Video killed the radio star
In my mind and in my car
We can't rewind, we've gone too far
Pictures came and broke your heart
Put down the blame on VTR"
A Trope Breaker is a change in cultural context, such as a change in customs or mores, or an advance in technology, which renders some well-loved trope moot in contemporary storylines, at least in certain parts of the world. Hollywood usually responds to Trope Breakers sluggishly and clings to broken tropes via lame, sometimes outright bizarre justifications. Sometimes a Trope Breaker is just flat-out ignored, leading to lots of Fridge Logic.
Contrast Deconstruction, where a trope stops being used because a particular work takes the trope to its logical conclusion. Deconstructions are works specifically aiming at tropes, while Trope Breakers are real-life societal developments that have Tropes as collateral damage. Also contrast Evolving Trope, where a trope changes with the times instead of being broken.
- Modern-day smartphones are Trope Breakers for people using paper maps and stopping to ask for directions, as many smartphones today come with internet and GPS and with apps such as Google Maps to quickly plug an address and get turn by turn directions where to go. Of course, there are a number of reasons why someone might use an old-fashioned map or ask for directions instead:
- The directions on your smartphone are unclear.
- There's no cell signal at your location, though GPS apps have added the ability to download maps for offline access to mitigate this.
- The batteries in your smartphone are dead and you have no way of charging it, such as an outlet, a cable or a power bank.
- You simply don't have a smartphone.
- You have a smartphone, but you're out for the day and forgot to bring it with you, or you couldn't find it before you had to go.
- You're one of the many people who don't trust GPS directions, which are often quite stupid compared with what a local will tell you.
- The GPS directions are out of date, incorrect, or citing streets that aren't there (all three of which are plausible). And as noted below, some wilderness areas HAVE no proper "locations" to pinpoint where you are. Many larger parks/reserves just give a basic note of "You are in [X Location]," when the whole area could span several to HUNDREDS of miles. This limitation can be overcome by using a service such as What 3 words that pinpoints an exact location to within ten feet.
- You can recall what your destination looks like (e.g. "the yellow house between two red ones"), but not what it's called or what the street address is.
- Paper (actually plastic) maps remain in widespread use by hikers and mountaineers, who regularly go off-grid for extended periods - to say nothing of the fact that online maps are usually inferior to printed maps by many orders of magnitude when it comes to terrain and trail detail.
- Cell phones are a Trope Breaker for tropes involving payphones and phone booths, as well as many other tropes. Dead zones are also far more coincidentally (in)convenient in fiction — especially slasher films — than one would expect in the real world, as though the cellular phone is powered by the same thing running the Millennium Falcon... (See Cell Phones Are Useless.) Many related tropes now come through other means, like a character's particular habits involving their cell phone (or lack of one). The film Phone Booth was in Development Hell for so long that phone booths were no longer relevant by the time it was finally made, so the writers had to jump through a few hoops to explain why the main character would be using one. Like with the map example above, however, there are a few possible justifications.
- Mr. Important doesn't want to be reached.
- The phone itself gets broken, lost somehow, or has a dead battery.
- The party who might otherwise benefit from having one is a fugitive, so disposes of the phone to avoid being tracked electronically.
- Caller ID had multiple effects on phone-related fiction.
- It largely broke the stock plot of a person pretending to be calling from a place where he is not (though cell phones can sometimes help it work anyway). There are other ways to mask the number from which you're calling, as well as a way to block all calls from a caller who blocked their caller ID, but these never come up in the shows themselves. This example is lampshaded in a few works:
- The frat-punk band blink-182 lampshades it in "What's My Age Again?", where the narrator's prank call is defeated by caller ID.
- In Chopping Block, Butch's attempt to replicate When a Stranger Calls fails thanks to caller ID.
- In Scream 2, of the first scenes features a dumbass trying to prank call Sidney and claiming to be Ghostface; she looks at the caller ID and tells him off. It's actually been said that the first film triggered a threefold spike in the adoption of caller ID systems.
