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Visual Novel Tropes

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Visual Novels are a relatively new medium. They are sometimes categorized as a genre of Video Games, as they are software-based, but given that the relationship ends here, they could also be considered another, independent medium of interactive fiction.

Some of their tropes are shared with Anime, mostly because Visual Novels are one of the three main adaptation sources for them, next to Manga and Light Novels. See also Interactive Storytelling Tropes.


Plot Tropes:

These are the unique cornerstones of Visual Novel storytelling that could theoretically happen in any medium, but for certain reasons, this format especially encourages them:

  • All Anime Is Naughty Tentacles
    A lot of people who aren't VN fans tend to assume that all visual novels are eroge. This was the case in the '00s, but more all-ages games and Bleached Underpants versions of adult games are more widely available in official versions.
  • Doorstopper
    It is common for these games to be very long and complex. Normal time for these games are around a full day or two, but several games can go upwards of three days of straight playing.
  • Eroge
    The genre of Visual Novels that have graphic sex scenes (regardless of their amount or significance in the work.)
  • Earn Your Happy Ending
    The more grimdark some Bad Ends can be, the more W.A.F.F. you can expect from the True End.
  • Featureless Protagonist
    Not showing the protagonist's face is an old tradition in the medium, even in cases, where, unlike the rest of the trope's examples, he does have a personality.
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  • For Want of a Nail
    Usually, totally different routes can be started by picking up a slightly different choice in the same decision.
  • Golden Ending
    From the Multiple Endings tradition. Usually known as 'Good End' or 'True End'. Many times it can only be achieved after going through many Bad Ends.
  • Harem Genre
    This setup commonly happens, but it's less prominent than in Harem Anime, because you can focus on one girl early on.
  • How We Got Here
    An extremely common way of starting the story, a few days into the future.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot
    Known in the fandom as Multiple Route Mystery
  • Ordinary High-School Student
    The most common protagonist type.
  • Porn Without Plot
    This subgenre of trashy, plotless eroge exists, but they are less likely to get English fan translations.
  • Porn with Plot
    These sort of eroge are more likely to get an English translation and get known outside Japan.
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  • Renai Game
    Romantic stories, one of the main genres.
  • Utsuge
    A genre name, meaning "Depressing game", usually based on romantic plots.

Interactivity Tropes:

These are the tropes that the medium shares with video games, originating from the choices that the player can make during the story:

Adaptation Tropes:

Due to their unique narrative structure, plot, and interactive nature, the adaptions of Visual Novels also have their recognizable quirks:

  • Anime of the Game
    Usually adaptions are focusing on one route, and importing minor parts of other routes into it.
  • Bleached Underpants
    Many anime adaptions can cut out not just the graphical sex scenes, but even the implication of sex, without heavily changing the plot. Also applies to many localized versions of the VNs themselves.
  • Visual Novel Shot
    A visual clue about the nature of the original source, in an anime adaptation.

Example of: