has been providing wish fulfillment for centuries. Contemporary fiction, though, often comes off as somehow obliged to show the downside of a desire. Not doing so might be seen as "juvenile." Ironically, Sour Grapes Tropes tend to indulge in their own backhanded brand of Wish-Fulfillment; these tropes are often used to assuage an audience's discomfort and envy seeing a more ambitious or intelligent or lucky character at succeeding in a way that the viewers can't by showing the 'bad' side of their success. See Nietzsche's remarks on ''slave morality'' for the intellectual impulse behind many of the usages of these tropes.
The Trope Namer is the classic Beast Fable "The Fox and the Grapes." In the story, a hungry fox tries and fails to reach some grapes that grow high above him from the grapevine, growing increasingly frustrated until he gives up. As he leaves, the fox convinces himself that the grapes were sour (meaning unripe) all along and thus not worth his time, even though he had no way of knowing if the grapes were truly sour, in an attempt to relieve his own frustration and make himself feel better. This is where the term "sour grapes" comes from, which is used to refer to the attitude of disparaging something purely because one cannot have it themselves. Said attitude is what underlies many of the tropes listed below, as they all involve fantastic, desirable situations or traits that both the creator and audience have no way of experiencing for themselves.
Contrast Sweet and Sour Grapes.
- Anti-Intellectualism: For when knowledge and education are undesirable.
- Age Without Youth: You gain immortality but you still grow older until you're too decrepit to function anymore, then you'll be praying for death.
- Ambition Is Evil: Trying to make your wishes come true will turn you to the dark side.
- Attractiveness Discrimination: Your looks will get you discriminated against regardless if you're gorgeous or butt ugly.
- Beauty Is Bad: Being beautiful will make you a bad person.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Your wish coming true could spell disaster.
- Best of All Possible Worlds: Attempts to improve your reality creates more problems.
- Beware the Superman: Superpowers bring about disaster rather than justice and order.
- Blessed with Suck: This awesome gift will only worsen your life.
- Brainless Beauty: If beauty doesn't make you bad, it'll only make you stupid.
- Butterfly of Doom: Changing anything in the past, no matter how small, will create a Bad Future.
- Came Back Wrong: You brought your beloved back from the dead... except they're no longer the same person you knew.
- Celebrity Is Overrated: Fame isn't all it's cracked up to be.
- Comes Great Responsibility: When you have super powers, using them for anything other than helping others never works out.
- Compensating for Something: When the use of Bigger Is Better reveals insecurity about a certain "aspect" of your body.
- Death Takes a Holiday: Turns out death is a necessary evil.
- Deconstruction: The whole purpose of this story is to show how your desires coming true would play out in real life.
- Dreaded Kids' Table: It's better to savor your youth instead of trying to grow up too quickly.
- Dumb Is Good: It's better to remain a simpleton since intelligence makes you a Jerkass.
- Evil Luddite: Trying to remove "evil technology" makes you the evil one.
- "Flowers for Algernon" Syndrome: The improvements you obtain will eventually be reverted, sometimes for the best.
- God for a Day: Status as a deity proves to be too much responsibility and absolute power corrupts.
- Good Needs Evil: If you remove evil then how can we know what good is?
- Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: Trying to go back in time to prevent a tragedy from happening proves to make things worse.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Special powers prove to be too overwhelming to deal with.
- Immortal Procreation Clause: Obtaining immortality strips you of your fertility.
- Immortality Immorality: Obtaining immortality requires resorting to unethical means to achieve it.
- Intelligence Equals Isolation: If you're smarter than your peers, nobody will want to be around you.
- In with the In Crowd: If you win the approval of the popular crowd, you'll lose old friends and become a Jerkass.
- Lonely at the Top: Obtaining money and power will cost you the love of your old friends.
- Midas Touch: A character gains the ability to turn anything into something of superficial value just by touching it, but the drawbacks of the power soon manifest.
- A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: The ability to read minds is better left unused since it leads you to learn some dark secrets.
- Misery Builds Character: It's better for you to obtain success through suffering rather having it easy.
- Muscles Are Meaningless: Having big muscles won't make you strong.
- Necessary Fail: That embarrassing blunder you committed or that horrific tragedy that happened is needed for something good to happen.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: When trying to be a Good Samaritan gets you into trouble.
- Not Quite Forever: Wanting something to last forever is just never so.
- Obsessively Normal: The desire to be normal may cause you to mistreat/hate all who don't conform to your idea of normalcy.
- The Perils of Being the Best: Being The Ace has many prices to pay.
- Popular Is Dumb: Once you're popular with your peers, your IQ will decrease.
- Popular Is Evil: Popularity corrupts people, so its better to be a loser.
- Power at a Price: Use of superpowers requires having to sacrifice something in exchange.
- Prescience Is Predictable: Knowing what's gonna happen in the future makes life boring.
- Prestige Peril: Positions of privilege put your life in danger (or at least make it miserable).
- Pygmalion Snap Back: It's not a good idea to change a person into something they're not.
- So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Being beautiful causes you misery.
- Vengeance Feels Empty: Getting your revenge makes your life feel meaningless.
- Victory Is Boring: A character succeeds, but doesn't know what to do afterwards.
- Volatile Second Tier Position: Turns out that prestigious second-from-the-top job you wanted is worse than any other in the workplace.
- Wanting Is Better Than Having: Once you've gotten all that you've wanted, life becomes boring and unrewarding.
- We Want Our Idiot Back!: The characters want an idiot among their group to be back.
- We Want Our Jerk Back!: The Jerkass character proves to be worse off when nice than when an asshole.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: Immortality has boring as well as heartbreaking consequences to it.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: Don't expect to permanently keep your good fortune, you won't have it for very long.