- Caller ID is also a trope breaker for the Prank Call. The whole idea of making a prank call was that it was easy to get away with because the victim didn't know who was calling. Nowadays, with caller ID becoming ubiquitous, it's all but impossible for someone to not know where you're calling from. Works that still use this either are set before 1998 or so (when caller ID first began to get widespread use), or done as a way to show how out of touch with current tech a character is.
- Caller ID also helped break the Phone-Trace Race. In the '70s and '80s, "tracing a call" meant going through a lot of switches and trying to trace it back over mechanical hardware. However, as the landline phone system became computerized in The Oughties and The New '10s, and accurate location information became critical for 911 and similar emergency-call systems, caller ID became more or less standard and now any landline phone call includes information on both the number calling and its location.
- It largely broke the stock plot of a person pretending to be calling from a place where he is not (though cell phones can sometimes help it work anyway). There are other ways to mask the number from which you're calling, as well as a way to block all calls from a caller who blocked their caller ID, but these never come up in the shows themselves. This example is lampshaded in a few works:
- The spread of cellphones both helped break the Phone-Trace Race and revived it in a new form.
- Since 2011, all cellphones sold in the United States have had to incorporate some sort of rapid location-finding technology, whether GPS or some kind of network-based algorithm. Either method can rapidly find a cellphone to within fifty meters, and usually closer than that. note
- Since smartphones with Internet connections became widespread, it's possible to program a smartphone to use VOIPnote together with some form of privacy software such as a VPNnote to mask your location. The call can still be traced, but it takes a lot longer, and a short call may not provide enough time to complete the trace.
- The ubiquity of cell phones killed Landline Eavesdropping. After the advent of cell phones, having a landline at home at all became rarer and rarer, and virtually nobody has more than one handset, so it's no longer possible to eavesdrop on someone's conversations using a second handset. The rough equivalent is going through someone's text messages, but that's more difficult with passwords on smartphones.
- Portable computers, smartphones, and tablets are the Trope Breakers for String-on-Finger Reminder. Users can type the actual thing they need to remember instead of having to associate a string (which can mean anything) with the memory, personal devices can serve functions besides just giving oneself a vague reminder, and modern day people are generally expected to have that kind of device at all times anyway.
- Pocket Dial was pretty much killed off by the advent of smartphones that do away with physical buttons aside from those for volume control and power in favor of touchscreens that cover the entire face of the phone. Said touchscreens are capacitive, and as such require contact with a living human's skin or specialized styluses to operate, and the fabric of clothing pockets is often thick enough that it will prevent accidental input. Furthermore, these touchscreens will not register any input as long as the phone is in sleep mode, making it further unlikely that you'll butt-dial someone.
- DNA testing is a major Trope Breaker for Soap Opera paternity plots. In addition to its potential effects on Luke, You Are My Father and Mysterious Parent plots, it could be able to identify many Unknown Assailants. Instead, it has spawned a wealth of new justifying tropes such as the Laboratory Subversion, the Sample Subversion, and the Concealed Test Result.note
- The Scottish film Young Adam (set in 1954) was made in the early 21st century, but had to be set several decades earlier so that DNA testing would not be a plot option. When a drowned woman is discovered to have been pregnant when she died, the last man known to have dated her is charged with her murder (and unjustly convicted) on the grounds that he had impregnated her and didn't want to marry her. DNA testing would have established that he was not the child's father.
- Any uses of Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe can be broken by DNA testing, as long as the possible fathers aren't identical twins. Also, the writer could have Shown Their Work and made the father a genetic mosaic at the germ line, which can render paternity tests inaccurate. Although the inaccuracy in the paternity test caused by germline mosaicism only applies if the result is negative. Paternity would be confirmed if the result is positive, because although the man with genetic mosaic has two or more genetically different cell lines, if one of these is compatible with the child then the man has to be his father (unless the man has an identical twin). However, they have to stop showing their work some time before they let the cat out of the bag that genetic mosaicism is associated with male infertility... so it's not likely in the first place, and if you do have it, odds are you're infertile anyway. (It can still work for sexual-assailant ID plots.)
