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When picking an image for a trope, it is possible that the image is not actually an example of the trope. And in several cases, this is perfectly fine.

Most importantly, readers are assumed to be unfamiliar with whatever work the image is from. That means that if a picture looks like a good example, but fans of the work know it is technically not, or it gets retconned or subverted later in the work; then it can still be a good image! The reverse is also true; if an image requires knowledge of the work to understand it in the first place, then it is usually a poor choice.


For instance, if in issue 4 of a comic, Repus Oreh dies on-panel; then in issue 7 it is revealed that this was actually a hologram made by his mad scientist friend, then panels from issue 4 can still serve as an image for Death Tropes. Although fans of the comic know that he didn't actually die in that scene, most tropers or readers will not know, and need not know.

There are some other cases where the images doesn't portray the trope. Sometimes the image is a Visual Pun or other joke. Other times the trope is too NSFW to portray normally. Other times it's a trope involving plot or characterization that's hard to portray in a picture. Numerous examples are listed below.

This doesn't refer to images that are poor quality, or which barely represent the trope. If the image is completely inaccurate, you should go to the Image Pickin' forum. All the images here are deliberate examples.


Don't confuse this with The Treachery of Images. In many ways, this is the opposite of Just a Face and a Caption.

Finally, if an image is technically not an example, please resist the urge to point out on the page (or even worse, in the image caption) that it doesn't "actually" illustrate the trope. If you believe some image is bad, take it to the Image Pickin' forum; don't write underneath that it's a bad image.

See also, This Index Is Not an Example, for Trope Namers.



