Follow TV Tropes

Following

Undead Horse Trope

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/wow_undead_horse.png
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, or it becomes widely disliked due to either overuse or changing values rendering it obsolete. 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 necessary 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. Other times a trope persists because many know it’s Truth in Television.

However, these kind of tropes can also persist simply due to The Generation Gap. Since most professional writers and creatives in general are usually in their thirties or older, they might end up using tropes that a lot of younger audiences may find outdated or even problematic. It's these kinds of tropes that potentially become Discredited or a Dead Horse eventually as older generations retire and younger generations take their place.

Compare and contrast Cyclic Trope and Evolving Trope; contrast Dead Unicorn Trope (which is mostly played for laughs or subverted, but unlike a Dead Horse Trope was never actually played straight to any significant degree).


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

    open/close all folders 

    A-L 
  • 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.
  • All Women Are Prudes: A stereotype that has also never fully died and is even embraced by some, despite the more relaxed attitudes towards sex that most of the West has now.
  • 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 a thing of the past. Additionally, many of the traits that once coded a character as possibly gay are themselves becoming discredited by the Camp Straight, Straight Gay, Lipstick Lesbian, and The Lad-ette and by other things too (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). A character's sexuality is more likely to be directly part of the story, although in media heavily policed by Moral Guardians (e.g. Western Animation targeted at kids) 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.
  • Animated Shock Comedy: The style of crass, anything-goes humor that shows like South Park and Family Guy popularized eventually came to be viewed as a pedestrian way to get cheap laughs at best and fostering an excessively cynical and joyless atmosphere at worst, and is now largely frowned upon. While new shows in the genre are still made, the better-received ones take active steps to avoid the pitfalls of their overtly nihilistic predecessors, featuring likable characters and relatable themes in-between their Black Comedy Bursts, and as a result now generally experience greater success than their more derivative contemporaries. South Park and Family Guy still get away with this style of humor, primarily because they always have, but the former eventually started mixing in elements of satire and current events to avoid growing stale, and the latter's increase in Vulgar Humor is frequently considered a symptom of an Audience-Alienating Era.
  • 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 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.
  • Basement-Dweller: In first world countries, the ever-increasing cost of living combined with low wages for entry-level jobs is making it nearly impossible for young, single adults to afford housing, leaving them with little choice other than to stay with their parents for a while (and many who were able to move out ended up having to return to their parents' house anyway after being wiped out by a recession). Despite this, the negative connotations of adults still living with their parents haven't completely faded away, either in fiction or in real life, especially in cases where the adult in question has no job and is not making any effort to get one. There's also a bit of Double Standard at play, since men who still live with their parents are a lot less likely to be portrayed in a positive light than women who still live with their parents. This is largely due to men having long been expected to be able to take care of themselves financially and it was common in the past for adult women to still live with their parents until they got married. Additionally, the long-standing tradition of women being caregivers would lead many to assume (rightly or wrong), that an adult woman still living at home is taking care of her old, sick parents or at least contributing to the household in some way. And since men are stereotyped as avoiding household duties as much as possible, a man still living with his parents is usually seen (again, rightly or wrongly) as a lazy manchild whose parents are still taking care of him.
  • 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.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: This carries some questionable implicationsExamples  and thanks to Hollywood Beauty Standards, even villainous characters are often above-average in looks nowadays; but this has existed in stories for millennia and will likely continue to be used for as long as humanity exists. After all, humans like to fantasize about characters who are both kind and beautiful.
  • 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, Black-and-Gray Morality and Grey-and-Gray Morality have 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 usually doesn't allow room for any moral ambiguity. White and Gray Morality could be considered an even lighter take that may show up in works aimed at young children, all-ages works or in The Moral Substitute, as But Not Too Evil often shows up in these kind of works.
  • 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 Is Bigger in Bed: Despite its historical origins being questionable, this is still pushed by various Hollywood producers (and, like its super-trope Bigger Is Better in Bed, is almost cliché in porn).
  • Bloodstained Defloration: In recent years, much ink has been spilt deriding the trope as both biologically and politically incorrect — the hymen as a reliable indicator of virginity has been discredited. Yet while not all women bleed the first time they have sex, some do. In terms of fiction writing, the trope has somewhat fallen out of use in part because it's become more socially acceptable since the mid-20th century for female participants in sexual relationships to simply not be virgins on consummation, but it remains common in some genres. This has left the trope in a weird position, both wildly criticized as fake and nonetheless a real experience for many.
  • 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.
  • Bumbling Dad: Another comedy staple (especially sitcoms) 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 chalking it up to developers being lazy).
  • Camp Gay and Butch Lesbian still show up in modern media despite being considered stereotypes, as these types of people do exist in real life even if they don't necessarily represent all queer people.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Bad guys who proudly flaunt their evil nature are seen by many as silly and unrealistic, yet are still among the most popular kinds of villains to this day, even in works with serious tones and/or aimed at older audiences. It should be noted in that case, Card-Carrying Villains tend to boast about their evilness in a much more subtle way than ones appearing in child-oriented and comedic fiction e.g. instead of going "Heeheehee! How frightfully evil I am!", they say something like "But of course." when called out on their crimes.