- The many, many fictional works in which the Grand Duchess Anastasia somehow survives the Russian Revolution became Dated History in 2007, when DNA testing proved that she was executed along with the rest of her family. The trope is living on, but it's now limited to works which are playing fast and loose with history anyway.
- Less-lethal weapons are a Trope Breaker for police and crime dramas but not police documentaries. Lampshaded by Police, Camera, Action! in the episode "Less Lethal Weapons" in 2007. This is typically just plain ignored: When was the last time you saw anyone hit with a taser or pepper spray on a cop show? It's still mostly guns and a few clubs in this world. Interestingly, CSI manages to make the pepper spray and taser combo have lethal consequences in one episode due to a series of extenuating circumstances. Jamie and Adam of the MythBusters were guests on that episode and would eventually examine this on their show, finding that - with the right brand of pepper spray, the right kind of taser, and the right fabric - it's possible to set someone's clothes on fire with this combination of less-lethal weapons. On what actually happened in real life, a combination of tear gas and taser actually set someone on fire.
It's also a point that in real life, police will never taser a perp holding a gun (the twitching would cause them to pull the trigger), so more often than not, this is justified. Incapacitant sprays also have their own drawbacks; in an enclosed space or if the wind is blowing the wrong way, an incautious cop can find himself Hoist by His Own Petard, and some of them carry a non-trivial risk of doing more harm than a well-placed whack from a baton.
- The Musketeer pretty much became the Spiritual Successor to the Knight in Shining Armor. Several factors include: Adam Smith Hates Your Guts, where to be a knight you needed to be wealthy to afford and maintain your very expensive and heavy suit of armor and your warhorses whenever you go into battle. Knight charges were also easily countered by newer military tactics like pike and shot or Hit-and-Run Tactics. And last but not least, as time went on, firearms became more accurate with greater muzzle velocity, making armor useless. However, France's Musketeers of the Guard were not all that different from their knight counterpart. Like knights, the Musketeers were also from the nobility, had to pay for their own equipment and were the special forces during their time.
- The simplification of women's hairstyles since the 1990s (actually since the '70s for that matter) has been a pretty serious Trope Breaker for the Beehive Hairdo, Elderly Blue-Haired Lady, '80s Hair (even if it has seen a revival in the 2010s), and other overelaborated hairstyles. When was the last time you saw any woman with a beehive hairdo in real life? Other than Amy Winehouse, that is. Indeed, the lampshading of beehive poster girl Marge Simpson is constant — but the hairdo is still used as a trope, implying a lot about Marge's character.
- This also ended decades of comedic situations involving women spending the better part of the day at the beauty parlor, being since replaced by an hour or so at the hairdresser followed by much longer tanning or waxing sessions.
- The growing awareness of harmful substances like CFC's that tear up the ozone layer and the Montreal Protocol signed in 1987, which regulates and phases out those harmful substances worldwide, also helped break off the big hair trend.
- Greater awareness of psychological abuse and its effects during the 2010s has pretty much killed the sympathetic portrayal of the Dogged Nice Guy (although this trope had been deconstructed since the 90s in works such as Friends), as well as the Dysfunctional Family as a sitcom staple.
- Aside from some grandfathered Long-Runners like One Piece, the filler episode in anime, along with Overtook the Manga, has gone the way of the dodo, as starting in The New '10s, rather than anime adaptations being continuous long runners, more and more anime is done by the season, with breaks in between so the manga can catch up.
- The digital camera breaks many photography tropes, some of which are still seen once in a while. What's a "Polaroid" again? Since memory card manufacturers are continually making it cost less to store more, who "runs out of film" or "out of memory" when shooting stills? Heck, when was the last time you saw a still picture in black and white outside a newspaper for other than artistic reasons? So much for the sort of spy caper where the MacGuffin is "the negatives" of something incriminating (although this one got replaced by "Zoom zoom enhance enhance"). Polaroid also now makes digital Instamatic-type cameras, allowing you to take as many pictures as you want and just print certain ones out. On the other hand, "out of film" and "out of memory" are being replaced by "battery ran out", which has the same effect and is more believable. However, with scientists having prototype batteries that can be charged in 10 seconds, this too may soon be broken. All this being said, many older users of digital technology still use the older terms, even if they are no longer accurate.
