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Undead Horse Trope

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World of Warcraft uses some tropes so much,
they continue into the next world.

"I'm aware it's a cliché
I am aware I'm being stupid, I'm aware of that but hey
This is just something that I gotta do..."
— "Action Movie Hero Boy," Lemon Demon

Generally, there's a standard progression as a trope ages. First, it is born. Once it has become established enough, parodies, subversions and deconstructions start to crop up. It ends up eventually becoming a trope that no one should dare use seriously (making it a Discredited Trope) and subversions might be common enough to be straight examples of new tropes (making it a Dead Horse Trope). Or it could just be forgotten completely.

Sometimes, however, tropes just don't want to die, and the progression skips a step. Subversions and parodies are common enough to be their own tropes, yet the original trope, even if it's one of The Oldest Ones in the Book, is still in active use and isn't even (universally at least — opinions vary) seen as cliched or corny. It would be a Dead Horse Trope, except it isn't actually dead; it's Undead.


Some tropes that reach this state eventually ascend into Omnipresent Tropes, ones that are more like the building blocks of a story which would severely limit writers' options if they were taken off the market. The majority remain necessities for genre and narrative reasons for which non-cliched explanations have yet to be able to provide a suitable alternative. Sometimes, they persist because of a Grandfather Clause.

Compare and contrast Cyclic Trope; contrast Dead Unicorn Trope (something that's often referenced as though it were a trope, but never actually used as one).


Examples of tropes that haven't quite been killed off:

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  • Africa Is a Country: A growing desire to be more culturally sensitive combined with general ignorance will get you this.
  • Agony Beam: It's necessary to show PG suffering.
  • All Just a Dream: Keeps popping up in children's cartoons and cheap direct-to-DVD horror movies even in this century, despite that it's sure to induce a headdesk from many viewers. Its sister trope, Or Was It a Dream?, keeps happening too. Why? Both these tropes are just too damned convenient.
  • All Men Are Perverts: Even though most men aren't perverts (or at least not overtly so), this stereotype is still very common.
  • Ambiguously Gay: As it's becoming more and more acceptable to include openly queer characters in media, leaving a character's sexuality vague like that is pretty much a thing of the past. Additionally, many of the traits that once coded a character as possibly gay are themselves becoming discredited (for example, a character remaining single could be asexual or aromantic, mourning a deceased partner, having difficulty finding a suitable partner or they just simply don't want a relationship at all for whatever reason.) by the Camp Straight, Straight Gay, Lipstick Lesbian, and Lad Ette. A character's sexuality is more likely to be directly part of the story, although in media heavily policed by Moral Guardians the vague hints are all they can use (My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic hinted at a couple of same sex pairings that were later confirmed by Word of Gay). This trope has been used mostly to engage in Queerbaiting.
  • Anyone Remember Pogs?: Becoming less common due to nostalgia for things such as, well, the Trope Namer, but still in force for more recent dead fads.
  • As You Know: Homer used it in the Iliad. Aristophanes broke the fourth wall to mock his own use of this trope. More than two millennia later, characters still lecture each other about things the others know, usually to inform the audience of what's happening.
  • Auto-Tune: Mocked all the time, yet a standard for all pop music since the late '90s. Improvements in the technology make it much easier to do without being obvious to most listeners, but at the same time the retro "robo-voice" sound is frequently used in exaggerated fashion for deliberate stylistic effect.
  • Awful Wedded Life: A staple of comedy (especially stand-up) because True Love Is Boring.
  • Bald of Evil: Ridiculed often though still used.
  • Banana Peel: This trope has its origins in the early 1900's when refrigeration and shipping made the banana a massively popular fruit, and before littering laws forced people to properly dispose of food waste. City streets being littered with banana peels that would rot and turn slippery was a problem big enough for it to become become a symbol of urban sanitation, and it inevitably make its way into the slapstick comedy of the time. Today, it's still a ubiquitous gag that is often parodied and played straight in equal measure, even though few people really care about the answer to 'why banana peels?' other than it being something classic comedies did.
  • Be Yourself: Keeps popping up in kids' shows even though older viewers might find it trite. Never mind the dubious assumption that every child (or even every adult!) has a strong and fully-developed, static sense of self which is independent of their family and their peers. "Being yourself" would be a lot easier if it weren't a difficult-to-discover moving target — but this aspect is rarely addressed. The fact that it is about identity still allows writers to put interesting takes on the concept.
  • Big "NO!": Parodies of this and other Big Word Shouts have been around for quite a while, but even so, they're still being played straight. It can still be pulled off where it doesn't come across as cheesy, but it takes the right context and the right actor to do it.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: Despite numerous studies proving that a man's penis size has little impact on women's sexual pleasurenote , the trope is still alive and kicking (especially in porn, where it's practically omnipresent) and will probably be for a long time. Then there's personal preference to take into account.
  • Black-and-White Morality: Due to most adult viewers finding perfectly-good heroes who are always right and irredeemably evil villains who are always wrong impossible to relate to or care about, Grey-and-Gray Morality has become the norm in most storytelling nowadays. It still often shows up in works aimed at young children, since they likely wouldn't understand the shades of gray until they got older, thanks to the Animation Age Ghetto. It also commonly shows up in all-ages works and in The Moral Substitute, the latter of which doesn't allow room for any moral ambiguity.
  • Black Comedy: Many examples have been seen as tasteless and unfunny, particularly ones that lampoon topics considered sensitive nowadays. However, the concept itself is still around.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Has been mocked and parodied over the years but still tends to pop up in works unironically (if only for the arbitrary reason that (A) there's only one Black character, (B) they aren't the main character, and (C) somebody has to die for there to be a Final Girl).