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    Visual Puns 
  • Accentuate the Negative: A diacritic above a film negative. The caption complaining about the Visual Pun is an example, however.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: It's a picture of a large cock. "Cock" being the other word for roosters, mind you.
  • Black Is Bigger in Bed: A straight example is blacklisted thanks to the Content Policy, so we have a black obelisk being bigger instead.
  • Blaming "The Man": The image is of a character literally named The Man, rather than the ambiguous authority figure referenced by the trope.
  • Camera Tricks shows a camera juggling chainsaws, not creative ways of manipulating the camera or viewing frame in media.
  • Canon: A giant cannonnote , not something that counts in a work's continuity.
  • Cold Sniper: A sniper in the cold, not an emotionally distant sniper.
  • Complete Monster: A complete pack of Monster energy drink, not a heinous villain with no redeeming qualities.
  • Dethroning Moment of Suck: Has a picture of a castle on fire, not the worst moment of a work.note 
  • Dead Horse Trope: Literally beating a dead horse is not a tropenote , just a punny illustration of the phrase from which this form of Playing with a Trope derives its name.
  • Dead Unicorn Trope: Actual dead unicorns aren't tropes at all, much less ones that got widely parodied despite never having been played straight.
  • TropeCo.Flying Brick: A real flying brick is a Superhero that combines Flight with Super Strength, not an actual brick with wings.
  • Glass Cannon: A literal glass cannon image because you can't really represent someone having strong attack powers and weak defense powers with a single image.
  • Going Cold Turkey: An image of a turkey in the snow, not an attempt at avoiding an addiction.
  • Hardcore: Instead of something extreme or intense, it's a picture of an avocado core that is impossible to cut.
  • Hentai: As actual pictures of hentai are a no-no, the image is a picture of a hen wearing a necktie.
  • The Internet: As the concept is impossible to illustrate properly, the image is a wall of stacked cylinders as a reference to the Internet being described as a series of tubes.
  • The Internet Is for Cats: The trope is about cat-themed content on the internet, not about cats browsing the internet.
  • It Tastes Like Feet: Depicts someone eating a literal foot, instead of comparing a food's unpalatability with something no sane person would have eaten/tasted.
  • Kangaroo Court: A kangaroo as a judge presiding over a courtroom. As the trope refers to unfair judicial processes, there is no way to show it literally that would not just look like a courtroom.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: The trope is about a cynical hero. The picture is a knight figure crafted from lemons (thus wearing actual sour armor).
  • Kudzu Plot: It's an actual picture of the Kudzu plant, not a plot that doesn't resolve its questions.
  • LEGO Genetics: The trope is about the simplified nature of genetics in media, while the image is a LEGO replica of a DNA strand.
  • Locked Pages: The image is a giant padlock, not a page that is locked.
  • Magnificent Bastard: There is an image of a bastard sword on the page. The trope is actually about a charming schemer who thinks on their feet.
  • Mauve Shirt: Just a mauve shirt with nobody wearing it, not a Red Shirt with enough characterization to make them stand out.
  • Necessary Weasel: Shows an actual weasel, not an illogical trope considered vital to a genre.
  • Paper Tiger: Shows a game card with an actual tiger made of paper, not someone who is proven to be weaker than first looks would hint at.
  • Permanent Red Link Club: A picture of Link in red clothes, not a page this wiki has purged forever (besides, that would kind of defeat the purpose of the club).
  • Power: Usually does not involve a button that turns something on or off.
  • Purple Prose: An image of a purple feather quill, as opposed to an excessive use of florid, nigh-indecipherable writing.
  • Put on a Bus: Being written out of the show without being killed off usually does not involve an actual bus.
    • The Bus Came Back: Likewise, returning to a show doesn't typically involve departing from an actual bus.
    • Bus Crash: Offscreen deaths do not normally involve a literal bus crash.
    • Long Bus Trip: It's about characters who depart the show for long stretches of time, not lengthy buses.
    • Put on a Bus to Hell: It's about being written out of the show in an especially mean-spirited way, not about taking an actual bus to Hell.
    • Put on a Prison Bus: It's about characters being written out of a story by being arrested, and doesn't necessarily involve an actual prison bus.
  • Sacred Cow: An actual sacred cow, not a work that no one dares criticize.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: It's literally "(an) old hat", not something that was once considered trendsetting before it loses that appeal after being imitated so often.
  • Sinkhole: Shows cars collapsing into a hole on a street, rather than a misused Pot Hole.
  • Sock Puppet: Sockpuppet accounts on forums and wikis are usually not controlled by actual sockpuppets.
  • Sour Grapes Tropes: The index is about tropes demonstrating that what you desire doesn't always turn out well. The image is a literal picture of grapes.
  • Square Peg, Round Trope: Since it's impossible to actually illustrate trope misuse without using a lot of text, the image just shows a square peg being pushed into a round hole.
  • Straw Fan: A hand fan made of straw instead of how the makers of a work view the Unpleasable Fanbase.
  • Teeny Weenie: Since a straight example would be NSFW, the image is of some miniature hot dogs instead.
  • Übermensch: A joke based on Friedrich Nietzsche's memetic appearance and Superman's transhuman nature. The canonical Superman follows a conventional good/evil morality, he does not transcend societal norms to create his own.
  • Undead Horse Trope: A skeletal horse isn't really a trope, much less one that's seen as clichéd to the point of frequent parody but somehow without the death of straight examples. Though it might fall under Horse of a Different Color.
  • Walking Spoiler: Jason Fox's costume will spoil the heck out of the other characters, sure, but FoxTrot is too light on plot to have any characters that would spoil it.
  • The War on Straw: It's a picture of a literal strawman. The Strawmen referred to in the trope are fallacious arguments or stereotypes made to make the Author Tract look better in comparison.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: It's a picture of a mouse, not a plot point that isn't resolved.
  • Writer's Block: It's a block that you put on your desk and you can't write anymore! least according to Calvin. The actual trope is about the phenomenon where writers can't think of material.

    Not Really an Example 
They might look like an example at first glance, but they really don't fit.

These images aren't played seriously. Instead, they come from parodies.

These images might have qualified at one point, but not another. It might be a case of Subverted Trope, Depending on the Writer, or Zig-Zagging Trope.