Several tabletop games involving vampires in the Urban Fantasy setting have had to make note that most digital cameras don't work by way of reflections, and therefore will capture a vampire on film. This presents many problems for game masters who place an emphasis on stories involving a Masquerade, The World of Darkness in particular. This bleeds into Trope Breaker territory quite often, but just as often subverts it, since traditional cameras do work by way of reflection, and any Period Piece vampire campaign since digital media became the norm has had to pay more attention to the lack of digital photography. This may be one of the few cases of a Trope Breaker that operates solely on Fridge Logic. A few films have made note of this phenomenon, but the simple application of Our Vampires Are Different usually sweeps it under the rug.
Note that most film cameras don't work by way of reflections either: The usual handwave was that "Film is based on silver, like a mirror. Vampires don't appear in mirrors and so don't appear on film, either." On the other hand, "reflex" cameras (film or digital) have viewfinders that work by reflection, with a direct path through the lens to the film or digital sensor. So non-reflective vampires will be invisible in the viewfinder but may be visible in the photo.
Further complicating things is the recent proliferation of cell phone cameras and mirrorless cameras which do not have reflection-based viewfinders at all so they would see vampires normally. Digital reflex cameras also have a screen that can be used as a viewfinder so a clever vampire hunter could easily spot vampires with them by switching between the two modes on their camera.
- The increasing social awareness and acceptance of single mothers and out-of-wedlock births have made tropes like Stigmatic Pregnancy Euphemism acceptable and believable only when stories are set in the distant past, or under very restricting types of characters. This is more obvious in soap operas produced in South America since single motherhood and absent fathers are so widespread there that few people can understand the drama in that. On the other hand, this largely applies to the Western world only. Single motherhood and out-of-wedlock births continue to be unacceptable in polite society in many Islamic and East Asian countries.
- The fact that single parenthood became practically a non-issue by the late 1990s also killed off a wave of films specifically aimed at single-parent children.
- The Civil Rights Movement can be credited with helping eliminate egregious forms of the Ethnic Scrappy, along with many other sad and offensive ethnic tropes. On the other hand, other less-offensive but still Unfortunately Implying tropes such as the Token Minority and Token Black Friend gained prominence in attempts to be politically correct. Also, Jive Turkey and the use of the N-word to be "edgy" seem to have only increased since the 1960s.
- Certain Stock Jokes are rendered broken by technology, such as GPS doing away with the "man never asking for directions" joke. Commercials for Tom-Tom have put a new spin on it, though, having guys ask "Mom-Mom" or "Doug-Doug" for directions instead of getting a Tom-Tom.
- Tropes affected by the end of the Cold War:
- The entire Spy Fiction genre: The War on Terror just isn't the same. No more high-tech heroes fighting high-tech enemies. No more mysterious, alluring women with Slavic accents!
- Dirty Communists: Obviously. In addition to the USSR and its satellites collapsing, the few communist states that avoided collapse (most prominently China) transitioned to market economies in the eighties and nineties. However, Red Scare paranoia can be replaced with Islamic terrorism paranoia in a pinch. See Mistaken for Terrorist. And this has come back somewhat in recent years with tensions with North Korea and China.
- A Nuclear Error: Still possible, but doesn't have the punch it used to. China and North Korea might be substituted for Russia nowadays, and the latter might in turn be substituted for the former. This would really only work if North Korea were portrayed as much more powerful than it really is, but Hollywood doesn't seem to have a problem with that.
- Commie Land: Well, there's still Cuba and North Korea. (The Korean DMZ can replace the Iron Curtain.) And kinda-sorta-not-really China, Vietnam, and Laos. Belarus has the traditional flavor of this trope, even if it's not officially communist anymore. Defector from Commie Land is still possible with Cuba, North Korea, and maybe China as the source of the defector, but much less common without the Cold War to drive things. It doesn't help that, aside from Cuba, the remaining officially Communist countries are located in Asia, making it difficult to use this trope without unintentionally invoking Yellow Peril undertones, especially since China has become a major market for Hollywood movies in the 21st century.
- Russian Reversal: Should be broken, but isn't for some reason.note
- Any Enemy Mine plot where Americans and Soviets have to work together against a common enemy. So far, no War on Terror equivalent has sprung up, since a terrorist is a Villain by Default, while Illya Kuryakin is just a guy on the other side.
- Generally, any plot in which Eagleland has an equal Worthy Opponent. China is the most obvious replacement, but you better not make them look too bad or your movie will get Banned in China, and that's a pretty lucrative market.
- Soviet Superscience: The poor state of the Post-Soviet military put a nail in this trope's plausibility. A workaround was to have the science be an abandoned Soviet weapons project that the villains find and put into use. With the decades passing since the Soviets' demise, however, this is quickly becoming a Forgotten Trope outside Alternate Histories.
- Renegade Russian and Make the Bear Angry Again sprang up as excuses to make Cold War tropes usable again, but they too have become fairly antiquated. Nowadays, writers wanting to use Cold War tropes usually go the Period Piece route.
- However, much of this seems to be reversing as of the early-2020s; Russian oligarchs funding PACs, Russian "troll farms" spreading propaganda on social media websites, and the 2022 invasion of Ukraine by Russia might signal a rebirth of some of these tropes. Russia can plausibly be treated as an antagonist power once again.
- Regarding Japan:
- The economic rise of the country in the 1970s and 80s killed off the stereotype that Japan produces inferior technology (e.g., Miles Monroe shouting "Goddamn Japanese model!" in Sleeper). Lampshaded in Back to the Future Part III, where Doc jokes with Marty that it's no wonder a circuit failed because it was made in Japan, and Marty replies that as far as he knows, "all the best stuff is made in Japan."
- However, the idea of Japan Takes Over the World was in turn killed off by the economic crash in the 1990s; although Japan's economy has recovered, it's never returned to the same global prominence. Both of these tropes have mostly been reassigned to China, which is now simultaneously depicted as a big economic threat and a source of laughably shoddy wares (thanks to various scandals in the 2000s regarding recalls of goods made by Chinese manufacturers).
- Coeducational colleges and dorms killed off the College Widow.
- Modern medical science in the developed world has, for the most part, done in the Incurable Cough of Death, and Death by Childbirth, or so one would think; ignoring period pieces or anything set outside of the industrialized world, many sentimentalist writers didn't get the memo. However, as many pathogens develop resistances, incidences of bacterial septic shock and resistant TB are on the rise. If Real Life Writes the Plot, these may become Cyclic Tropes.
- The economic slump, credit crunch, and dismal job market of the late 2000s, 2010s, and 2020s pretty much became a Trope Breaker for Basement-Dweller, as more and more college grads have no other choice, even as they actively search for work, so the trope characterizing those who do as anti-social or slackers is fading away. Since the economy rotates between periods of good and bad, this is more of a Cyclic Trope than a Discredited Trope or Dead Horse Trope, and still Truth in Television.
- More militaries have become professional volunteer forces, doing away with Draft Dodging. However, should things go horribly wrong in some way or another, just about all of those countries would reinstate drafting or conscription.
- The feminist movement was supposed to be a Trope Breaker for many tropes, including Women Are Delicate, Damsel in Distress, Screaming Woman, Stay in the Kitchen, Hysterical Woman, and Monster Misogyny, but a lot of these are too ingrained to vanish so easily, and still crop up, often in the form of the Faux Action Girl and Unstable Powered Woman. It also made the tropes Straw Feminist and Real Women Never Wear Dresses.
- Artificial insemination smashes a lot of Sex Tropes to bits by making sex no longer necessary to produce kids. For instance, All Lesbians Want Kids and Only You Can Repopulate My Race no longer require the woman to Lie Back and Think of England with all the potential angst this might involve. There are reasons why the old-fashioned way might be necessary (it's cheaper, the man might not want to make a deposit at a sperm bank, or the work might be set somewhere where artificial insemination is forbidden or otherwise unavailable), but they're rarely used; instead, the idea almost never even comes up except as Fridge Logic.