  • Black Is Bigger in Bed: Despite its historical origins being questionable at best and having little to no scientific evidence of being Truth in Television, this is the one Black stereotype that is unlikely to ever die (again, this is especially true in porn).
  • Black Jezebel Stereotype: Similar to the above, despite numerous study that this trope is untrue and harmful to black women, this trope refuses to die, especially with the American justice system.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: It would be very difficult, if not impossible, for the hero to prevail if the villain did indeed "Just shoot him."
  • Broken Heel: Along with its countless variations.
  • Brownface: While Blackface and Yellowface have been completely discredited, this does still show up occasionally. Aladdin (2019) came under fire for using extras with it. Milder forms may still be used, possibly to suggest the character just likes tanning.
  • Bumbling Dad: Another comedy staple despite the Unfortunate Implications about fathers and men in general.
  • But Thou Must!: Even in an environment that can create sophisticated software, this is still used (and no one can adequately explain why without invoking Developer Laziness).
  • Camp Gay and Butch Lesbian still show up in modern media despite being derided as homophobic stereotypes. Likely because there are some gays and lesbians in real life who do exhibit these characteristics with some even doing so deliberately in order to ward off suspicion that they are just pretending to be gay. At least Straight Gay and Lipstick Lesbian have become more prevalent.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Villains who openly gloat about their evil nature are usually seen by older audiences as too cheesy to take seriously, as well as implying that the writers believe their audience is too stupid to realise that a character is evil unless it's explicitly stated. They still appear regularly in works targeted at children, but Card-Carrying Villains in works targeted at older audiences are usually cited as examples of bad writing.
  • Caustic Critic: One of the most infamous critic stereotypes that has yet to die. Despite most New Hollywood era critics that popularized this trope being either dead or retired and most 2000s-early 2010s internet critics that resurrected this trope having mostly grown out of it (aided by higher political sensitivity giving trouble to the Equal-Opportunity Offender status most Caustic Critics run on), it's still common among some critics (both professional and internet-based) and is still the modus operandi of the Golden Raspberry Awards.
  • Chainmail Bikini: By now, everyone who's not too busy drooling is either groaning or laughing. It's mercilessly parodied again and again for about twenty years... but it still goes on. There's certainly no denying that it is very sexy for many people. Also as if the sword-and-sorcery version of the Seashell Bra, artists are forced to put these on their otherwise topless action girls, as bare-chested warrior men are OK, but bare-chested warrior women are not.
  • Cheap Heat: It might be cheap, but it works, so why stop it?
  • Cheat Code: Thanks to DLC, achievements, and online multiplayer, cheat codes are effectively dead for consoles. However, for the desktop computer market, it's common practice to leave the developer's console accessible, in the interest of facilitating mod testing and provisional bug workarounds. Some long-running franchises that are known for their cheat codes, such as Grand Theft Auto, also still use cheat codes for gamers to enjoy the heck out of them in single-player modes, although they will block achievements when used.
  • Consummation Counterfeit: A lot of people still carry certain misconceptions that the hymen always tears the first time a woman has sex, and that her first time is always a bloody event. And there are still places and cultures in the world where because of tradition, a new bride's family members or husband might look for the alleged "proof" that she was a virgin. And it certainly makes sense to use the trope in a period piece.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Mocked endlessly, but most stories would be impossible (or at least extremely difficult) to tell without them, so it's practically an Omnipresent Trope.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: Many many heroes (especially comic book superheroes) lost their parents very young to avoid adding them to the narrative or give the character some angst issues or a quest in life.
  • Courtly Love: Undead for about five hundred years now, yet still clocking up regular hours in many forms, while never just limited to Fantasy. Famous subversions appear as far back as Romeo and Juliet and The Canterbury Tales.
  • Crate Expectations: Crates in video games have been mocked to death, but won't be going away any time soon. Otherwise, how will we get our randomly generated items or climb things?
  • Crowd Song: Almost required for a musical.
  • Crunchtastic: Played straight mainly in media and advertising aimed at kids while hard to take seriously elsewhere.
  • Damsel in Distress: Has been parodied plenty, but being the Grandfather Clause for a lot of long running series (The Super Mario series itself mocks it occasionally when it uses it, though Princess Zelda's capturing is more straightlaced), and how it functions well enough for its cheapness, keeps it alive. Plus, depending on how violent or harrowing the action is, it can be a good way to set up Fanservice, and/or a Rescue Romance.
  • Dating Sim: Has been parodied, deconstructed, and mocked to death by both sides of the Pacific due to most people seeing the genre as something only creepy otaku play, with Doki Doki Literature Club! being a famous subversion of a Romance Game, but the universal appeal of getting an attractive person to fall in love with you means that the genre (or at least elements of it) won't go away anytime soon, with Dating Sim hybrids like the Persona games continuing to be popular. It's also borderline omnipresent in adult games.
  • Dawson Casting: The tradition of casting young adult actors to portray teenagers is often subject to parody and ridicule, with aversions being more common now than they used to be. Sometimes, however straight uses are more convenient or unavoidable (e.g. a Long Runner that focuses on children and teens goes on well-past the young actors' journey into adulthood, but the characters don't age as fast as the actors do). The analysis page goes into more depth on why Dawson Casting is still used.
  • A Day in Her Apron: Almost every Dom Com features this (or some variation of it) at some point. In TV land single income households are somehow still common enough for this plot to make sense.
  • Death by Childbirth: Even though this is rare in developed countries, the Hand Wave that "Hey, it can still happen!" makes it a great Freudian Excuse. And there are still period pieces where it shouldn't be rare at all (and it can still be surprisingly high in developed countries). (Parodied, for example, in The Dictator, where Aladeen's mother is said to have "died in childbirth", but that's only because she was immediately smothered with a pillow so that her son could be raised by the state.)