  • Cardboard Prison: Despite much mocking of this practice, it is still used regularly, especially in the superhero genre, because A) the heroes would have no one else to face if all the villains remained incarcerated, B) it would be too difficult to continue creating new villains, and C) the villains are often too popular to not continue using in new stories.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, but the trope does get parodied a lot as well.
  • 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.
  • Dance Party Ending: It's nowadays mocked by the audience for being used as a cheap way to express a Happy Ending, including when characters like villains drop the Out of Character ball to join the "fun" for no reason. The trope still stands up in light-hearted works like some family-friendly films.
  • 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 still common enough for this plot to make sense.
  • Death by Childbirth: Even though this is rare in developed countries, it does happen. There are still period pieces where it shouldn't be rare at all and it can still be high in underdeveloped countries.
  • 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: Almost any sitcom from The '90s onward features husbands being beaten, screamed at, and/or pushed around 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 men always want sex, 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, justified karma for certain evildoers) and even when male on male rape is Played for Drama, audiences often giggle at it anyway. The only time male on male rape tends to be taken completely seriously is if the male 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 but it is 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.
  • 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.
  • Enhance Button: Due to public becoming aware of how impossible enhancing in real life would not work, the subversions and parodies of this trope are very common to the point they outnumber straight examples.
  • 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. Some series that use this, such as South Park, can get away with it partially due to the Grandfather Clause.
  • 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.
  • Evil Laugh: Largely viewed as goofy and unrealistic, but it continues to be utilized by fictional villains because it's funny. 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 Faceless: A variation of this trope in the form of online creators has started to become less popular starting in the late 2010s, specifically with creators on YouTube. Many creators who started as one have since stopped or downplayed it, since the chances of getting more exposure on the site are much better if you can actually see what they look like. That said, there are still plenty of YouTubers who choose not to show their face online (usually out of shyness or are extremely protective of their privacy), preferring to be either a disembodied voice or use an avatar of some kind. Most Vtubers for instance are an example of the latter.
  • Females Are More Innocent: Despite this trope being seen as sexist or old-fashioned by many nowadays, as well as the existence of historical evidence and news reports about women committing deeds that are just as bad as men (or in some cases, even worse), it's still played straight in many works today, mainly because of how ingrained this idea has been in most parts of society for generations and is probably going to stick around for at least another few generations.
  • 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 an Evolved Trope. Some might argue that The Jerry Springer Show led the way and the Network Decay of TLC brought it back to vigorous health. Reality TV has benefited from this trope too.
  • Free-Range Children: Parents letting their kids wander all over the town or city unsupervised hasn't been the norm 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 than 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 is 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: Geeks and nerds have slipped into the mainstream and are no longer treated as outcasts, but that hasn't kept this trope from popping up here and there.
  • 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 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 (or at least non-atheists) 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 and Christopher Hitchens have fallen out with favor with those who aren't outspoken atheists/skeptics due to their controversial views and statements, most notably their blatant misogyny (such as the Elevatorgate fiasco) and their attempts to normalize and even defend blatant Islamophobia as "criticism of religion".
  • Hollywood Beauty Standards: Despite countless critiques of these standards as unrealistic and harmful for both women and men, it is still the norm in entertainment and isn't going away anytime soon because beauty is money.
  • Hollywood Genetics: People are more knowledgeable about inherited traits than in the past, yet this trope still persists to a degree. 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 dyeing, 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 even above-average looking 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 tasteless. (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.
  • Iris Out: An old movie and cartoon tool that became so cliché that variations and parodies were inevitable during The Golden Age of Animation, and there are time it's played straight in contemporary media.
  • Joke Character: The first Lethal Joke Character probably came around five seconds after the first Joke Character, and both are in wide use.
  • Joker Immunity: Undead for similar reasons to Cardboard Prison: the villains are too popular to ever kill off for real, and constantly coming up with new villains to replace them would be too difficult for long-running comics.
  • Kavorka Man: Despite being disliked by many viewers and critics for promoting a Double Standard regarding how attractive men and women are "allowed" to be, the trope will likely remain undead until the Hollywood Beauty Standards kicks it.
  • Kawaisa / Kawaiiko: 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 very often, to the point of being a tell for the genre. 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 which used a Studio Audience, have since ended. And yet despite this, some sitcoms still use laugh tracks or a Studio Audience, in particular BritComs due to the prevalence of panel shows with these traits (such as Would I Lie to You?), 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.

    M-Z 
  • 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: The belief that men are always horny is a large reason why tropes like All Men Are Perverts and Double Standard Rape: Female on Male 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: While the original implications of this trope have been lost now ("being gay is undesirable"), this is way too ubiquitous in real life to ever really die or get fully discredited in media. Nowadays, when a work uses this trope, a "Not That There's Anything Wrong with That" line after the initial confusion usually follows, just to make it clear that it isn't trying to be offensive.
  • Most Writers Are Adults: Despite audience scrutiny, it remains undead for two reasons: one, many writers are unable to accurately relate to a child's mentality, especially if they don't have kids themselves. And two, it would be hard to tell a compelling story about child protagonists if they acted like actual children, especially for young children under the age of ten.
  • 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 former supreme chancellor heavily preferred and insisted on pushing for guys who look like bodybuilders).
  • Neck Snap: Even though it's nearly impossible to break a person's neck with your bare hands in real life and broken necks aren't lethal unless the spinal cord is severed, this still shows up in media, likely because it's a brutal method of execution that doesn't require any blood or gore. It helps that most characters seen performing it nowadays are stated or implied have Superhuman Strength.
  • Nerds Are Virgins: Even though nerds are slowly sliding into the formerly acceptable target 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 CGI, 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 either delaying these things until later in life when (or if) they become more financially stable, or rejecting them 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. Though whether or not some of them (such as an extended family of aunts, uncles, and cousins living together) counts as an alternative family, an extension of, or a straightforward example of a Nuclear Family is a hotly debated topic.
  • The Other Darrin: Nowadays, if an actor dies, gets fired, quits, retires, or can't reprise their role for other reasons, the creators are more likely to either kill off the character or write them out of the story than recast them. 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 inevitable for Long Running characters who aren't likely to go away any time soon (such as the Looney Tunes, Classic Disney characters, the Super Mario Bros., 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.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Despite the subversions or straight-up aversion of this trope in a lot of modern science-fiction such as Star Trek and Star Wars; straight examples do pop up from time to time. Usually as a form of Author Tract or Wish-Fulfillment on the creator's end.
  • 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 unless said 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 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 or worse, 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, but even there said Unfortunate Implications can apply.
  • 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: Its straight usage peaked during the 7th Generation (Xbox 360 + PlayStation 3), but big-name games are averting it more and more due to the rise of real time Global Illumination, among other technologies. The 8th Generation saw 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. Today, during the 9th Generation of consoles, this trope is only played straight in the context of dark and gritty games, such as The Last of Us 2 and the Demon's Souls remake.
  • Real Men Love Jesus: The decline of Rated M for Manly, as well as increased secularization in the West has made this trope a lot rarer, but it may pop up every now and then in the form of the Token Religious Teammate. It's also very much alive in religious media (more literally so in Christian and Islamic media) for obvious reasons.
  • 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).
  • Rotoscoping: It's been derided as a lazy, cheap substitute for actual animation by many animators and critics (thanks in part to another trope it inevitably invokes). That said however, it still pops up every now and then, mainly for stylistic purposes (such as intentionally invoking the Uncanny Valley) rather than as a cost-saving measure. Its more modern equivalent, Motion Capture, is still used in CGI, but primarily for live-action films and video games.
  • Rule of Three: Parodied and lampshaded constantly, practically omnipresent all the same.
  • Santa Claus: He remains omnipresent in most Christmas-related media 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. Parodies do exist, such as the Bad Santa, but they will likely never outright replace straight examples.
  • 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: Games after 2000s largely removed points entirely when they don't matter, 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: While they're often mocked, hence the "silly" in the trope title, 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 typically 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: 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. 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 sometimes 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. More recently, there was the spike in popularity of the Hero's Slave Harem trope in Japanese media.
  • 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: Commonly joked about, but still played straight because, well, it's easy to make small talk about...
  • Teens Love Shopping: More works are realizing that stereotyping is not cool and many teens prefer to shop online rather 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, a writer can't create conflict in a story about robots where robots can'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: Digital De-Aging (as well as A.I.-generated speech in voiceover work) mean the same actor can play the same character in multiple stages of their life — 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. Many iinstances of Digital Deaging use body doubles anyway.
  • 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.
  • Trapped in Another World: The "isekai" Otaku Wish-Fulfillment variant with RPG elements, frequently found in Light Novels, became a ubiquitous fad genre in Japanese media in The New '10s. Consequently it 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.
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change: It's become such a cliché, especially during the second half of the twentieth century, that it's now almost impossible to play it completely straight anymore. By the The New '10s, usage of the trope had declined to where only one Billboard #1 hit in the entire decade used a key change. However, it's still quite common in some genres, especially Power Metal, where cheese is considered a badge of honor.
  • 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 detest this trope for promoting a Double Standard regarding acceptable levels of attractiveness for men vs. women. While aversions do exist (Home Improvement, Shrek, and Mike & Molly to name a few), there are still plenty of straight examples in contemporary media and it will likely remain that way unless Hollywood Beauty Standards as a whole become discredited in the future. 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 illegitimate son of Kurt Angle).
  • Useless Useful Spell: The presence of this trope, especially in role-playing games, is often taken as a sign of undesirable game design, and developers over time have tried to avoid it by giving such skills more use in various situations. But many games still play it straight because they often run into balance issues before release, usually too powerful for their own good, and the quick solution for removing Game-Breaker is to Nerf them into this.
  • 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.
  • Virgin-Shaming: Even though real-world statistics are showing that many younger Millennials and Zoomers are losing their virginities a few years later in life than their older peers did, it's still common for media to portray anyone who's over the age of seventeen and still a virgin — especially if male — as a socially-inept loser at best and a dangerous Stalker with a Crush towards any woman (and sometimes even man) who shows him even the smallest amount of positive attention at worst, and mock him for it. Not helped by the rise of the highly misogynistic "incel"note  community, which has churned out a large number of mass shooters (most notably Elliot Rodger) who claim to have been at least partially motivated by their sexlessness.
  • 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, and the audience reaction can still happen if the reason the character is sad is clearly not emotional trauma or behavioural issues.
  • 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.


Top