- World War I ended the idea that War Is Glorious, at least in Europe. Militarism and absolutism (or what remained of the latter) also took a devastating hit (the former directly because of the war, the latter because of the revolutions in Russia and Germany and the disintegration of Austria-Hungary that were themselves direct results of the war). For Japan and the USA, the idea that War Is Glorious didn't really end until World War II and the Vietnam War respectively. If it ever existed in the latter's case.
- World War II:
- The war was, at least in the West, simultaneously the Trope Breaker for antisemitism and eugenics.
- It made white supremacy a bit embarrassing in the United States. In fact, you could argue that World War II severely wounded the racism-related tropes that the Civil Rights Movement finished off twenty years later. This definitely happened with Jackie Robinson. Followers of baseball assumed the first black player in Baseball would be a Negro Leaguer well-known to white fans, and with a history of performance against white teams, such as Josh Gibson or Satchel Paige. Robinson was not well known at the time. But Branch Rickey knew he needed someone with the right mindset, and Robinson's exemplary performance as an officer in WWII (which included taking a stand against some racist actions) helped convince Rickey that Robinson was the right man for the job.
- Japanese Spirit took a massive hit during World War II, breaking the Japanese military's sense of invulnerability and making the populace question the value of the Martyrdom Culture. There are still traces of it in everyday society and media, though.
- Related to this, the 21st century has broken both the Nazi Grandpa and Argentina Is Nazi-Land tropes outside of Period Pieces, as the Nazis who have fled to Argentina are, if they are not dead yet, in their 90s at their youngest as of 2023. Even then, such remaining Nazis would have been too young at the time of World War II to be high-profile fugitives that would justify them fleeing to Argentina.
- Any real-life US war movies that take place after The Korean War cannot assume that America Saves the Day.
- Vietnam War movies focus on the terrible and monotonous nature of war and the postwar struggles of the The Vietnam Vet.
- The War on Terror has only furthered this trope's decline — or at least, its widespread subversion — revived the Shell-Shocked Veteran, and gave rise to the Post-9/11 Terrorism Movie, in which "victory" is hard to come by.
- Even in The '90s, in which the United States was the lone global superpower, this trope was mostly used for World War II nostalgia movies or intergalactic Disaster Movies, in which the US defeated alien invasions or world-shattering asteroids.
- 9/11 also broke the "stop your love from getting on the airplane by catching up at the gate" variant of Race for Your Love, as trying to run through pre-gate security nowadays would get you tackled or worse by guards. (Though some parts of the world still have looser security and this trope can be used.)
- Most action stories of "Hero/Villain tries to get The Information back to his superiors/client, while Villain/Hero tries to stop him" are difficult to pull off thanks to modern technology (emails, phone calls, the cloud, etc.), unless we're talking a lot of data (tens of gigabytes or more). This has caused a shift to emphasize the difficulty in acquiring the information in the first place, or finding proof of the villain's actions, without being detected. Also, keep in mind that many computers with highly sensitive information are configured to only transmit within private trusted networks, or even intentionally prevented from any network communication. In cases where Villain Bob is trying to stop Alice's info-dump, having him take steps to discredit Alice, so the disseminated data won't be believed, is becoming just as common as Bob seeking to block her from releasing it in the first place.
- The Slurpasaur was common in the days when low-budget B-movies forced directors to come up with some way of portraying dinosaurs, however silly it might look. Thanks to advances in special effects technology, particularly with CGI, this became less of a problem. Granted, there may still be Special Effects Failure whether models or CGI are used, but even then, the audience will still be able to recognize the on-screen creature as a Tyrannosaurus rex and not a dressed-up iguana. There's also the matter of Science Marches On and the fact that most people today are aware that dinosaurs were much more closely related to modern birds than to modern lizards.
- The Internet Is for Porn:
- The Internet broke the demand for Poor Man's Porn by giving free/cheap access to the hard stuff.
- The Internet also broke the Porn Stash. This wasn't instant; as The Amazing Atheist explained, it took a very long time for pictures to load in the 90s and early 00s, so at that time magazines were still the predominant way of looking at porn. The widespread adoption of DSL and then broadband cable Internet in the mid-2000s eventually led to the demise of physical stashes, but the format of the Internet porn of the day (downloadable video files) simply meant the stash had gone digital, moved to nested folders marked "Research". The ascent of YouTube-esque streaming porn (and most especially PornHub) around 2010 was what made those nested folders unnecessary and killed the stash for the vast majority of people once and for all.
- The Internet also put the final nail in the coffin for adult theaters, which were already brought nearly to extinction by home videotape players.
- The Industrial Revolution was the Trope Breaker for Textile Work Is Feminine, though it was a gradual process — first spinning and weaving, and carding, then much of the sewing, etc. This trope still existed well into the 20th century for domestic textile work and still remains somewhat today.
- Also relating to the Industrial Revolution, the implementation of the Clear Air Act of 1956 de-fogged any future chances of A Foggy Day in London Town after a very severe smog in 1952, the worst recorded ever in London history,note resulted in an estimated 10,000 deaths.
- While Gone with the Wind 's "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" did not kill off Gosh Dang It to Heck!, it ensured that adult characters using euphemistic profanities in the movies could never quite be taken seriously anymore.
- The Millennium Bug and Mayan Doomsday tropes were broken by the actual arrival of the dates on which their apocalypses were supposed to occur, only to have nothing happen (though the former was as much prevented as it was overhyped). This goes for any trope about a specific date in the near future.
- Because it's become increasingly easy and quick to dump a game's ROM, put it on a PC, and analyze and even disassemble its code, these days, any attempt to make an Urban Legend of Zelda will likely get you laughed at. However, as video games become increasing elaborate and complex while open to an ever wider audience, this trope persisted as sometimes even the developers themselves couldn't be aware of every tiny feature or bug in a game. The rise of "games as a service" may also play a factor, because what is true or not becomes harder to keep track of in a constantly evolving game.
- While still occasionally used for comedic effect (and even that started coming under increasing scrutiny in the 2010s), Blackface, Brownface and Yellowface are practically never used for major Fake Nationality characters anymore, in part because of Screen Actors Guild regulations that now stipulate that actors must be at least partially of the same ethnicity as the characters that they portray—specifically put in place to avoid the offensive racial caricatures common in the early days of Hollywood. However, because the continued dominance of white actors in Hollywood, the majority of ethnic actors still largely conform to Western beauty standards. Alternately, some handwave of claiming a Caucasian actor is mixed but white-passing will be used to justify having a white character play an ethnic character.
- The success of the Harry Potter films killed a very specific part of the Same Language Dub. Before that, it was common practice for any British shows exported in America, specifically those aimed at children, to dub the characters with American accents. The success of the films showed that the American audiences would watch something with British voices in there. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was literally picked up for adaptation as soon as the films were a success; many American filmmakers had previously attempted to adapt The Chronicles of Narnia to film, but had to deal with studio executives pressuring them to relocate the story to America.note
- While not completely gone, Filler is far less common in serialized TV shows in The New '10s, thanks to the one-two punch of streaming services and premium cable. Programs on premium channels are much more likely to have closely linked plotlines between episodes since networks feel obligated to give viewers some kind of payoff in every episode when they know that they're paying higher prices to watch their shows; likewise, network TV shows are far more likely to do the same in order to compete with premium shows. By the same token, shows that are streamed online by the season are more likely to be closely linked, since producers know that there's no danger of viewers getting lost after missing an episode, and they know that many viewers will simply skip an episode if it's clearly just there to fill up space.
- Streaming services (such as Netflix), TiVo, On-Demand channels, Timeshift Channels, and DVRs are all Trope Breakers for Appointment Television. However, many people do still like (or only have time) to watch their shows at a particular time or wish to see them ASAP to avoid Spoilers on social media or in conversations around the water cooler at work the next day.
- The bloomer half of the classic Japanese School Sport Uniform steadily disappeared from Japanese schools from the mid-90s to the early 2000s, replaced by unisex shorts, due to modesty concerns and an increasing tide of complaints from students and parents alike. Since the mid-2000s, straight examples have been increasingly rare in mainstream Japanese media, relegated to either elementary school characters or specifically noted to be rare and fetishy. Naturally, straight examples continue to exist in Ecchi and Hentai and are unlikely to go away any time soon.
- The advent of no-fault divorce was a trope-breaker for the Awful Wedded Life and Happy Marriage Charade, as well as the idea that Divorce Requires Death or that one should travel to Reno, Nevada. Couples are no longer forced to stay in unhappy or abusive marriages, or to have to lie (or exaggerate) to a judge in order to get out of them. That is, unless they're observant Catholic or any other religion or culture that frowns upon divorce. The Awful Wedded Life trope, however, is still a staple of comedy, especially stand-up.
- In the US, at least, "Amber Alerts" are the trope-breaker for the Face on a Milk Carton trope. They get the word out much faster that the child in question is missing, and can reach a much larger group of people. Both of which increase (although do not guarantee) the odds of that child being found alive and being returned to their family.
- The poor reception of Caillou note in the United States killed off the Importation Expansion trope for foreign, non-Power Rangers children's shows in the United States. The standard practice now is to adapt these shows into either a multiple shorts per episode format or to air them in their own timeslot as a Quarter Hour Short, now that the latter format is popular there.
- Electronic toll collection systems, which either communicate with a wireless transponder mounted on passing vehicles or photograph the license plates of vehicles that are not equipped with the device, are a Trope Breaker for Toll Booth Antics.
- Improvements in medicine that made HIV a manageable condition are for the most part the trope breaker for the Tragic AIDS Story. The exceptions are historical fiction and works set in developing countries where access to such medicine is inconsistent, or scenarios making use of the trend of viruses to develop drug-resistant strains.
- The Chickenpox Episode lost most of its relevance when a vaccine for chicken pox became widely available. While the disease does still exist, it's no longer just taken as inevitable that every child is going to get it.
- The various methods media used to acknowledge birthdays without treading on the copyright of Happy Birthday to You! were rendered unnecessary in late 2015 and early 2016 (depending on where you live) when the copyright either was determined to be invalid or expired (again, depending on where you live).
- The 2020 George Floyd protests have pretty much made it impossible for a work of fiction to include a Noble Bigot with a Badge without massive negative attention.
- The Living Dinosaurs trope became a lot less popular after the discovery of the Chicxulub crater in the early 1990s, which definitively proved the Alvarez hypothesis (the theory that the dinosaurs went extinct due to an asteroid striking the Earth) first proposed in 1980. Prior to the Alvarez hypothesis, many scientists believed that the dinosaurs died out gradually due to long-term environmental trends (such as climate change or ocean regression), which made it somewhat more plausible that some of them could have survived into the present day. Once it became clear that their extinction was more likely the result of a sudden and dramatic cataclysm, that became a lot harder to take seriously.
- The increasing acceptance of work-from-home arrangements, especially during and after the COVID-19 Pandemic, has put a serious damper on things like Family Versus Career and When You Coming Home, Dad?. It's much easier now to have parents working at home with flexible hours, although that's a two-edged sword; a severe Workaholic can still get absorbed in the home office and neglect family duties.
- The Boss Button lost its relevancy with the advent of multitasking operating systems and the ability to switch programs on the fly. There's no need for a button to pretend you're working when you can return to actually working just as quickly.
- Ironically, the destigmatization and slow legalization of cannabis use in the 2010s killed the Stoner Flick. From the '70s through the '00s in the age of the War on Drugs, these films banked on the idea of getting high as something illegal and dangerous, and the people who did so as cool, edgy, and countercultural. With more people openly discussing cannabis and admitting to using it without shame, stoner humor lost its edge, with audiences instead increasingly viewing it as hackneyed and juvenile. Consequently, drug-related humor instead shifted focus to drugs that are still illegal or otherwise staunchly restricted in most of the Western world, such as crack and ketamine.
- The advent of digitalized special effects and LCD technology for screen displays made the Crystal Clear Picture no longer a necessity if the creators wanted crisper In-Universe screen displays. Now, fixing the de-synch between the CRT screen's scan rate and the camera's frames-per-second is automatically corrected.