  • Deus ex Machina: Among the Acceptable Breaks from Reality in advertisements, where the purpose is to make a product look good (usually) in a brief amount of time. In any other medium, it's treated as a Writer Cop Out.
  • Digital Piracy Is Evil: Plenty of parodies of this exist, but as long as digital piracy is still illegal (and it's not showing signs of becoming legal any time soon), there will always be mainstream media attacking it.
  • Disney School of Acting and Mime: The trope was and still is heavily used (and in the wrong hands, abused), even with all the ups and downs of Disney's reputation and influence throughout the years and the reputation of it sometimes being considered cliche and corny, but the origins of it have often lost its context as well—the trope drew its ham-like acting and broad gestures from vaudeville (a medium that is all but forgotten now) and silent film, which feature broad styles of acting that have long fallen out of favor in live action films and TV shows since the 70s (unless you want to be seen as an amateurish or ham actor). Animators used it then and still use it today simply because its easier to convey gestures that way than trying to make them realistic or subtle, which is usually difficult or even impossible to do in animation.
  • Don't Try This at Home: The exact wording of this phrase is a Dead Horse Trope; not only has it been extensively parodied, but the kids whom this phrase was intended for would take it too literally and perform the depicted stunts away from home. Nowadays, serious uses of this trope would drop the "at home" part to make it clear that these stunts shouldn't be performed at all by their audience.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Pretty much any sitcom from The '90s onward features this happening to husbands by their wives. There has been a growing backlash to this Double Standard note  since The New '10s and more modern shows have been subverting, averting or deconstructing it in an attempt to discredit it, but this trope is still often played straight and a widely defended belief in Real Life, even among law enforcement.
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male: Like the double standard for female on male violence, a growing number of audience members are calling out this double standard (Notably, Coming 2 America faced much backlash for having the main character's illegitimate son conceived via the mother drugging him and forcing herself on him, and not only is it Played for Laughs, but no one in-universe condemns her for it), but it isn't enough to stop many writers from continuing to play it straight. It doesn't help that female on male sexual assault is often taken even less seriously by law enforcement than female on male violence is, because a man wouldn't give in if he didn't want it, right?
  • Double Standard: Rape, Male on Male: Again, despite some progressives attacking it (with a few even pointing out the misogynistic and homophobic undertones this trope carries) male on male rape is still largely Played for Laughs (Prison Rape, for example, is still frequently viewed as hilarious karma for certain evildoers) and when it is Played for Drama, audiences often giggle at it anyway. The only exception seems to be if the victim is a minor.
  • Down to the Last Play: Far more common (proportionally) in sports dramas than in real life, but it's the best way to keep the audience emotionally invested in the game.
  • Dramatic Wind: Often parodied by having the wind blow hair or objects into the people's faces, but straight examples still invoke the desired effect.
  • Dumb and Drummer: It's certainly true that there are some very intelligent drummers out there, and certainly there was never just the stupid rock 'n' roll drummer. But there's a reason jokes about this trope are still funny here and now; even if we all know the stereotype, there will always be a drummer - or many, at least - who fits some aspect of this trope to a T.
  • Dumb Blonde: Not much excuse for this one - countless real life studies have proven blondes are just as smart as anyone else - but it is certainly still around.
  • Easily-Distracted Referee: Mocked constantly by fans and non-fans of pro wrestling alike, but it is necessary for Heels to cheat in order to garner boos and further the drama in a match.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: Some games still have mocking moments for those who play on lower difficulties.
  • Enhance Button: Due to public becoming aware of how impossible enhancing in real life would not work, the subersions and parodies of this trope are very common to the point they outnumber straight examples.
  • The Elevator from Ipanema: Most elevators don't play Muzak any more, but it's still the most appropriate backdrop for the Uncomfortable Elevator Moment.
  • Equal-Opportunity Offender: This type of humor is nowadays seen as trying-too-hard-to-be-edgy and offensive in the politically correct modern day, but it's still alive and kicking.
  • Evil Gloating: Just because it is a waste of time that leaves you open for a bullet does not mean it can't be an awesome speech, and if you happen to be a narcissist you are in good company.
  • Evil Laugh: Largely viewed as goofy and unrealistic, but it continues to be utilized by fictional villains because it's too fun. Some, such as The Joker, can get away with it because of the Grandfather Clause.
  • Evil Twin: Often parodied, subverted, recognized as a cliché, or Lampshaded whenever there are twins in the cast. But it's still a useful tool for inducing drama in shows.
  • Exact Eavesdropping: Subversions predate Shakespeare, but TV shows continue to play it straight whenever it'll move the plot along.
  • Exploding Barrels: Like Crate Expectations, it's been done to death but sticks around anyway. Explosions are cool, after all.
  • The Four Chords of Pop: No matter how sick we are of hearing the same progression over and over, no matter how much it gets mocked, no matter how hackneyed and unoriginal these chords may be, they have been with us since 17th century Baroque music and are showing no signs of going away any time soon. It certainly doesn't hurt that even social science has proven their efficiency and appeal to the human ear.
  • The Freak Show: When carnival sideshows made a comeback in the 1990s, this actually became more of a Resurrected Trope.
  • Free-Range Children: Parents in the US haven't let their kids wander all over the town or city unsupervised since at least the 1980s. However, nearly all shows that focus on groups of children as protagonists still use this trope. Can't have zany adventures with your parents hovering overhead, after all.
  • Funny Bruce Lee Noises: Annoying, done to death, not funny any more (and surely can't have been that funny in the first place), but still used in absolutely every comedy martial arts scenario ever without exception and will be until the end of time. (If for no other reason, then because it's actually an exaggeration of Truth in Television: The Kiai, used to control breathing.)
  • Game Over and Game-Over Man: The game over screen is almost unheard of in newer first person shooters but still a part of some Nintendo classics and most JRPGs. Variants like Have a Nice Death and The Many Deaths of You also help by recasting the game over as part of the experience.
