->''"One does not necessarily have to cluck in disapproval to admit that entertainment is all the things its detractors say it is: fun, effortless, sensational, mindless, formulaic, predictable and subversive. In fact, one might argue that those are the very reasons so many people love it."''
-->-- '''Neal Gabler''', ''Life the Movie: How Entertainment Conquered Reality''

Tropes are just tools. Writers understand tropes and use them to control audience expectations either by using them straight or by subverting them, to convey things to the audience quickly without saying them.

Human beings are natural pattern seekers and story tellers. We use stories to convey truths, examine ideas, speculate on the future and discuss consequences. To do this, we must have a basis for our discussion, a new language to show us what we are looking at today. So our storytellers use tropes to let us know what things about reality we should put aside and what parts of fiction we should take up.

When editing the wiki, then, remember these two mantras:


!! Tropes Are Not Bad

There is one thing that you must keep in mind to retain your sanity here, and that is that including a trope in a particular work does not make it "''[[DarthWiki/RuinedFOREVER ruined]]''." Not even ''[[BadWritingIndex those]]'' tropes.

If your favorite shows have long lists of tropes associated with them, well, so does everybody's. A show featuring an ActionGirl or showing a character [[KickTheDog kicking the dog]] is not a bad thing; the former is merely a reasonable type of character (badass character who is female) and the latter is a character action that happens plenty in RealLife.

Consider the following points before you label simply including a common story element or character type as a sign of creative failure:

->"But it's what this author is doing this time that matters, as much as, if not more than, what he or she did last time, and that, certainly, matters far more than its kinships, its family likenesses with its mode, its genres, its formal kind."
-->--'''Valentine Cunningham''', Oxford

'''There is nothing new under the sun.''' Including that very statement. And the [[Literature/TheBible book]] from which it comes. Completely ignoring the possibility that one's favorite show just might ''not'' be hewn from the very essence of the universe by Thor himself and placed in the periodic table under '''Or''' for "Originalium" doesn't change the fact that it ''wasn't''. And acknowledging that it isn't should not lessen its appeal, either.

Every story is influenced by what came before it -- and storytellers (e.g., writers, directors, actors) are bound to show that influence, intentionally or not, in the process of telling. Just because something's been used before doesn't mean it's a cliché, and stories often gain something by having [[ShoutOut ties to other works.]] That said, there certainly is such thing as ''too'' derivative, but there's a difference between playing a trope straight and utter ClicheStorm (and even those aren't necessarily bad).

[[JustForFun/TheTropelessTale It's impossible to write something completely and utterly without tropes, anyway, so stop trying.]]

'''Almost every trope has a silver lining.''' The much-reviled AllJustADream was, let's not forget, used in [[Series/{{Newhart}} one of the most highly regarded series finales]] in the history of television, as well as one of the [[Film/TheCabinetOfDrCaligari best twist endings]] in any movie. While DarkerAndEdgier revisionism isn't always a good thing, it's been used in [[Film/TheDarkKnight the biggest blockbuster of 2008]]. Even if a trope ''didn't'' have a silver lining, every trope could still be used honorably by way of subversion, parody, or appropriately employed and treated in-universe examples. Remember, while this site is fairly snarky, most of the snark is directed towards shows that ''don't'' use tropes well.

'''Fiction isn't necessarily supposed to be realistic.''' When your reader wants to escape from the tired drudgery of reality, you shouldn't be trying to indexically recreate it. Much fiction seeks to show not what is, but what could be, or what should be. A trope being unrealistic isn't necessarily a flaw, and is often covered by RuleOfCool, RuleOfFunny, or RuleOfScary. Indeed, a trope, however unrealistic, can be a convenient shorthand when played straight; setting up aversions or subversions for it can be more wordy than is needed to get on with story.

'''Tropes that are bad when imitated in real life are not automatically bad in fiction.''' This is an important distinction. Many tropes contain or imply cultural, social, or moral value judgments that simply don't work the same way in fiction as they do in real life. UncleTomfoolery may be racist in real life, and based on some very nasty stereotypes, but when seen in a work, it simply ''is''. It's not necessary to [[AndThatsTerrible tell everyone how awful it is]], either in the examples or in the trope description. An extreme version of this comes when somebody wants us to cut a trope because they think it describes something bad. See also Administrivia/PrescriptiveVsDescriptiveLanguage.


!! Tropes Are Not Good

Tropes Are Not Bad covers the bad half of this, but there are good reasons to remember Tropes Are Not Good, too:

'''All tropes can be written badly.''' This includes tropes that everyone thinks are good, like MagnificentBastard. A badly written MagnificentBastard may be done in such a way that everyone else in the story are {{idiot| ball}}s and generally gives less of an impression of intelligence and more of an impression of [[TheComputerIsACheatingBastard cheating]] or changing the [[ScrewTheRulesIHavePlot internal rules]] of the story. RefugeInAudacity has different breaking points for different people.

'''All tropes can be overused.''' Too many {{Xanatos Gambit}}s tend to make the show [[MindScrew confusing]], no matter how well written they are. Too many [[SugarWiki/MomentOfAwesome Moments Of Awesome]] take up room where plot could go, or make the audience pay less attention to the relatively boring plot bits, making the story more shallow. The SugarWiki/MomentOfAwesome is supposed to be a singular moment for a character and the RuleOfCool can make up for weak points in a story, but rarely does it work ''as'' the story.

'''Just because a trope is realistic doesn't mean it's good.''' There is a reason why we have an entire category devoted to AcceptableBreaksFromReality. For example, TheHero gets shot in the shoulder and dies. TheDeterminator doesn't come into play, no MyNameIsInigoMontoya, nothing. Realistic, maybe, but that is not what we want a hero to do. That's right, one of the most fundamental character archetypes is usually unrealistic. The important thing when writing a story is that it's ''believable'', not that it's ''real''. RealityIsUnrealistic, after all; often people are so used to tropes that it's ''reality'' they find jarring.

'''A good show doesn't need "good" tropes.''' People often search for an ideal recipe for a hit show, as if entertainment was some sort of alchemical process, and are surprised when their stitched-together creation lurches three steps before disappearing into critical oblivion. A well written show won't be any worse if it doesn't have a MagnificentBastard. A good show doesn't get worse if the main five characters don't form a FiveManBand. Heck, a good show doesn't even need basic tropes like TheHero or BigBad.