  • Give Geeks a Chance: Still persists for the same reasons as Nerds Are Virgins (see below).
  • Glass Jaw Referee: It seems like even the biggest, toughest looking refs get knocked out for several minutes by the slightest touch from a pro wrestler (even if said ref is another wrestler acting as a special guest referee.), but like the Easily-Distracted Referee above, wrestling fans have accepted it (sometimes begrudgingly) as a requirement of the show in order to heighten the drama of a match.
  • Good Shepherd / The Vicar: Thanks to productions which had stories Ripped from the Headlines, many fictional priests nowadays tend to be child molesters, political strawmen or otherwise villainous, to the point where a nice, caring, all-loving priest is less common than it used to be, especially in secular works, but religious works and the occasional secular work still have this trope played straight with kind, all-loving priests.
  • Goth: This has been parodied almost perpetually over the fifty years since its inception in the late 1970s (and is related to, but not to be confused with Gothic Horror, for which the same has been true for two hundred further years prior). Much like the undead monsters that have partially inspired it, goth just won't die. This can be partly attributed to a liability of definition, as the term encompasses a host of genres in every artistic medium. Still, the category is not meaningless, and continues to include both faithful homages to its roots and evolving extrapolations.
  • Harem Genre: This genre is seen as an easy genre to be successful in: it's extremely formulaic, can be applied to any other theme you want, and can be stuffed to the gills with gratuitous fanservice to keep the audience coming. Yet because of these traits, it's also a ripe target for parody, deconstruction, and it's also been subverted on a number of occasions, where the tropes and trappings of the genre are used to tell another kind of story entirely.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: It's very rare for any pro wrestler to go their entire career without having switched their alignment at least a few times. note  Barring injuries or death, a single wrestler will last around one to three decades in the business. It's crucial for wrestlers to refresh their characters so that audiences won't get bored of them, and a Face–Heel Turn or Heel–Face Turn is the most convenient way to do so. Properly executed, it's also good for a Wham Episode when someone turns, so the practice of wrestlers turning face or heel isn't going anywhere. This practice is only derided if the turns are done so often that it prevents any meaningful character development.
  • Highly-Visible Ninja: Frequently lampshaded and mocked, but also necessary for Rule of Perception and Rule of Cool.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Despite atheism becoming more common in real life than it used to be, and atheists who are preachy jerkasses are a Vocal Minority at best in real life (much like religious fundamentalists), atheists in fiction are still portrayed in a negative light more often than not; possibly since a) theists are still the majority in most countries, b) media made by atheist creators tend to play it straight, since these creators are often outspoken atheists themselves (Seth MacFarlane for example), and c) more outspoken atheists such as Richard Dawkins have fallen out with favor with those who aren't outspoken atheists/skeptics due to some controversial views and statements, most notably their blatant misogyny (such as the Elevatorgate fiasco) and their attempts to normalize blatant Islamophobia as "criticism of religion".
  • Hollywood Genetics: Still persists to a degree despite much mockery. Modern uses are often due to either the Grandfather Clause or is a deliberate choice by the creators because having a cast of characters who all look the same is boring. Sometimes the physical differences between the relatives will be explained (e.g. recessive genes, hair dying, tanning.) other times not.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Since realistic hacking is still boring to depict, this still occasionally shows up whenever there is a hacking scene.
  • Hollywood Homely: Most people that are considered ugly by Hollywood's standards are average-looking or better to everyone else, so audiences don't buy them as being hideous (much like Beautiful All Along). It's still used because genuinely ugly actors typically aren't wanted in major roles and straight uses are fun for insult humor, since mocking the appearance of an actual ugly person is considered in poor taste. (Which creates another Unfortunate Implication: that it's perfectly okay to criticize the appearance of a "beautiful" person.)
  • I'm a Man; I Can't Help It: The slew of Unfortunate Implications raised by this trope (both as an excuse for abuse, rape, and misogyny; and as an insulting stereotype of men in general) have led to it dying a gradual death since the mid-90s, but it regularly resurfaces as Freudian Excuse for a boorish character.
  • It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: Purple Prose never dies, and both Peanuts and a yearly contest will keep it alive forever.
  • Joke Character: The first Lethal Joke Character probably came around five seconds after the first Joke Character, and both are in wide use.
  • Kavorka Man: Undead for similar reasons as Ugly Guy, Hot Wife (see below).
  • Kawaisa: Japanese culture's fascination with all things cute has been subverted, deconstructed, and parodied six ways to Sunday for decades, by works inside and out of the country, but it's still going strong. It helps that most parodies of this trope in its native countries are Affectionate Parody.
  • Kayfabe: Whenever Professional Wrestling is parodied, this trope is always going to be referenced to some degree. That being said, it remains one of the Acceptable Breaks from Reality in sports entertainment not only to keep ongoing plot lines consistent, but also reduce the likelihood of injury to the performers (note that Professional Wrestling is still very dangerous even though it's staged), and invoke Rule of Cool in ways which real sports cannot.
  • Laugh Track: Parodied and mocked often, most modern sitcoms avoid them as much as possible and the few Long Runners who were able to get away with it, such as The Big Bang Theory, have since ended. Notably, The Big Bang Theory's Spin-Off prequel Young Sheldon doesn't use a laugh track, though that's largely due to it being more of a Dramedy than a straight comedy like its predecessor. Despite this, some sitcoms still use laugh tracks or a Studio Audience, particularly those headed by Chuck Lorre (who created the aforementioned Big Bang Theory and Young Sheldon) along with Revivals of older sitcoms that used them. However, it firmly remains a Discredited Trope in Western Animation, where it doesn't even make sense to keep the illusion of a live studio audience; it's now seen as one of the many things wrong with The Dark Age of Animation.
  • Let's Just Be Friends: This line is still dropped often despite it being very difficult to take it seriously anymore. Not to mention the ex-couples involved are rarely actually able to do so.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Despite much parodying and lampshading, it is still quite prominent, especially in animation. Having a single Iconic Outfit helps make characters more memorable and recognizable, while animating different outfits for every episode (or even multiple scenes within an episode depending on the timeframe) is a pain.
  • Literal Genie: Or sometimes the Monkeys Paw genie or wishes. Wishes are seldom what you intend them to be, simply because a person could end a story very quickly with the right wish.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Parodies can be traced back as early as Jane Austen. Refuses to die because it's too convenient (not to mention a common insane fan theory). However, using it as a direct parody or homage to the Trope Namer nowadays will be met with a groan and a "Not again!" from the audience.

  • Magical Girl: The Magical Girl Genre Deconstruction is a trope in itself, codified by the wild success of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, but the genre has evolved and branched out since then and the deconstructive magical girl is only one of many active subgenres.
  • Male Gaze: This trope just doesn't want to die and is still found in every medium, despite being lampshaded since the seventies when Laura Mulvey brought it to light, even spawning its own trope. On the plus side, Female Gaze is also becoming more common.
  • A Man Is Always Eager: Undead for similar reasons as All Men Are Perverts (see above). The belief that men are always horny is a large reason why tropes like Double Standard Rape: Female on Male (also see above) have yet to be discredited.
  • Mascot with Attitude: The earliest versions of this Platform Game protagonist archetype have been parodied since the end of The '90s,note  but there are still plenty of newer examples that play it straight (such as Sly Cooper or the Inklings from Splatoon), pay homage to it (such as Freedom Planet), or are revived as a form of self-parody (Bubsy during the late 2010s).
  • Mattress-Tag Gag: Discredited in the 1960s, when mattress companies clarified that only sellers were forbidden by law from removing mattress tags, and not customers. If anything, the trope has become more popular since then, mainly for Poke the Poodle reasons.
  • Miles Gloriosus: Subverted for centuries, but still readers will expect the braggart is a coward, and be surprised if it's subverted, and accept it if it's played straight.
  • Million to One Chance: Played straight most of the time. However, most lighthearted or comedic works will subvert it or play around with it as much as possible.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Higher political correctness and larger sensitivity towards LGBTQ+ people has largely killed this trope, but this trope once in a while gets played straight.
  • Motivational Posters: Ubiquitous in schools and offices; mercilessly mocked everywhere else.
  • Muscles Are Meaningful: At least in Professional Wrestling. Smart Mark fans are typically more interested in average-sized, or even heavy-set (by wrestling standards at least) high fliers or technical wrestlers (mostly due to fans being able to relate more to these guys than to the 250 pound meatheads) and more of them are getting their dues. Despite this, the big musclebound men still tend to get the biggest pushes. (Part of the reason for this is that there's really only one major household name wrestling promotion still around, and its supreme chancellor heavily prefers and insists on pushing for guys who look like bodybuilders.)
  • Nerds Are Virgins: Even though nerds are slowly sliding into the Once Acceptable Targets territory, this particular nerd stereotype keeps being played straight. Funnily enough, it's sometimes a form of Self Deprecating Humour among nerds themselves.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: Played straight only when needed. Otherwise, a parody of it is a trope of its own.
  • No Flow in CGI: Despite technology having advanced to the point where long hair and cloth can be animated realistically in GCI, it is still quite difficult and costly to do so, especially regarding long hair. Humans have around 100,000 hairs on their scalp, so animating that many hairs to move and bounce around without clipping through each other is challenging. This is why most female characters in 3D animation and video games either have short haircuts or some kind of ponytail, braid, bun, etc. You won't typically see long, flowing hair in CGI outside of big-budget projects.
  • Non-Ironic Clown: For some reason (most likely because of the cultural impact of Krusty the Klown, Pennywise and/or the creepy clown sightings of 2016), most clowns in fiction these days tend to be scary or sad. Portraying a clown as a genuinely friendly cheerful jester is somewhat uncommon, but it still happens. This trope is still also the most common case for clowns in Latin America, it's downright hard to find a Monster Clown in the region (Brozo the Creepy Clown would count, but even he borders on this as Brozo is depicting as genuinely wanting to entertain even while using his Mexican twist on things)
  • Non-Singing Voice: Happens less and less in live action, mostly due to The Musical not being as widespread as it used to be. Movie musicals tend to cast actors who can at least carry a tune, write the score around their range and give them some song and dance training to prepare. It does still pop up in animation - Family Guy and My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic still make use of it - mostly in stuff that relies on Celebrity Voice Actors. But since most professional voice actors can usually also singnote , it's not as common as it used to be. Additionally, the old school Hollywood way of discovering anyone with a good look and putting them on camera is largely gone; many actors will have gone to drama schools that do train them in singing and dancing as well - so there are more working professionals in Hollywood who are able to do all three.
  • Nuclear Family: The expenses of owning a house, getting married and raising children are constantly increasing, making it harder for younger generations to afford them, resulting in them delaying these things until later in life when they're more financially stable. Additionally, concerns about societal problems such as government corruption, economic collapse, wars, climate change and overpopulation have led some young people (especially women) to reject having children altogether. Combined with a rising number of single and divorced parents in the modern day (along with non-parental guardians), this type of family dynamic is becoming less common in real life than it was in the past. It's still seen relatively often in fiction however, especially family sitcoms, if only because of the Grandfather Clause, though alternative families are seeing more representation as well.
  • The Other Darrin: Nowadays, if an actor dies, is fired, quits, retires, or can't reprise their role for other reasons, it's more probable that the character they portrayed will either be killed off or written out of the story than recast. This is possibly due to creators recognizing the attachment that fans have towards the actors who bring their favorite characters to life and realizing that a recast will likely cause outcry and turn the new actor into a Replacement Scrappy. And in cases where the actor has died, the decision not to replace them is likely out of respect for the deceased. That being said, there are instances where this still happens, such as if the character is a minor character, the new actor is portraying a younger/older version of the character or the character is too important to be removed from the story. Hiring replacement actors is more common in animated media than in live action. Voice actors are only heard, not seen, and since many voice actors are skilled at impressions, finding passable soundalikes is quite easy. Finally, The Other Darrin is pretty much inevitable for Long Running characters who aren't likely to go away any time soon (such as the Looney Tunes or Classic Disney characters, superheroes/villains, etc.)
  • Our Vampires Are Different: It seems like every other movie coming out right now is about vampires... but ones that sparkle.
  • Out-of-Context Eavesdropping: Played straight most of the time, but ripe for Lampshading or subversion.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: While this was once mostly played straight in The Golden Age of Animation because of Rule of Funny, newer works seem to be split between subverting it and playing it straight.
  • Phoneaholic Teenager: This one actually goes back to The '50s. Bell Telephone heavily pushed "you can have a phone in every room in your house", and young people were portrayed with a receiver pressed to their ear in all forms of popular media and merchandise.note  Subversions, deconstructions and parodies were done all throughout The '50s through the The '90s, and new technologies created after the Turn of the Millennium broke several aspects of the trope, like tying up a phone line for internet use after the rise of high-speed internet. However, the trope still gets played straight; with the rise of smartphones, teenagers began to be portrayed as using their phones for anything, looking up stuff for school, taking way too many selfies, or spending all their time checking social media.
  • Poor Man's Porn: Due to multiple governments' attempts at "opt-in" filters, this trope will be played straight until governments relax their attitudes towards it. Depending on the time and place, that may not be for a good while.
  • "Pop!" Goes the Human: Largely discredited, as it was pretty much born from an Urban Legend that if you eat too much, you will explode. However, works that don't take themselves seriously, and/or are not going for uber-realism will still use it (since it combines Vulgar Humor with Stuff Blowing Up).
  • Pounds Are Animal Prisons: Though this trope has largely been discredited due to animal welfare groups raising awareness of the plight of abandoned and abused animals, it’s sometimes played straight for Rule of Drama or Rule of Funny purposes.
  • The Power of Friendship and The Power of Love: Old and cliched? Yes. Does that stop people from using them today? Definitely no. Not only that, but both of them are still two good morals to teach to people (as long as you're not anvilicious about them).
  • Prank Call: Although caller ID makes this more difficult, it is possible to circumvent this by using a caller-ID blocking button sequence on the phone (which will make it show up as, depending on the phone company) "Unavailable," "Restricted," "Unknown," or "Private Number"), making it harder to know the identity of the caller. They can also be achieved by calling from cell phones, and especially anonymous VoIP numbers, which don't show names on caller ID unless you have that person in your contacts. Furthermore, sometimes the identity of the caller is known, and the callee plays along, such as if it's All Part of the Show. So, they are still doable, even as Technology Marches On.
  • Press X to Not Die: Despite being so hated among gamers and critics that their presence will earn significant points off review scores, these are still widely present throughout video games today.
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: As rap music, like rock 'n' roll decades before, has become mainstream enough that white people who enjoy or perform it aren't automatically labeled as posers, this trope has largely been re-evaluated as incredibly intolerant and bigoted and has become largely discredited (even then, some of the more famous rappers that popularized this trope, such as Eminem, Vanilla Ice and the Insane Clown Posse, had come from impoverished backgrounds and were engrossed in their local hip-hop scenes rather than imitating it). Not helping matters is that the trope was the grandchild of bigoted reactions to mainstream popularity of black-oriented genres, for example the disco backlash of the 1970s. However, works that want to criticize cultural appropriation will still use it.
  • Previously on…: Irrelevant on DVD season collections, but still in use because lots of people still watch shows as they air; or timeshifted, but without binging on several episodes at once.
  • Pro Wrestling Episode: Not nearly as ubiquitous as they used to be, possibly due to professional wrestling as a whole having declined in popularity since the end of the Monday Night Wars. And since Pro Wrestling Is Real is now a Discredited Trope, this makes potential plots less exciting for people who aren't wrestling fans since they don't care about the concept of Kayfabe. However, they still show up every now and then, especially in animated shows (which can still get away with playing Pro Wrestling Is Real straight).
  • Real Is Brown: Still used quite a bit during the 7th Generation (Xbox 360 + PlayStation 3), but big-name games are subverting it more and more due to the rise of real time Global Illumination, among other technologies. The 8th Generation is only seeing its use decrease further with the extra computational power present. The HDR technology which provides more vibrant colors and good contrast also means that most companies now aim for vibrant color schemes so they can ride on the current trends.
  • Recruit Teenagers with Attitude: Parodied and Deconstructed constantly, but is still around to this day. Even the Trope Namer, Power Rangers, has tried to Hand Wave the reasoning for the Big Good's recruitment of teenagers for a series' Ranger team, or has used adults as Power Rangers.
  • Rimshot: Playing a drum sting after the Punch Line is a cliché from the old-school Borscht Belt style of comedy, but its timeworn status makes it so corny that it can still get a good laugh, especially when used sarcastically after a joke that flopped.
  • Roll-and-Move: It's shunned by competitive board gamers, who feel that having a dice roll determine your movement makes a game too much of a Luck-Based Mission and gives players too little control over what happens. Few hobby games use it, and those that do use it put twists on it or go out of their way to provide players with options in other areas. However, while the mechanic is not as ubiquitous as it once was, it still sees use in family games due to its simplicity, in particular in games aimed at a young audience (which want to avoid complicated rules and tricky decisions) and games where the board mostly serves to provide some structure to the experience (e.g. Trivial Pursuit, which is primarily about answering questions). It also shows up in several family games considered classics (at least outside of hobby gamer circles).
  • Rule of Three: Parodied and lampshaded constantly, practically omnipresent all the same.
  • Santa Claus: He remains omnipresent in most Christmas-related episodes simply by the power of inertia. Unlikely to go away any time soon, since he is so firmly rooted in the public consciousness and pop culture.
  • Scare 'Em Straight: Omnipresent in PSAs and educational videos (as well as British PIFs), mocked and ridiculed everywhere else.
  • School Bullying Is Harmless: If only due to magazines like the UK's Take A Break and the general "real life" magazine genre, it's unlikely to go away any time soon, and so survives in limbo from becoming a Dead Horse Trope, or indeed a Discredited Trope.
  • Scoring Points: Recent games removed points entirely, or go as far as to mock the trope. Yet even today, many casual games and shmups still play it straight (mainly as a sop to hardcore players so they can compare scores). Non-redemption arcade games also still focus on scoring points to this day, with the exception of fighting games, as it's an easy way of showing off your superior skill (or luck). It's also a common win condition in Board Games even if some gamers find it boring.
  • Shop Fodder: Introduces an inventory management puzzle to treasure acquisition by withholding ready drops of currency for items of no use except to clutter inventory and offload for a handful of scratch. Such a venerable tradition of RPG games that even games that try to streamline gameplay for more action emphasis (or shoehorn RPG Elements) are frequently obligated to include it.
  • Short Title: Long, Elaborate Subtitle: While the trope is no longer prevalent in fiction outside parodies or throwbacks, in academia and nonfiction, this format is common and likely will not go away due to a necessity for clear titling that describes the work's subject.
  • Silly Love Songs: If you get rid of this, the entire popular music industry is screwed.
  • Slow Clap: The reason why it's still around is that this is a real phenomenon called "mob psychology".
  • Small Reference Pools: People write what they know.
  • Soul-Saving Crusader: Portraying the inquisition-minded fundamentalist worldview as absolutely correct fell out of favor with the rise of secularism. However, it's still used as an effective plot twist when it turns out that the zealots were right after all.
  • Sound-Effect Bleep: Bleeped swearing is comedy fodder more often than not nowadays, and with many shows moving to streaming platforms (which have fewer regulations than network TV), it has allowed uncensored swearing to become more common. While network TV still doesn't allow certain words, many programs will use alternatives to bleeping when censoring strong profanity. For example, live events such as sports or award shows will simply mute the swear rather than bleep it and scripted shows will either avoid using forbidden words altogether, or resort to Curse Cut Short. Despite this, bleeps are still sometimes used unironically (reality shows being a big offender).
  • Staging an Intervention: In serious examples, the person being intervened on has a real problem, and the people doing the intervention have good intentions. However, this is often subjected to parody.
  • Stalking Is Funny If It Is Female After Male: Like the aforementioned Double Standard tropes above, more people are critical of it than in the past, but it is still prominent in media and it probably isn't going to be discredited any time soon.
  • Star Trek Movie Curse: Not taken seriously anymore in regards to the Trope Namer after the lackluster reception of the 10th film, Star Trek: Nemesis, and the massive success of the 11th film, Star Trek (2009). Though some joke that the Turn of the Millennium actually reversed the curse, given the lukewarm reception to the 12th film, Star Trek Into Darkness, and the critical (if not commercial) success of the 13th film, Star Trek Beyond. Others try to list the Affectionate Parody Galaxy Quest as part of the lineup to keep the pattern consistent. In regards to other media, this trope still persists depending on the franchise.
  • Status Quo Is God: Misuses of this trope are often cited as the downfall of many long running works, as it often means Failure Is the Only Option for the cast's goals, and a stagnant plot. As a result, more works are putting a focus on a Myth Arc with a planned out ending. Of course, this doesn't stop other works from maintaining a status quo, and every work that has some form of normalcy to it will have to rely on this trope to varying extents.
  • Sting: The classic "Dun dun dun!" is parodied most often or subverted by having a character say it instead. Different types of stings are still played straight, but are generally parodied.
  • Stock Animal Diet: Although some of these are in fact Truth in Television, others (such as mice liking cheese or rabbits liking carrots non-stop) are unrealistic and even fatal in Real Life. Yet they are still used in modern media, especially in cartoons.
  • Stock Scream: The (in)famous Wilhelm Scream in particular. Moviegoers have divisive reactions to it, but sound editors in all media continue to use it, both ironically and unironically, either as an homage to the many other films that have used it, or because it's just too damn fun.
  • The Superhero genre has been repeatedly mocked and critiqued and yet the straight examples continue to be hugely popular.
  • Subverted Suspicion Aesop: While there's a reason why Subverted is in the title, aside from the fact that it can be a literal subversion, it still manages to be played straight.
  • Sympathetic Slave Owner: Though one would have expected this to immediately be discredited after Emancipation, lingering racism and Lost Cause mythology kept it alive for a century, and even after then, it’s such a useful way of showing Grey-and-Grey Morality to have a character own slaves because they were indoctrinated into such a culture, that it stays alive. There is also a kind of a double standard in fantasy settings when it comes to an ordinary human enslaved by a magician or a divine being, since it fits the religious archetype of the relationship between humans and God, and is often seen as a Misery Builds Character moment. Namely, if a Jerkass ends up a slave to a benevolent supernatural being, the servitude may be a way to help them become a better person.
  • Taking the Bullet: Despite the obvious comedic value of someone doing a Diving Save in front of something harmless (or better still, being just a bit off in the timing), this form of Heroic Sacrifice is still profound when played straight.
  • Talk About the Weather: What else are people going to make small talk about?
  • Teens Love Shopping: More works are realizing that stereotyping is not cool and many teens prefer to shop online than at malls, but the trope still gets used.
  • Tempting Fate: No one is ever surprised any more whenever something bad happens after this trope is invoked, yet it's unlikely that writers will ever stop using it nonironically.
  • Three Laws-Compliant: The Three Laws of Robotics are so frequently subverted, defied, and deconstructed in science fiction that they could easily be considered a Dead Horse Trope; after all, how else would a writer be able to create conflict in a story about robots, when robots couldn't instigate conflict (against humans)? However, the trope is so prevalent - and taken seriously - in the field of robotics that it will never truly be discredited.
  • Time-Shifted Actor: As a sub-variant of The Other Darrin (see above), it falls into this category nowadays thanks to Digital Deaging becoming more commonly used (as well as A.I.-generated speech in voiceover work). But there are instances where it makes more sense to use a Time-Shifted Actor, such as in low-budget projects or in cases where an adult character is then portrayed as a child or vice-versa. Not to mention that in many instances of Digital Deaging, body doubles are often used.
  • Training Montage: The version of this trope used in movies during the The '80s, usually set to the song "Gonna Fly Now", has been frequent parody fodder for a long time now. Training montages are still in use, but, unless it's in a comedy, they won't be set to triumphant power ballads anymore.
  • Trainstopping: One of the many Superhero stereotypes that has yet to die. Even Superman still does this once in a while.
  • Trans Equals Gay: What with more awareness of what being transgender actually is, the internet allowing more people to get the information when creating a trans character, and more trans characters being portrayed in media - the world is at least aware that gay and trans are not mutually exclusive. Although as it's possible for one to be both trans and gay, and some writers not doing their research, it does occasionally show up.
  • Transgender Fetishization: Despite being viewed as a transphobic stereotype nowadays, there are still a few prominent transgender characters, such as Birdo and Poison who are very flirty/hypersexualized.note 
  • Trapped in Another World: The "isekai" Otaku Wish-Fulfillment variant with RPG elements found in Light Novels has been mercilessly parodied and deconstructed, many recent works add absurd twists to the formula, and some light novel writing contests even went as far as banning isekai stories from being submitted entirely. Despite all this, straight examples are still being made and remain popular.
  • Two Decades Behind: Due to the age of most creators, and the fact that they might not stay on top of current trends or news due to their workloads.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Both audiences and critics lambast this trope for two reasons. One, it's often accused of giving homely men unrealistic expectations regarding the types of women they can attractnote . And two, it promotes a Double Standard regarding acceptable levels of attractiveness for men vs. women. While aversions do exist (Home Improvement, Shrek, American Dad! and Mike & Molly to name a few.), there are still plenty of straight examples in contemporary media and it will likely remain that way until Hollywood Beauty Standards as a whole become discredited. It helps that many modern shows using this trope will put emphasis on the problems that the looks discrepancy can cause in the relationship.
  • Unrelated Brothers: Kayfabe families were once very common in Professional Wrestling, but as of The New '10s they are almost nonexistent. Thanks to the internet, it's very easy for fans to find out whether or not wrestlers are actually related and modern wrestling storylines are more reality-based in response to this. Furthermore, pro wrestling is very much a family business, thus there are so many legitimate Wrestling Families nowadays that fake ones are unnecessary. Even Edge and Christian, who were initially billed as brothers, were later retconned into lifelong best friends as they are in real life. That being said, there are a few grandfathered cases hanging around and the trope is still sometimes played straight (such as Jason Jordan being the Kayfabe illegitimare son of Kurt Angle).
  • Utopia: This varies between deconstruction or reconstruction depending on the attitudes of the day. Occasionally played straight when discussing idealized worlds.
  • Very Special Episode: Although less used in Soap Operas and TV dramas, it's still played straight, and will keep going as long as dramas like Grey's Anatomy and reality TV series like On Patrol Live still exist.
  • Wangst: Nigh-on universal in the 2000s and early-2010s when Emo Teens were among pop culture's favorite punching bags, but nowadays seen as incredibly disrespectful once people began reckoning with the general lack of empathy towards people with legitimate emotional trauma and behavioral issues that riddled the 2000s. However, this trope still occasionally sees use, mainly because it can also show how a character will overreact.
  • A Winner Is You: Most endings of classic games from NES/SNES era were extremely simplistic. as time went by, the endings became more developed and even games with Excuse Plots started having elaborate endings, but even in the modern generations, there are still Shovelware games that have endings in the same vein as 8-bit games. Even blockbuster games sometimes have it; some games with Multiple Endings have this as Easy-Mode Mockery.
  • Work Off the Debt: Still appears in fiction even though, in most countries, a restaurant's only legal recourse to a customer being unwilling or unable to pay is civil action, which in almost any situation would be more expensive than it's worth. Additionally, there are likely certain legal problems involved with having someone working who is not actually on the payroll.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: Most pro wrestling holds and throws are impossible to perform without the assistance of the one being attacked, though it thrives due to Rule of Cool. Or the attackers just use moves that can be done for real against a resisting target, such as the German Suplex.
  • Wunza Plot: The police procedural is popular and provides an easy structure, so many shows get put into this format for convenience. Particularly obvious for adaptations where the original had nothing at all to do with criminal investigation (like iZombie or Lucifer), but when moved to television, sure enough, the main character has become half of a crime-fighting duo.
  • You All Meet in an Inn: Dates back to The Canterbury Tales, still prevalent in Tabletop RPGs.
  • You Fool!: Although considered by some to be cliche to the point of being impossible to take seriously, it is still played straight because it serves to elevate the villain above their minions and the hero by avoiding vulgar and colloquial terms.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Similar to vampires. However, it is more of a Cyclic Trope, due to the concept being kept in vogue by the extremely broad array of ways it is portrayed.