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Welcome to the nitty gritty. This is an index of all the guidelines on TV Tropes as well as helpful hints on how to perform basic tasks and explanations of wiki terminology. We know this stuff can be a bit intimidating, so we've broken it down for you.

Remember, if you really get lost and can't find what you're looking for, relax and Ask The Tropers.

Welcome to TV Tropes!

It's always hard to figure out where to start on a new website. If you're looking for the very basics, see below.


The Basics and the Rules

So you want to be an editor. For edititg the wiki pages, here are the more important pages to look at.

  • How to Write an Example: Ever want to know how we make the examples so fun to read? Just follow these simple steps.
  • Text Formatting Rules: Use this page to make sure that your examples are clear, readable, and fun.
  • Tips For Editing: Things to keep in mind for your first foray into editing.
  • What Goes Where on the Wiki: A basic outline of the types of wiki pages.
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  • Creating New Pages: Everything you wanted to know about making a new page but were afraid to ask.
  • How Indexing Works: A basic overview of how to get pages to show up on indexes. Remember to index new pages.
  • Crosswicking: Making sure that all the links on work and trope pages correspond with each other. Remember to crosswick new examples.

The Rules

For the guidelines of comportment in discussion all over the site, read this thread. The following are additional rules that come up frequently when editing the wiki.

    open/close all folders 

Navigating the Site

    Discussion Areas 
There are a few places around the wiki that might aid you in your journey. Here are some links to serve as your initial roadmap.

  • Ask The Tropers: Here you can ask fellow tropers any questions you have about the wiki. Also to report problems with other tropers.
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  • Query Wishlist: If you have a spiffy new idea for our tech, put it here!
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  • Trope Launch Pad (aka TLP or YKTTW): This is the place to propose a new trope article. You may also use it for works.
  • Trope Finder: Here's the place to ask "Do we have this one?" and "What's the trope about...?"
  • You Know That Show: The place to ask for help identifying a work, when you only remember one or a few things about it.

    People of the Wiki 
These are the strange beings known as tropers that you may encounter in your wiki wanderings.

  • The Contributors: You the tropers! The very backbone of the wiki.
  • Know the Staff: The monkeys hard at work making sure that things run smoothly.
  • 5P: A panel of tropers dedicated to making sure that the wiki doesn't descend into a wretched hive of scum and villainy.

The How-To Section

    How To Guides 

    Useful Places 
  • Cut List: Where to go if you need an page deleted.
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  • Image Pickin': The section of the TV Tropes Forum where Tropers go to discuss the images on trope and work pages.
  • Itty Bitty Wiki Tools: Some technical tools to help with obscure jobs.
  • Locked Pages: A list.
  • Media Uploader: A tool Known Tropers can use to upload images for use on the site, typically for illustrating articles. It's located on wiki pages beneath the "More" dropdown as well as threads in the Image Pickin' forum.
  • Permanent Red Link Club: There are some pages that have been permanently removed and then locked.
  • Renamed Tropes: An archive of names that were renamed.
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  • Trope Repair Shop: To rename, cleanup, or otherwise "repair" page articles.
  • Wiki Sandbox: Built for experimentation.
  • YMMV Redirects: These are redirects which should be marked with the red YMMV bullet point in "work" articles.

    Style and Other Questions 
Some of the more important style guides:

These style guides are too large to go in the main style guide:

The Tv Tropes Style Guide: A comprehensive guide to all the other editing rules that rarely come up.

Random Wiki Stuff

    The Long Term Projects 

     Wiki Historical Pages 
Stuff that was, but no longer.

Yes, we know tropers seem to have our own vocabulary. A lot of it is based on the tropes that we catalog, but we understand the need for a lexicon. To help with this, we have created the TV Tropes Glossary, and also the What Page Types Mean page, and also the Predefined Messages page, but here are a few basic terms to keep in mind.

  • Blue Link: A link that is blue and leads to another page.
  • CamelCase: The basic way to make a wiki word by writing words that run together and all start with capital letters.
  • Creators: The people who make media.
  • Dead Link: A hyperlink that no longer works or takes its clicker to somewhere unintended.
  • Example Sectionectomy: Any time the example section is cut or trimmed.
  • In-Universe: Tropes that usually apply to audiences but instead apply to characters in a work.
  • Known Troper: A troper who is signed in with a username.
  • Namespace: The part of a wiki URL between "pmwiki.php" and the article's name.
  • Pothole: A trope linked from text other than its title.
  • Red Link: A true door to nowhere. These links are red and lead to blank pages.
  • Sub Wiki: A name for pages that are all in one namespace which are either narrowly focused, like Character Sheets, or are simply fun things to think about in the context of a particular trope or work.
  • Trope: A narrative device or convention used in media.
  • Wiki Curator: A type of wiki contributor, a wiki curator acts in many of the same ways a museum curator does.
  • Wiki Word: Writing the words of a page title in such a way that they become a Blue Link.
  • Works: Media such as a series, or a discrete item like a movie or novel.



Test page for potential style guide:

War 877#BrevityIsWit <— example link 1

War 877#AmericanAndCommonwealthSpellings <— example link 2

    open/close all folders 

    Brevity is Wit 
"My liege, and madam, to expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
What day is day, night night, and time is time,
Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time;
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief."
Polonius, Hamlet Act II Scene II Line 85-92

Brevity is... wit.
- William Shakespeare
—- A sign seen in the Reader's Digest offices in an episode of the Simpsons

Adding more words to something doesn't justify it: in fact, the more you write, the more they can't read. Avoid Word Cruft, Purple Prose and empty descriptions in writing your examples or engaging in conversation.

Conversely, however, Zero Context Examples or a noun followed by "That is all/Enough said" is boring. The use of few words isn't witty when they're the same few words with no meaning pertaining to the subject.

This is the motto of Laconic Wiki. For use of this guideline as a trope, see Beige Prose.

Polonius does not follow his own advice. Most don't realize.

    Edit Reasons and Why You Should Use Them 
There is a small box under each page in editing view that allows you to leave an (optional) edit reason. While edit reasons are indeed optional, they are often a very good idea, for both adding information and removing it.

When adding information, leaving an edit reason is often a good idea for the following reasons:

  • It clarifies why you chose to add the information, and what your rationale is for posting it. Of course, some edits adding information are self-evident (e.g. examples) and therefore don't need an edit reason. Others (especially those making major changes to a page's information via addition, adding recent information or information not widely known) are far less self-evident, and an edit reason is therefore a good idea.
  • While edit reasons are not and should not be citations, they can be used to verify content as being something legitimately added in good faith rather than vandalism or trolling. This is very important, especially when changing a page to reflect something like a creator's death, or a trope generally seen to be a trope that's hard to use well or having Unfortunate Implications in a work, where a vandal edit may very well be a problem.
  • It points to exactly what you've changed on the page as a quick reference, especially if it is a major change. Or even if it's a minor change—take pity on the poor troper who scours a paragraph looking for what you edited and not realizing you simply added a comma in the center of it.

When removing information, leaving an edit reason is even more vital because of the following reasons:

  • It says exactly why you've removed the information.
  • It helps people to understand why the information was undesired in the first place. As in, if you are going so far as to remove information someone has taken time to share, it's only polite to tell them why. In the cases of things such as natter and NSFW links, some new users may be genuinely unaware that Conversation in the Main Page or linking to a Gelbooru pool is unwelcome and unwanted. Leaving a polite edit reason linking to the page on the policy related to the removed material is a courtesy that may help them to become a productive editor.
  • It prevents the information from being re-added, at least without a discussion. A removal without a reason (or with a rude or unrelated one) is an invitation to begin Edit Warring, especially for a newbie who doesn't understand how things work around here.
  • It shows the removal to be in good faith, rather than a case of page blanking, vandalism, or trolling.
  • It documents what has been removed.

When removing information, it's also a good idea to leave an edit reason for each removal.

  • If the cleanup is something where all removals have the same reason, such as cleaning natter and the only edits are the natter removals, it's probably not necessary to leave a reason for each.
  • On the other hand, if your edit reason is "natter", but you've taken out one line of natter while you've also taken out a huge chunk of the main description of the work, several tropes that seemed to apply, and cut out non-lewd trope descriptions to leave several tropes with a near Zero-Context Example, your one reason edit may be seen as an excuse for nonconstructive editing.

A null edit is the process of opening the edit page screen, then immediately saving it without making any changes. There are a few reasons why you might make one.

  • To leave a reason relating to a previous edit. This will only show up on the page history, not the actual page. These can be used to do things like explain someone else's edit (or your own, if you forgot to leave one on the last edit you made), e.g. if they deleted YMMV items off a main work page without moving them or saying they were going to, you could leave an edit reason noting that you had ensured they were all moved.
  • Edit reasons like this can also be for stuff relating to Edit Wars. If there's an example that's been removed a couple times in quick succession, an edit reason like "Taking it to the discussion page" will encourage tropers to go there rather than continuing the war. It also tells anybody with the page on their watchlist that more is happening, whilst not continuing the edit war. The example can then be discussed in depth.
  • Sometimes, you need a null edit to get indexing to kick in. This can happen if a page is namespaced on an index, but isn't moved there yet, and the index bar doesn't show up at the bottom of that page. A null edit to the index page fixes this. An edit reason like "indexing trouble" is fine, though you don't really need one at all.
  • Similarly to the above, due to the custom-title system, if a page is cut, all pages with the same title in all namespaces will all be displayed as a Red Link. Example  Null editing such a page will correct this problem.

Coolness and Rudeness

Please be cool when you edit.

Being cool when you edit means to keep your edit reasons somewhat concise (if you can't sum up your edit reason in 50 words or less, you should probably link the discussion page instead of using the edit reason box for it, and sermonizing in edit reasons is incredibly uncool).

It also means being clear in your edit reason - see the point above on removing material. Sometimes a simple "added event xyx" can be cool if you're adding information, for example, or if you're removing a bad link, "Links to gelbooru pools violate policy" is better than "Ewwwww I don't want to see that shit!"

Keep your mood in mind. If you're having a bad day or in a bad mood in the first place, it's probably a good idea not to go editing. TV Tropes is not your job (even though it can feel like it), so you're not obligated to work on it no matter your mood. If you find you're finding stupidity that needs to be removed wherever you go and it's irritating you more and more, taking a break is probably a good idea. Likewise, don't use this kind of editing as a way of getting your stress out.

Rudeness is not cool

A rude edit reason includes, but is not limited to, any of the following:

  • A personal attack on an editor, e.g. "Report Siht is a basement dwelling otaku," or a removal with "Comments such as this are the reason why all people like you suck."
  • An attack on the quality of previous editors' contributions, e.g. "Nobody cares" or "Who gives a fuck?"
  • Hate speech, e.g. "You're all [homophobic slur]," or "[racial slur]s"
  • Trying to intentionally bait for an Edit War, e.g. "Put that back I dare you"
  • Gratuitous swearing not on an article like Cluster F-Bomb. If your edit reason contains "fuck", it will be blanked.
  • "Correcting" information with subjective opinion, e.g. "Actually, Cloud x Tifa is the OTP so I have removed your reference to the Aerith date scene, as it shouldn't have ever existed."
  • Threats, e.g. "I have removed your information and am contacting my lawyer," or "Say that to my 357 Magnum, asshole"
  • "Defending" a page from editors you don't want there, e.g. "This is my page, don't edit it" or "This page is about Uber Manly Testosterone Poisoning Combat: USMC BAMF, we don't want you saying that about Steele and Stone!" This is especially rude because we welcome all constructive editors and any page may be edited by any person as long as it is not locked.

     Example Indentations in Trope Lists 
There has been some confusion about how a list of examples, or anything else, should be indented/bulleted. Here we go with an answer.

The shortest version: For any indentation level other than single bullet, if there is only one item at the indentation level, it ain't indented right.

For more detail than that:

On a works page, for example, we have a list of trope names. These get one bullet (*). If there is more than one example of the trope in the work, each of them gets two bullets (**) on their own line. If there is only one example, it goes on the line with the trope title. Like this:

  • Trope Name: In episode "The Episode" (1x1), Alice uses this trope to...
  • Another Trope:
    • In "Another Episode" (1x2), Alice bangs it out...
    • In "Yet Another Episode" (1x3), Bob subverts it when...

In a situation where the text of a bullet is too long, or needs a paragraph break for some other reason, we don't add the text in with another bullet (** ), we use the \\ markup to force a paragraph. Like this:

  • Yet Another Trope:
    • In "Finale" (1x13), Alice bangs it out at great length.\\
      So much length, we need multiple paragraphs to explain the length.
    • In "Finale" (1x13), Bob subverts it. That's what he does. He's subversive.

On a trope page, you will sometimes run into a situation where you want to list multiple examples from the same media or series. Don't list one example, and then indent the others under it. Instead, use:

  • Alice and Bob:
    • In episode 2, this trope occurs when...
    • In episode 21, this trope occurs again when...


  • Alice and Bob Trilogy:
    • In Alice Alone, the trope is seen...
    • In Bob Meets Alice, we see the trope again when...

Whenever the works are in different franchises, each separate franchise gets its own first-level point. Let's say Claire and David and Alice and Bob are two shows. Each should have a separate first-bullet point.


  • Alice and Bob: this trope is used when...
  • Claire and David: this trope is used when...


  • Claire and David: this trope is used when...
    • Alice and Bob used it too when...

Third bullets

A three-bullet situation (***) usually indicates a comment on the item above it which has two bullets. This is a sign that the list is heading toward Thread Mode (discussion). That's not a good thing. The trope lists are not discussions. Discussions take place on the discussion pages or in the forums. However, three-bullet situations sometimes are legit. Rarely. If you find yourself needing a third level of indentation, take a look at using a header, instead.

A legitimate three-bullet situation might look something like this:

  • Alice and Bob Franchise:
    • Alice Meets Bob: The trope is in full effect in the opening sequence, when...
    • Alice Vs. Bob: The Reckoning:
      • When Bob is walking up to Alice...
      • In the background of the bar scene, you can see...
    • Alice, Bob, and Carol: In an echo of Alice Meets Bob...

...Or this:

  • Trope:
    • Alice displays this trope well on many occasions:
      • Alice Meets Bob has her demonstrating this trope twice when she is in Bob's house.
      • She also shows this in Alice, Bob, and Carol around the climax.
    • Bob has his own chance to shine in Alice Vs. Bob: The Reckoning.

This is a widely accepted style standard, folks. Not something we just made up around here because we were bored.

Super-Trope-Sub-Trope sorting

All tropes in a list should be at the same level of indentation, and in alphabetical order. See How to Write an Example. Subtropes should not be listed in sub-bullets beneath their parent tropes.

The same applies for composite tropes like Five-Man Band.



Quote indentation

When multiple examples within a list have quotes, you need to make sure to indent and separate them correctly. A quote is designated with the "->" markup, with additional hyphens ('-') increasing indentation. You always want the quote indentation to be one level deeper than the bullet that they are related to.


  • Badass Boast:
    • Alice tells Bob that she's going to beat up everyone.
      Alice: I'm going to beat up everyone!
    • Charlie has had enough of Alice's fooling around.
      Charlie: Alice, I am far more awesome than you.


  • Badass Boast:
    • Alice tells Bob that she's going to beat up everyone.
    Alice: I'm going to beat up everyone!
    • Charlie has had enough of Alice's fooling around.
    Charlie: Alice, I am far more awesome than you.

Of note, each quote should have explanatory example text. Don't leave a quote hanging without a parent bullet unless it applies to the same example as the previous one. In the latter case, separate distinct quotes with a forced line break, using \\ on a blank line. This should be used only rarely.


  • Badass Boast:
    • Alice tells Bob that she's going to beat up everyone.
      Alice: I'm going to beat up everyone!
    • Charlie has had enough of Alice's fooling around.
      Charlie: Alice, I am far more awesome than you.

      Charlie: Alice, the time has come to show you how the big kids do things.


  • Badass Boast:
    Alice: I'm going to beat up everyone!

    Charlie: Alice, I am far more awesome than you.

    Charlie: Alice, the time has come to show you how the big kids do things.

    How to Pick a Good Image 
So, you want to find a good image for a page. The image is a great attention-grabber; it's likely to be the first thing a person sees when the page loads. In a page about the work, a good image will introduce the work; in a trope page, it will illustrate the trope and help the reader understand it. Just like a good name, a good image follows the mantra "clear, concise, and witty" (in descending order of importance). There are a lot of good ways to go about making sure our images are clear, concise, and witty... let's look at them.

Image Pickin'

Works pages

  • The most common picture for a works page is a title screen or box art. It's what most people will see when they look in the store for a copy, and images are fairly easy to come across.
  • Official promotional art such as movie posters are common, including cast pictures. This is particularly common when the actual cover is a flat color and a logo or something similarly minimalist.
  • Unlike many other types of work, Fan Fiction, Webcomics, and Web Original have relatively easy-to-access creators. If you want to know what they'd prefer, send them a simple email with links to both the site and the page in question. For instance, this was how the page images for xkcd and Darths & Droids were chosen.

Quality of image

  • Some images simply have bad image quality (compression artifacts, pixelation, and so on). This detracts from what the image is showing, and simple quality upgrades are something you don't even need to ask to replace. For example: Giant Enemy Crab had this image, but we replaced it with this higher-quality version of the same thing. This is a free action: You don't need discussion or approval to swap in a higher-quality version of the previous image, you can just do it yourself and be on your way.
  • Size limits do exist. The maximum width is set to 350 pixels, both on the wiki and in the forums. If you need to shrink an image to this size, it may not be a good image anymore (either due to introducing compression/resize artifacts, or by just the details becoming too small to make out). There is no maximum height, but if it has to be much taller than 350 or so pixels to be clear, it may not be a good image.
  • If you need to resize an image and don't like working with MS Paintnote  or other programs, you can use pic resize to do it.

Images on the wiki

  • Pages with quotes should have the image on the right side (you can learn how to do this on Text Formatting Rules).
  • If the image is rather tall, move it to the right as well.
  • Modifying images to work better, or building a collage are allowed and sometimes preferred over individual, unmodified pictures.
    • Comics (i.e. newspaper comic strips) in particular are frequently modified to fit within the 350 pixel width. If a comic is too wide, a common solution is to stack the panels vertically.
    • Single images are usually sufficient; however, with some tropes, especially those that deal with changes or comparisons, it may be necessary to have a multipart image.
  • Troper-made images are fine. If you have artistic skills and would like to make an image for a page, go for it; just look at the List of Pages Artists Can Illustrate to get started. (Dug Too Deep is one such example.)
  • If there's more than one good image, feel free to start an Image Links Wiki for the page.
  • If a trope has medium-specific subpages, images that aren't medium neutral belong on the appropriate medium subpage.

Safe For Work

  • The wiki aims to be safe for work in its images. Avoid Gorn, nudity, and Squick.

Copyright and Fair Use

  • If an image has a little copyright stamp (©) on it, we can't use it.
  • The same goes for watermarks of ownership; attempting to remove them is too much work (and, as a Rules Lawyer points out, against the DMCA). Note that "station bugs" (watermark-like logos in the corner, added by a broadcasting TV station) are not the same as an artist/owner's watermark, though pictures still look nicer without them.
  • "Artist scribbles" and signatures are fine.
  • Taking screenshots or scans for illustrative purposes on this Creative Commons wiki falls under fair use.
  • Real Life pictures: although This Very Wiki documents devices in fiction, sometimes a real life picture is the best available (Schmuck Bait is an example).
  • Having the artist's permission is always a Good Thing. If you want to use an artist's work as a page image, it is common courtesy to send an email to the artist and ask for their permission (first!). Here is an example that was sent and responded to with permission:

    Hello Dalgarra,

    I am seeking permission to use this picture of yours for the page image of the trope, Villain Decay. If this is alright, please respond to the email or comment in the discussion here. If you wish us to not use your image, it will be changed, if you give permission but want a specific link please respond.

  • Original art (from DeviantArt, Flickr, etc.) may be Creative Commons licensed. If you see that, go ahead and use the picture but be sure to follow the CC terms, especially BY (give the artist credit — a link back to their website in the caption generally suffices and is a good thing to do anyway) and Remix (if it doesn't have this it means you aren't supposed to alter the image; resizing is probably OK). NC (non-commercial) and SA (share-alike) are covered by the wiki's CC license.


  • Which tropes don't have images?: There is a tool that lists tropes without images - see Tropes Needing Images.
  • Visual Aid: Unlike Works, page images for trope pages are there to help explain the trope, not just provide an example above the example line.
  • Why are Comics, Manga, and Web Comics so popular?: Because the addition of Speech Bubble allows the image to include Dialogue on top of visualizations, something which multimedia works lack. This, combined with a distinct lack of Motion Blur, leans toward a dominance of these images.
  • The image is not an example entry: the part of the page above the "examples" line is for explanation and related tropes, the part below is for examples. The image is above this line, unless it's too tall. Being the best/earliest example is not the same as conveying the trope to other people. The goal of an image is to Show, Don't Tell.
  • Captions can help: A picture can need a caption to make the final leap, as long as it tells the story right up to the point where the caption closes the gap.
  • Memes: They're verboten unless, of course, the page is actually about the meme in question.
  • How can I tell if it's a good picture if I'm very familiar with the work? Ask yourself "If I had no exposure to the source work, would this image still make sense to me?" If you're not sure about the answer, go ask in Image Pickin', there are bound to be a few people who wouldn't know it from a hole in the ground who can help put it in perspective.
  • A composite picture: Sometimes an image consisting of several examples of this trope shows how a common trope manifests in different works. This works better with tropes that are in Spectacle category and some of the video game tropes. Note and labelnote markers can be used to list the works the examples are from.

  • What makes a good image (and caption)?
    • Show, Don't Tell. Visual aids are great to help explain the trope.
    • Synergy between caption and image where they work together very well to show what's going on. The proper balance is commonly that the picture (being the first thing seen) works as the set up to a joke, with the caption functioning as the punchline.
    • Quotes from the same work or instance tend to make good captions.
    • Snark, while not discouraged, is a good second to a meaningful quote.

  • Things to avoid
    • Just a Face and a Caption: The visual equivalent of a Zero-Context Example. Most of the time, they only make sense if you're already familiar with the work and the trope. Read the link for more details about why this is a bad idea.
    • Heavy stylized drawing styles. If a picture is heavily stylized (and not to illustrate a trope about that style in question), it's harder for people to decipher what is going on in there.
    • Wall of Text. If the image is nothing but a paragraph of text with a character drawn so that there's somewhere to stick a Speech Bubble, it's not a great image ... but it might make a good quote though.
    • "If you read the example, this makes perfect sense" is not a good way to explain the trope (see the first point).
    • As stated before, meme-based pics of any kind aren't welcome.
    • Entry Pimping. The image is not there solely to bring your favorite work to the attention of others.note 
    • Spoilers. There's no code for spoiler-tagging an image for people who don't want to see things spoiled. And once you've seen a spoiler, you can never un-see it. Images tend to draw peoples' attention (they are even shown on our Google search results), Most peoples' eyes are immediately drawn to images anyway
    • Images based on a Literal-Minded interpretation of the trope's title can be misleading. For example, Pet the Dog is not about petting dogs, it's a metaphor, which is a reason that the page features a kitten instead.
    • Captions are not mandatory. If a caption text only says "The Trope Namer", "X shows us how it's done", "One of these things is not like the others", etc, this is actually worse than having no caption at all (compare first point).

  • Not Picturable. Sometimes a trope is too text- or plot- dependent for an image to work, and the better option is to just leave the page imageless than put an image that would confuse the reader even further. Don't fret, it happens.


  • Most images don't have the title of the work in them — which is a problem, since people will likely want to know what work an image is from. Fortunately, we have ways of getting around this — the most common method is to simply wrap the image itself in a Pot Hole link, making the image clickable. See Text Formatting Rules for how to do this.
  • Multisource works. When an image is a parody of another, such as a gaming webcomic or something, the preferred potholing method is the image pointing to the parody source, and the caption pointing to the parodied work. If there's multiple source works, a note or labelnote with a list of the characters named and potholed is preferred. Most Common Super Power is an example.
  • Non-potholed images that you've found can be potholed to the appropriate work if you know it.
  • If a Real Life image is chosen, you can either pothole to Real Life or don't pothole it at all.
  • If an image is not potholed or sourced in some way, bring it up in this thread.
  • Do Not pothole an image to an outside site, the "external link" widget messes with the code and looks funny hanging off an image. Put the outside link in the caption if needs to be there.


  • When multiple good images are proposed for a trope with no consensus on which one should be used, create a crowner by copying this URL, replacing the "InsertTropeNameHere" in the url with the name of the trope, then pasting it in a new browser tab. Then click "Yes, do it" when asked to create the crowner. Link to it in the Image Pickin' thread, and holler for a mod to attach the crowner to the thread.
  • The purpose of the crowner is to decide between multiple images that are all equally illustrative of the trope. If an image has been determined not to illustrate the trope (or to illustrate the wrong trope), don't put it on the crowner.
  • Crowners are generally left open until voting slows down. All crowners must be open for voting for at least three "business days" — i.e. if the third day falls during a weekend, the crowner is left open until Monday, as forum traffic tends to slow during the weekend.

Helpful links

    Missing Supertrope 
Sometimes a trope is limited, but people put examples and wicks that are broader, due to lack of a Super-Trope that covers the broader definition.

This is a frequent cause for problems on TV Tropes. Square Peg, Round Trope examples tend to be a sign that a trope (or a group of Sister Tropes) has one or more underlying concepts that cover less specific situations.

When an editor wants to list an example that shares the underlying concept, but doesn't actually match the specific Trope(s), they will tend to add it to one (or more) of the pages, perhaps saying that it is "a variation" or "not a straight example". Sometimes these entries are decidedly in violation of the page's definition, making it textbook Square Peg, Round Trope. When multiple editors start using the same "variations", it is a form of Trope Decay.

Why does it happen? It's a lot easier for editors to propose (and write up) tropes of specific concepts than the more general ones that underlie them. It's often the case that a new trope was inspired by one specific example, and the troper found enough similar examples that a trope could be formed.

Signs a trope may be suffering from Missing Supertrope Syndrome

  • Word Cruft to fit examples into the definition.
  • Generic name for a specialized trope.
  • Multiple sister tropes without a parent trope (or index).

The simplest fix is to go to the Trope Launch Pad, create the supertrope, and migrate any misplaced examples and wicks to the correct trope. Usually, that's all that's necessary. Depending on how far the symptoms have progressed, more drastic action might be needed. In some cases, tropes have accumulated so much misuse for their supertrope that we've had to give them the full Trope Transplant, broadening the trope to accommodate the Trope Decay and launching a new trope to salvage legitimate examples of the more narrow subtrope; this is mostly for specific tropes that have overly-general names. Other times, the narrower trope might be The Same, but More Specific, and once the supertrope is in place, the subtrope is no longer necessary and we just redirect it to the parent trope.

    Prescriptive Vs. Descriptive Language 
In a nutshell, write about how things are (descriptive), not how you think they should be or wish they were (prescriptive).

Descriptive language seeks to describe what is happening, what happened, or what will happen. It enumerates facts without making value judgments.

Prescriptive language seeks to prescribe behavior or attitudes. It takes a point of view and attempts to convince or persuade the reader of that point of view.

  • It is not necessary to tell readers whether a trope is a good or bad thing in Real Life, nor that it is subjective, nor that there is controversy about it. You wouldn't put up with that in a story, so why should we have to put up with it on the wiki?
  • Other people may have different opinions about the quality of a work or a creator's work; they may even like something or someone for qualities that you find objectionable. Leave room for differences of opinion when you write about media.
  • The wiki does not, as a matter of policy, have an opinion on any social or political topics. We may disallow certain kinds of content on the grounds of not being suitable for our intended audience and/or not being permitted by our advertising sponsors, but that's not an excuse to bad-mouth these things on the wiki.
  • The wiki may ban discussion of certain "hot button" topics in media. This is to keep the users and staff from having to put up with the incessant arguments that develop whenever those topics arise, and to prevent the wiki from being used to advance an agenda.


See also: Righting Great Wrongs, Rule of Cautious Editing Judgment, Watsonian vs. Doylist

    Repair, Don't Respond 
An in-wiki admonition that speaks against explaining why an entry is wrong or incomplete instead of just fixing it.

A common offender is the Justifying Edit ("Well to be fair, the show was right to use that trope because..."), but there's plenty of variety, from parentheticals to "Not to mention that..." tangents through "However" or "Actually" clauses which make the page seem like it's arguing with itself all the way to paragraphs on end of aimless chatter.

The second/third bullet point is oft-misused to reply to an example; sentences that obviously got tacked onto a paragraph as a response are also commonplace and may be even more disruptive. The tone may be polite, passive-aggressive or sarcastic, but the result is the same: Concise examples turn into walls of text, the wiki loses its consistent voice and the interesting parts get drowned out in all the noise.

Why do these pop up? Perhaps the troper who wrote the entry was being overly polite and didn't want to hurt the feelings of whatever troper wrote the original article by deleting their example and writing in the corrected version instead. Or they wanted to show up the previous troper, keeping the incorrect version alongside the "correct" version. Or maybe they were under the mistaken impression that main article space doubles as a forum, a blog or a soapbox, and that we encourage that sort of thing.

If it's to correct a misconception or to add more information, it can be integrated into the existing entry. If a response can be reasonably removed, it should.

This is also why Zero Context Examples and rhetorical questions should be avoided at all costs. The latter, sooner or later someone will reply to; the former, someone will add the information you should have included in the first place, but likely as not they'll do so in a bullet point immediately after yours reading "To clarify..."

Relatedly, if you are going to remove something, make sure that what's left behind still makes sense. Conversation in the Main Page and Sinkholes are bad, but a bullet point directly referencing something that's no longer there isn't much better.

No one is going to complain about the vast majority of the changes you want to make to a page. Don't feel any compunctions about adding or deleting entries if you think that your impressions are accurate or defendable. That said, don't let your bias get the better of you and completely wipe out whatever you disagree with. If there's more than one way to look at things, they should all get their say.

The redirect to this page, "You Could Always Edit it Yourself", is generally used in somewhat different circumstances, when someone complains that an example is wrong, or that a page is infested with Natter, or that examples aren't sorted, or any similar problem exists but they show no indication that they're willing to fix it or clean it up themselves. The message is the same, though — if something is wrong, fix it.

    Three Day Rule 
The general rule of thumb for tropers in Trope Launch Pad, Trope Repair Shop, and Image Picking is to wait at least three days to gather opinions before adding a crowner, calling a crowner, or taking another kind of page action.

The rule is designed to give dissenting opinions a chance to be heard.

    Three Rules of Three 
So, you've got a really great idea for a trope. The description—let's call it a "thesis"—is brief, punchy, and wonderfully common. Something you're sure we don't have, either because you Did The Research or because you asked around. So, you did the smart thing: you posted your trope idea on the Trope Launch Pad, our official page for composing idea drafts. You know, brainstorming. It isn't essential, but it sure is encouraged.

How do you know if what you have, though, really is something that you should spend time adding to the site? For those guidelines, after some debate in the community, we established the Three Rules Of Three. Let's make one thing clear right now: There Is No Such Thing as Notability. We'll call them "rules", but you can think of them more as "rules of thumb" or "guidelines" — you can break them, if you want, but remember that the community may alter your creation later. Them, as they say, is the breaks.

Three Shall Be the Number of Rules, and the Number of Rules Shall Be Three:

Three Examples

  • The burden of proof is upon the person proposing the trope.note  To prove that your concept is a trope, it's a good idea to have at least three solid examples that clearly illustrate your trope's thesis. It's better if you can find examples that are not subversions or inversions; this shows that you're actually proposing a trope, and not just a happenstance occurrence. In some cases, such as a Dead Horse Trope, it may not be possible to find three examples where it is played straight. There's good news though: you don't have to come up with these yourself. Use You Know That Thing Where. Other tropers will help you.

Three Agree

  • What good's a trope without a name? An ideal trope name, it's generally agreed, should be punchy but not too opaque, understandable but witty. (And a good name can be both at the same time: see Politeness Judo, for example.) Now, different people will have different opinions on what's too clever for its own good. How do you know when you have a winning title? The guideline is this: when three tropers can agree on a single name, it's pretty solid. Sometimes, three tropers may agree on more than one name; it's usually better to go with the majority in this case.

Three Days

  • Nobody built Rome in a day, right? Most trope theses are born rough: They need sanding on the edges, polish for the surface, and a good dose of that lighthearted tongue-in-cheek humor we so love 'round these parts. As such, a trope must be left on Trope Launch Pad for three days before you try to launch it. This lets the community add their own insight, request clarification, and maybe point out that, yes, we already DO Have That One. Today this rule is enforced by the software; the "launch" button won't appear until three days have passed.

Each of the rules comes with caveats, of course. Easily 90% of edits are example-adds, so you may not need three examples. Not every name is completely transparent or witty: we love our in-jokes, and some titles are dull as dishwater. The most frequently broken rule, though, is (or was) the third one. Three days can be an eternity in cyberspace — if tropers are jumping on their metaphorical desks and yelling "How Did We Miss This One?" or "Just Launch It Already!," you'll just have to wait three days to hit that Launch button.

The bare minimum, though, remains three examples and a name: a snazzy name and three examples is a good place to start. Wiki Magic can always take over from there.

This helps prevent a flood of duplicate Trope Launch Pads being launched prematurely; there can be only so many iterations of a given trope. Sometimes, the description and examples for a given subtrope will find a better home on an existing page. It also gives others a chance to weigh in; it may not be until the 15th response to a popular new trope proposal that someone recalls the existing trope.

These rules also apply to proposals brought up in Trope Repair Shop and crowner votes insofar as they're applicable.

In case you were asking, Why Three?

    What to Put at the Top of a Page 
The Golden Rule for picking page images and quotes:

Pick something that demonstrates the trope in the image or quote. This is why we don't allow Just a Face and a Caption.

  • Picking an image that shows something that demonstrates the trope only in context doesn't help. Be especially wary of Fan Myopia. The relevance should be obvious to anyone who has never read or watched said work.
  • Read How to Pick a Good Image. Now. We'll wait.
  • Keep it Safe For Work.
  • Just as multiple page images look ridiculous, multiple page quotes only weaken the intro. You can add a quote page by changing "Main" to "Quotes" in the URL.
  • Page quotes should not have any trope potholes in them, although it is okay to link to a work or genre which is referenced directly. Quotes do not have potholes in their original medium, and extraneous Blue Links above the trope description just distract the reader. If potholes are not necessary to understand the quote, then they are redundant. If potholes give context that is needed to understand the quote, then the quote does not truly illustrate the trope.
  • If you have a new page image or quote that's objectively better than the current one by these guidelines, move the old one to Image Links Wiki or Quotes Wiki instead of just removing it. This will allow fans of the old one to still have easy access to it, and will go a long way toward preventing an Edit War.
  • There is this thread dedicated to page quotes. Don't be afraid of asking for help there.

    Circular Redirects 
Redirects Are Free... except this kind.

A circular redirect is created by making a page redirect to itself, or to a page that redirects to itself, or... you get the gist. Please don't do this. In theory, this would cause an infinite loop and possibly Explosive Overclocking or a Reality-Breaking Paradox. In practice, modern browsers are generally smart enough to catch such nonsense and put the brakes on, but it will still lead the poor user to a browser error page. Also, it's somewhat cumbersome to fix, due to not having access to the page's "Edit" button.

Please see Creating New Redirects for other guidelines.

[[#Everything's Worse with Snowclones]]

    Everything's worse With Snowclones 
A "Snowclone" is a form of trope title that relies on imitating an older title's form with only a small modification. Usually this modification amounts to replacing a word or making a pun.

For example, this very page is a snowclone of the Everything's Better With Indexes series of tropes. This, of course, is an instance of Hypocritical Humor.

If your trope title completely relies on the idea that "surely, everyone read that other page- I just have to make a pun with it", you should scrap it in favor of something clearer. Always assume that yours will be the first page on the Wiki that someone reads. Given that obscure cultural references are frowned upon, obscure in-jokes originating from the wiki are probably not that much of a good idea either. Here are some examples of it not working:

  • ShippingGoing Down with the Ship

    In this case, the latter example was eventually completely renamed to Dying Declaration of Love. It was an easy pun on the whole Shipping terminology, but it is very easy to confuse for the thing where an actual captain goes down with an actual ship. (And in fact, that is exactly what you'll find at Going Down with the Ship, now.)

  • Everythings Worse With BearsEverything's Worse With Snowclones

    The "Everything's X with Y" tropes are about shoehorning things into a work to get a certain emotional response, so "Everything's Worse With Snowclones" seems to be about using snowclones to evoke fear or apprehension. It isn't. Thankfully, this is just one administrivia page, so make sure not to repeat our mistake.

Commonly Problematic Snowclones

As you may have noticed, we have some titles that people very frequently try to make snowclones of, almost enough for the practice to become a Discredited Trope in and of itself. Be careful with these!

  • What Do You Mean, It's Not An X?: This family of tropes is about when something is played up as X, but is not really X. The "not really X" part, unfortunately, expanded in scope to include various sub-concepts and now it's impossible to tell which one of them the snowclone is referencing (are the writers aware of the discrepancy? If they are, are they playing the contrast for laughs or actually trying to get the audience to go "whoa, awesome"?).
  • Chekhov's X: This family includes tropes about elements that are introduced early to become important later. If what you're suggesting is this sort of trope, clearly explain what differentiates it from a generic Chekhov's Gun and make sure that it actually needs its own trope. If the difference comes down to "Chekhov's Hat- a Chekhov's Gun that happens to be a hat", for instance, then it probably doesn't.

  • Everything's Better With X: This family is about things that are gratuitously inserted into works because their mere existence makes it more awesome; it's not just for works with X in them, that's Not a Trope.

  • What Measure Is an X: This family of tropes is about characters of type X giving off a "this is a nobody and you should not care about them" vibe to some degree, as portrayed in the work or as perceived by the fans. Usually this has to do with them not living up to some standard that plays to a form of Wish Fulfillment. It's suffered a lot of Trope Decay, so don't just slap something random or grammatically inappropriate instead of the X there just because it sounds vaguely related to your idea of the trope.

  • Screw X I have Y: This is pretty much Exactly What It Says on the Tin, and as such it works very well (e.g. Screw the Rules, I Have Money!). The problem starts when the X and the Y mutate into metaphors and it's not entirely clear anymore what is being screwed, for what reason, in what sense does the person doing the screwing "have" the Y and what part the Y plays in the screwing of the X. Usually at that point it becomes clear that the trope is being shoehorned into a snowclone and you should start looking for a better title.

  • Schrödinger's X: Based on the famous thought experiment, these are about cases where one choice can retroactively change whether something was true or false all along, so until then, it is both true and false at the same time. These can only happen in interactive fiction (or in passive media, if it is based on the writer's choices caused by audience reaction). DO NOT use it for "until something happens, it might turn out either ways". That's just plain, old, obviously logical uncertainity.

  • X Effect: When it's not about status, sound or special effects, it is often hard to search for the trope when X is a work or a character. It can also be that there are many traits that the X has which do not fit the trope. Several formerly X Effect tropes have already been renamed.

Snowclones that work

Despite all common sense, there are some naming patterns that just work. We're not sure why. We're not sure how, but experience in the TRS and in the wild on the wiki just proves that against all common sense, they're better than the alternative.

  • Our X Are Different: This family of tropes focuses on how certain fantasy creatures are portrayed differently by each work that uses them; it is not a place to simply list works that include creature X. For that reason, not using the snowclone seems to cause trope decay and Zero Context Examples when we've studied the tropes. Despite being a snowclone, the tropes work better with the naming pattern than without it. This is not true for variations on the pattern that don't use the word "different".
  • Good X, Evil X: This trope is about showing good and evil variations of tropes. The snowclones tend to be clear about the trope (due to the aptness), and misuse tends to be prevented.

    Examples Are Not Arguable 
"The best way to end a totally bullshit sentence that makes it seem like it could be true... arguably."
Urban Dictionary's definition for "arguably"

Sometimes a troper just isn't sure of whether or not a work uses a certain trope. They're positive that the work contains something worth mentioning, but just aren't sure whether or not it counts as an example of the trope. Or maybe they have an example from their favorite show that doesn't quite fit the trope, but is close to it and they want to add it as an example anyway. The result is usually something like this:

  • Arguably, "Work A" uses "Trope B" when...
  • "Character C" is a possible example of this because...
  • To some, "Work D" is an example of "Trope E"...
  • Your Mileage May Vary, but "Character F" could be considered an example...

When writing an example, don't precede it with words like "arguably", "possibly", or "to some". This is an example of Weasel Words, and although we are more tolerant of such than That Other Wiki, in this case it weakens the foundation of the example by making it subjective. It is true that there may be disagreement between two or more tropers over whether or not a work uses a certain trope. That's fine. Misunderstandings happen. However, disputes about trope examples should be restricted to edit reasons and the discussion page so it won't clutter up the main article.

Two strong signs that this is occurring are (a) when someone sinkholes some text to the "Your Mileage May Vary" page, as a passive indicator that the trope depends heavily on opinion, and (b) when an objective trope is in the YMMV page. For the former, the main YMMV page is an index, not a trope, and should therefore not be potholed to. For the latter, remember that only YMMV items go on the YMMV page. If you truly think your example relies heavily on opinion, try looking for a subjective equivalent of your trope. If you can't do that, it's best to leave it off the pages and ask other tropers.

Also, please don't add unnecessary subjectivity to objective tropes about characters by inserting examples that might apply to some viewers of a show or players of a game but don't appear within the work itself. Even if they're not marked In-Universe Examples Only, it's generally a bad idea.

If you truly believe that your example fits the trope, then list it. If it's Not an Example, then don't. If you aren't sure, ask about it in the discussion page or this forum thread. If you have an example but aren't sure what trope it's an example of, list it here. If the item in question has a "YMMV" banner on its article, it belongs on the YMMV page. If "some people" have argued that a work is an example, chances are those people have no idea of how this wiki's definition of the trope differs from theirs.

For other words and phrases that should be avoided when writing examples, see Word Cruft.

    Examples Are Not Recent 
TV Tropes is immortal. TV Tropes does not know time. Terms such as "recently" are meaningless to TV Tropes. In other words, TV Tropes is not static.

A common mistake made by many well-intentioned tropers is to often use the words "recent", "newest", "latest", "as of now" or something synonymous to describe something within their examples or article (trope or work pages) descriptions. This is usually after some change that shakes the foundation of the work or character. In their zeal, the troper will excitedly state that this is a very recent development, cluing other tropers that the new status is going on right this very minute.

As for instance:

  • "In the latest issue of Superman..."
  • "The Five-Man Band has recently gotten a new member..."
  • "The latest law in California has made it illegal for yuri fans to..."
  • "The Doctor just finished a mission to protect..."
  • "Rumors about the new The Legend of Zelda game are circulating that..."
  • "This movie/series/book came out X years ago..."
  • "Right now, this movie is in production..."
  • "Although Anyone Can Die in this series, for now, The Protagonist is alive."
  • "X is becoming increasingly common in this series..."

This, while understandable, is unfortunately not a good practice.

As a form of fan myopia, this practice assumes that everyone who reads this will automatically know of this information. There are still some examples which describe films, episodes, issues, or volumes from two or more years ago as "recent", but if you're not a fan of said work, how will you know whether it's true or not? For all the uninitiated person would know, Captain America "recently" died or Burn Notice is still the "hottest new show on USA Network".note 

It also assumes everyone gets the work at the same time. People living in a different country than the one a work is released in sometimes have to wait a number of days, months, or years for that work to become legally available where they live. Some tropers will even wait until a series has either established itself, been cancelled, or finished up its story to dig into it on an archive binge. Thus, what you may consider to be recent, may already be well known to someone else. Another problem is that "recent" is relative; if a work is centuries old, an alteration made as long ago as 1950 could technically be counted as "recent", but if the work has only been around since the 1940s, an alteration from 1950 will seem much less "recent" by comparison. It only creates more trouble for other tropers when they have to remove mentions of the word "recent" after it isn't recent anymore. Or worse, the next troper will add an indented bullet point adding an even more recent update for the situation. Or even worse, the troper will simply call the work "the latest installment" with no mention of its actual name, making it almost impossible to rewrite the example without having knowledge about the work.

If you're talking about a series that is currently in publication, don't say "the most recent episode/issue..." or "last week...". Instead, use the name or number of the segment, because that is less likely to change. If you don't know the name or number, there's bound to be a wiki that can help. If you still can't find anything, try and pretend that every work, ever, is published right now, at the exact same time, in the present. Don't actually put this in your edits, of course, but use it to help you refrain from slipping in a "recent" without noticing. When talking about yet-to-be-released works or installments of series, refer to the source of the information (such as a trailer or interview or promotion) rather than talk about what hasn't happened yet. That way, even if something is changed, the entries are still accurate. Also, this page's rule doesn't include terms like "the previous episode" or "later in the series" because referring to the order of publication won't ever make your edit dated. Also be wary of saying what will happen next in the series when you see promos, like "Next week X character will return", or "X character dies" - even seasoned Tropers are hoodwinked by Never Trust a Trailer.

So for everyone's sake, please avoid using the word "recent" or anything synonymous in writing your examples. Although TV Tropes is open for anyone to edit, it should not be required for anyone to come behind another troper and fix their entry, which is inevitable with any edit that dates itself.

A related phenomenon can occur when linking to websites with constantly changing content, such as webcomics, news sites or blogs. Make sure the URL actually points to the specific item you're referring to, not to the site's main page.note 

Related to Conversation in the Main Page, because speaking as if the reader is every bit as up to date and excited about the work as you are is a kind of conversation.

No examples, please. Especially no "recent" ones.

    The Fic May be Yours, But The Trope Page is Ours 
We need to make this policy clear: The fact that you wrote the fic gives you no say in whether or not we have a write-up on it. You quite expressly do not have the right to have our page taken down because you wish to disown your work or because you don't like the tropes we have found in it. The page here is ours. The fic is yours. When you published the fic, either online or otherwise, you were releasing it into the world to be read and remarked on. The fact that you have changed your mind about publishing now does not give you the right to throw away our work.

Please do not even request that we cut a page on your work.

Incidentally, this applies to any work, not just fanfics. Just to make that clear.

    Flame Bait 
Flame bait is a post that is intended to start people bickering. Okay, maybe it doesn't have to be the intention, but it is certainly the result. Bickering begins.

You probably already knew that. It isn't a new term. We bring it up for selfish reasons. Wikis are not immune to flame wars. We'd like to head them off by limiting Flame Bait.

Here is a list of things we call Flame Bait, the forbidden tropes, the ones that open the door to horrible things. Please don't list them anywhere, not even in YMMV tabs. Seriously. We're begging you. Don't do it, or you will be caught in the middle of a debate. These are things proven to start the bickering up.

    Linking To An Article Within The Article 
Occasionally, a troper may be tempted when editing an article to change mentions of the name so that they form the Wiki Word for the article, be it a trope or a work or something else. This is called Linking to an Article Within the Article, and it's generally held to be bad formatting. If you see this, please immediately undo the wiki word.

There are a number of reasons for this:

  • It invokes the Department of Redundancy Department, and not in a humorous way.
  • It can be confusing, as a reader may assume that it references another page rather than the same page.
  • It wastes time as the page reloads.
  • If it is a media page and there are other works with the same name it may be confused with a link to one of them.
  • It may lead to unnecessary confusion and work if the name is changed or the page moved.
    • This is especially the case on the Trope Launch Pad where the name of a proposed new trope can change without warning.
  • Worst case scenario, it may lead to a Reality-Breaking Paradox and The End of the World as We Know It. And That's Terrible.

This also applies to examples. What work has the example, or the name of the trope the example has, should only be wiki worded the first time even if said again, like so:


  • Big Bad: Emperor Evulz is the Big Bad of season 3 when he tries to Take Over the World, and returns as the Big Bad in season 5 when he tries to destroy the world.


The reason for this is that a huge number of circular links often get created when the wrongly formatted example is duplicated to the trope page. On any given trope page plagued with circular links, the majority can often be found in the examples instead of the description. Vice versa for duplication to work pages.

Circular links are especially bad when the link is a Pot Hole, since people have to hover over the link to figure out that they have no reason to click it. Even from a rhetorical standpoint, it's not clever, since it's essentially an observation that that thing we're talking about is — astoundingly — an example of the reason we brought it up in the first place.

Worst of all is where there's a link to a redirect of the article (these are really hard to spot), guaranteeing that pretty much everyone will click it before realizing that they just got nowhere. This happens a lot when listing Internal Subtropes.

    No Lewdness No Prudishness 
Per the wiki's content policy, there is a content range we strive for on this site, as explained here. We can't be too crude and perverted, but neither do we want to sanitize pages on works that involve sexual content. This is a site for discussing tropes and how they relate to fiction, not for being lewd or prudish.

Specifically, if a work has sexual content, we shouldn't be graphic in writing about it, nor should we pretend the sexual content isn't there.

No Lewdness:

Sometimes examples have a tendency to stray from the path of "funny, but informative" into the land of "downright lewd". Lewd writing is flat out pornographic. If you see it, clean up. Examples can be written without creepiness. If there is something sexual, it's best to just state the facts and move on.

"Lewdness" is more than just being about something sexual or potentially sexual. Here are some signs of lewd writing:

  1. Personal opinions on hotness. Examples should stand on their own without the introduction of YMMV material. Adding your own thoughts and feelings on an example is an opinion, same as calling an example good or bad. Don't do it. Don't try and extend your feelings to a larger group of fans either, e.g. "...and fangirls everywhere rejoiced". You're not fooling anyone.
  2. Overly detailed examples. The example doesn't need to be an exact sensory account of the event. Too much of that and you end up sounding like you're writing porn. When in doubt, drop a few adjectives.
  3. Unrelated fanservice mentions. If the hot bits aren't related to the example, they don't belong in the example.
  4. Pornographic writing. If you're writing porn, it should be somewhere other than the wiki. Keep it Family Friendly.
  5. Titillation links. Tell, don't show. We don't need screen shots to illustrate NSFW fanservice. If a reader is really curious, they can go look it up on Google. (See also Weblinks Are Not Examples.)
  6. Pedo gushing. We don't need to describe children sexually. This should be cut immediately. We're not interested in hosting pedophilia fantasies. Period. If a work contains children having sex and/or sexualizes children in a titillating way, even if portrayed negatively (e.g. Kodomo no Jikan), flag it as explained here.
  7. Talking about actors instead of characters. An actor is not the character they play. When you're writing an example about a work, refer to the character, not the actor. This applies to non-sexual references, but too often it's tropers writing about how they find certain actors hot. That doesn't fit in character examples.
  8. Thinking a page with a Not Safe for Work subject is license to be lewd. Even when we discuss porn, we are about just stating the facts.
  9. Fanfic Recs for underage sex. We will not host any recommendation for fics that have explicit sex involving people apparently or actually younger than 16. Period. We categorically do not recommend fics with sex in which at least one participant:
This applies even if all parties are underage.

If a page seems to be infested with lewdness, and you don't feel up to tackling it yourself — or if you're not sure whether it's lewd enough to fall afoul of this guideline — please report it here.

No Prudishness:

On the flipside of this, it's possible to be too prudish as well. The wiki is always going to discuss sex and sexuality because it's one of the driving forces behind most media productions; if you think sex is evil, you are unlikely to be happy with the approach TV Tropes takes.

Merely being about something sexual or potentially sexual does not mean that a work or trope page is fair game for chopping on the grounds that it's creepy or perverse. There are things to avoid.

  1. Don't cutlist or gut pages just because they're about sexual topics. Sex exists. It's used in media a lot. You'll just need to cope with that fact. Relationships, fanservice, and sexual activity all fall into their own tropes as a result.
  2. Don't be a Bluenose Bowdlerizer. We're not looking to censor all sex off the wiki. If the sex and sexuality is an honest part of the work and relevant to the example, it belongs there.
  3. The wiki is not rated G. We aren't sanitizing the wiki for small children. Sex and sexuality are part of media and we aren't going to ignore them. This wiki is Family Friendly, not Unsupervised Small Child Friendly. This isn't an excuse to make work pages dirtier than the work itself, as the above No Lewdness section makes clear, but neither is it an excuse to make those pages cleaner than the work itself.

    No New Stock Phrases 
"No, it is a word. What matters is the connection that word implies."
Ramachandra in The Matrix Revolutions, justifying an AI's use of the word "love"

A TV Tropes ruling established mid-2011 that no new articles in the Trope Launch Pad should be named after a Stock Phrase or line of personal (in-character) dialogue. Bone up on history here.

Number one important thing to remember: You are naming a trope, not giving an article a title.

But before standing up and shouting "Objection!", take a moment to remember what our definition of a trope is: It's a convention of fiction, a motif or element that recurs enough (across a given work, or whole genre, or even all fiction itself) for the audience to identify it when they see it (or, in some cases, after seeing it).

Most Stock Phrases originate from a line of character dialogue, but aside from being repeated so often that people start recognizing it as generic, the words themselves don't really convey whatever actual motif or convention is in play. We're not tagging news articles or blog posts with witty personal thoughts for a header; we're coining names for the concepts themselves.

Problems related to using a phrase as a trope name include:

  1. The big one: They do not work. That is, they don't get adopted as the name of a trope. They get no inbound links.
  2. We don't want our editors thinking that the trope is about characters merely saying the phrase. Having a "list of times characters said X" is about as meaningful as, say, a "list of times characters sat on chairs". The trope is established by the surrounding context, the actual phrase or dialogue which occurred is merely incidental and thus Not a Trope. The reason the author wrote the line, the thing he or she wanted to accomplish to advance the story being told, that's the trope.
  3. Many older Stock Phrase articles were at some point written as "A common phrase said when...", placing emphasis on the exact words used instead of the actual trope that prompted them. This is bad trope formatting, and one of the reasons it even became a problem at all.
  4. We don't want every example section getting formatted like a list of quotations. All those quotations give the impression that it's about the exact words used at the expense of the real trope surrounding them. There's generally no need to quote the source material verbatim, and the example sections just look better when they aren't broken up every five lines with a distracting block of quotation markup. It can be worthwhile to quote the dialogue that occurred in one or two examples here and there, but only in addition to a properly formatted citation, not in lieu of one.
  5. Sometimes a Stock Phrase ... just isn't a stock phrase. If it could occur for a variety of unrelated reasons, then we can't pick just one to use for the trope — the phrase is too broad, and will get misused when editors only see the name. Doubly so if combined with the list-of-quotations issue described above. This is the same reason we don't like naming tropes after characters anymore, because characters of fiction are remembered for too many different reasons to pick just "that one".
  6. Some Stock Phrase-named tropes become Pothole Magnets (or worse, Troper Tics) where editors link the name every time they use the phrase, regardless of whether they're actually providing an example of the trope, or not. (And in most cases, it's not.)

See Naming a Trope for more general guidelines on how to name a trope.

How do you avoid having your trope name sound like a line of dialog (i.e. someone speaking)? Here are some things to avoid:

    Righting Great Wrongs 
TV Tropes is not the place to do it.

All right, so there's this character everyone else in the fandom is ga-ga over, and you hate their guts. It bewilders you how people could be so excited about Alice and Bob finally getting together after 8 seasons of Unresolved Sexual Tension, given that Carol is obviously a much better match for him. You can't imagine how someone could possibly think that Adventures of the Hoola Hoopers can hold a candle to Hoola Hoop Strike Force X. And you're here to tell us that.

That's fine. This is how a wiki works: You share something you think or know about a subject, everyone else reads it, improves it, tampers with it. So far, so good.

But there's this... thing... that tends to happen in that kind of situation, where the endless possibility of editing a high-traffic site gets a contributor all giddy, and they become Drunk on the Dark Side. They slowly acquire the impression that editing a wiki is equivalent to Rewriting Reality; instead of writing about how things are, they start writing about how things should be.

This isn't Wikipedia, so we're not going to split hairs about neutral points of view and citations and whatnot, but we still try to tell it like it is. Our readers should be getting the right idea, or failing that, at least some part of the right idea. Wild theories do not become "possibilities" on TV Tropes. Crack Pairings do not become Fan Preferred Couples. Kinda-bad episodes do not become shark-jumpings. If Our Mileage May Vary regarding something, we're interested in reading about how and why the mileage varies — not in being told which way we should be varying it.

As long as there is only one point of view on the table to begin with, and that point of view is so prevalent that no one has even bothered to try arguing with it, fine — we're not looking to dig out false "balance" from under the ground. Hopefully it's still there because it's reasonable and not because of neglect. But the moment two opposing points of view are trying to be persuasive on the same page, bad things happen. Reconciling them becomes impossible. Either one of them beats the other into submission and the article becomes a propaganda pamphlet, or they keep taking jabs at each other and the article is consumed by Edit Wars and Thread Mode.

Our goal is to have an article that's entertaining, informative and consistent. If everyone's hell-bent on dyeing the text their color, that goal is a lost cause. Do your best not to be a part of that equation. If you find yourself caught in an edit war over varying mileage, by all means wash your hands of it and try to write down something that everyone will agree with. Opposing points of view can and do get along on an article - as long as neither of them is trying to tell the reader what to think.

See also: the Rule of Cautious Editing Judgment and Repair, Don't Respond.

    The Same But More 
A popular type of The Same, but More Specific.

Essentially, this is when a trope can be summed up as "the same as Article X, but pumped Up to Eleven". While the temptation to start these sort of articles is evidently irresistible — hardly a day goes by that one doesn't show up in Trope Launch Pad — they are almost always a bad idea for a number of reasons, not the least of which is where to draw the dividing line between "Trope X" and "Trope Xtreme".

A common variant is when someone wants to write pages like "Trope X, but done well" or "Trope X, but done poorly". Remember that Tropes are Neither Good Nor Bad — tropes are value-neutral, and whether they come across as positive or negative depends on how an individual work uses them. Besides, attempting to split tropes by their execution can be extremely subjective, since fans of a given work will argue that it belongs in the "good" pile while detractors constantly move it back into the "bad" pile. This continues, probably interminably.

Remember, Tropes Are Flexible. There's enough untapped content to go around already — there's really no point in rehashing what we've already got. Sometimes you might think there is a quantitative difference in a new trope, but if the examples are mostly the same as the earlier trope, then you're basically just duplicating the one that already exists.

Now if the difference actually is clear, the result may be a Sub-Trope, Super-Trope, or Sister Trope of another.

If you think your extreme trope has the distinction worthy of a Sub-Trope, please check with the other Tropers first and to get opinions; if other people agree that the Sub-Trope label applies, it probably does; likewise, if they're all calling it The Same, but More, they're probably right.

See also Exaggerated Trope, which covers tropes being played Up to Eleven in-universe, and Downplayed Trope, which covers the opposite.


A Pot Hole uses 'hidden' links, phrases linked to pages whose actual titles may not appear in the text. Tropes Are Not Bad. This is okay when done correctly, allowing links to relevant articles without disrupting the narrative flow.

Sinkholes occur when potholing goes wrong, featuring links that are irrelevant, inappropriate, or both. In a wiki, it's better to pot hole words which represent the article they are linked to. Here are some bad sinkhole practices:

Misleading links: Consider Mark Hamill, who both portrayed Luke Skywalker in Star Wars and voiced The Joker in the DCAU.

In an example about Star Wars, potholing Mark Hamill's name to The Joker like this...

... creates a sinkhole — the fact that he voiced The Joker is completely irrelevant to his role in Star Wars. More importantly, he has a page, so potholing his name to another page is odd. The reader has to maneuver around the sinkhole to avoid being knocked off track. It adds nothing to the wiki except the likelihood of confusion, as Hamill's page already provides readers with a list of his other roles, and clearly specifies that he voiced The Joker in Batman: The Animated Series (and other works), while the sinkhole only implies he has some kind of relation to The Joker. Such sinkhole links should be changed to point to what the text is actually about or un-linked altogether.

Chained sinkholes: These are when pot holes are chained with sinkhole characteristics. There's only one sentence, but many pages linked to. Instead of proper structuring, careless editors divide the sentence to equal parts and link each part to the articles. That way we'll get a mess that turns nearly the entire sentence blue like this:

The reader has no clue there are multiple links there. If they do discover all the links, it is a pain following all the links. Don't do this, please.

Covert opinions: Too many times sinkholes are used to bury a YMMV in an example or description. These are bad. If you see one of these, remove the unnecessary links and/or restructure the necessary ones.

All-Blue Entry attempts: This is an attempt to create an All-Blue Entry under the pretense that it's witty or novel. This is not the case. Gratuitous sinkholes should be removed from such examples.

Linking a common phrase to a trope of the same name: For example, linking a statement that someone "got better" in some way, shape or form to the trope I Got Better. That is part of why the trope was renamed to Unexplained Recovery and why No New Stock Phrases are allowed.

Changing the display text of a trope in a list: This is used to make a trope specific to a situation, e.g. changing Sealed Evil in a Can to Frozen Evil in a Lake. However, doing this messes up alphabetization (does that example go under S or F?), makes it harder to find tropes, causes confusion over what the trope's actual name is, and encourages Zero Context Examples and Square Peg, Round Trope. Just list the trope under its normal title and then expand on it properly.

Trope potholes in page quotes: Quotes do not have potholes in their original medium, and extraneous bluelinks above the trope description just distract the reader. If potholes are not necessary to understand the quote, then they are redundant. If potholes give context that is needed to understand the quote, then the quote does not truly illustrate the trope. Page quotes thus should not have any trope potholes in them, although it is okay to pothole to a work or genre which is referenced directly.

Joke Fulfillment Links: Please consider that for tropers or readers who have been frequenting the wiki for even a few days, there is nothing remotely original or new about potholing understatements to Understatement, stealth puns to Stealth Pun, running gags to Running Gag, overused running gags to Overused Running Gag, and so on. It has been done to death. It has become repetitive and predictable, and repetitiveness and predictability kill humour. In other words, don't require a link jump to make the joke work. It doesn't. Ever.

Check out Weblinks Are Not Examples for more on how to avoid using links irresponsibly.

    Type Labls Are Not Examples 
When dealing with Super Tropes and other broad story conventions that can manifest in a range of variations, the article will necessarily include a quick list (or index) describing these variations at a glance. A common, but unfortunate, side effect is that editors may start referencing the list solely by its letter or number designations, which naturally leads to citations like this:

Show contains examples of these tropes

And what, to the uninitiated viewer, is a "type 3" supposed to indicate?

This is a bad citation, and should be avoided for a few reasons:

  • It doesn't actually explain the example. I.e. the 'who' or the 'what', the 'where' or 'when', the 'why' or 'how' of the example. A mere letter or number doesn't explain any of that; all it does is reference some item in a list, relying on said list to fill in the missing gaps for it.
  • The actual number/letter designation is irrelevant (or may be subject to change). In most cases the list is our creation and we're free to expand or reorganize it later if needednote , and this may impact what letter describes which definition, in turn making references to the 'old' version of the type list look misleading (or invalid) when interpreted according to the 'new' version of the list.
  • Individual types need not be mutually exclusive. Tropes Are Flexible, and a given example may combine more than one variation at a time. A citation that reads, for example, "[Character] is a Type 2 + Type 3 [Personality Trope], with a hint of Type 7" is completely opaque to the reader, not just because it fails to explain what each number is supposed to mean, but also because it imposes an exercise on the reader.
  • One should never have to visit page B to understand a trope example on page A. Since you're already painting a picture of how Bob fits a trope, it should (more or less) be a complete picture of Bob and his trope. Referring to vague labels that require reading a different page to understand something immediately relevant to the page you're already on, and readers who choose NOT to figure out the meaning of type labels will totally miss out on understanding it.

It's worthwhile to note that there are a few ways to prevent this problem from developing in the first place. The following tip is free, courtesy of (the original) Murphy's Law:

Avoid assigning positional number/letter labels to a soft split or sliding scale.

E.g., rather than relying on positional labels (A, B, C or 1, 2, 3) to identify types, come up with descriptive phrases of your own for the distinct Internal Subtropes. Descriptive labels provide fixed mnemonics which won't (usually) get mixed around if the list is changed or reorganized in the future, and unlike generic letters or numbers these labels actually say something at face value. In addition, they make the Trope Launch Pad's job easier should the subtropes eventually get split out.

For help fixing these, please consult this project thread.

As a related issue, never use a sliding scale or sorting algorithm article as a trope example. Instead, use one of the tropes that it references for positions on the scale. Remember that trope examples are never speculative or theoretical. Don't hypothesize about someone's position in the Sorting Algorithm of Mortality on the work article.

Sub-Trope of the Zero-Context Example (the general faux-pas of poorly explained citations), and a Sister Trope to Weblinks Are Not Examples (an eerily similar rule that applies to external URLs).

    Weblinks Are Not Examples 
When documenting a trope's presence in a work, it is always emphasized that an adequate explanation describing where the trope occurs and/or how it is used be written for it. However, with media content being so easy to find on the Internet, and with video sharing sites, Wikipedia, original Internet content and comics being what they are, sometimes it feels easier to just paste a URL link to wherever else on the Internet a trope example appears, like so...

[Trope Name]: As seen here.
Happens in [Work Title], seen here.

Unfortunately, despite the convenience this practice gives an editor, leaving examples like this causes a number of problems for everybody else.

  • It's a distraction. Instead of reading through examples on a trope or work page, readers are now somewhere else, on another website, watching videos and doing all manner of activities irrelevant to the article they were just reading (and which we'd much rather prefer they stay engaged with).
  • URL links are not guaranteed to work forever. While in the short term, a video or website may be working and people may be able to view the relevant content, if at any point a video is removed or a website shuts down or puts a block or restriction on the linked content, nobody is going to be able to view it or understand the example.
  • The mere appearance of a weblink explains nothing about the example on its own. Clicking on a link is a choice; people can either do it or ignore it. For anyone who ignores the link, the remaining text is as helpful as a Zero-Context Example.
  • Moreover, nobody should have to click on a weblink. People reading trope examples shouldn't have no other choice but to leave the page they are already on in order to understand something immediately relevant to what they were just reading.

On the whole, we want to encourage editors to write out their examples and explain how any given trope is used in all circumstances. Even if a trope example is overly complex or requires a lot of explanation that a weblink to some other place can seemingly convey more easily, or even if one wants to include a weblink, anyway, one should still try to make an effort to write a sufficient, clear explanation of a trope example, no differently than if one didn't have any URL links on hand.

It is always preferable to use outside links as additional tools to clarify, enhance, or provide reference to a detailed example's content, rather than using them in place of the detailed example itself. In short, weblinks are to supplement context, but never substitute for context.

This problem isn't exclusive to leaving URL links in example spaces, either. Directing page readers to other articles on This Very Wiki where a relevant trope example has already been written out is just as problematic and ill-advised.

Any trope example that relies entirely on getting readers to visit a separate webpage for an explanation should be (a) expanded from the linked content , (b) pulled from the article and brought to its respective discussion page, or, if this poses a problem throughout a significant portion of a page's examples list, (c) brought up in this Special Efforts thread.

See Also: Type Labels Are Not Examples, Zero-Context Example, for more on the importance of providing written explanations for tropes; Sink Hole, for more on how to avoid using links irresponsibly; How to Write an Example, for more on how to make sure examples are written correctly. An overabundance of links of any sort will generally increase odds of users going on a Wiki Walk.

    About Images And Copyright 
The wiki takes copyright seriously. People copyright things because they want to make their living from the creative process that made the thing. We are all about creativity.

In order to talk about creativity we sometimes want to show a part of the thing created. That is cool. It is called Fair Use. In order to make the use fair, we have to follow some rules. The big one that makes the rest of the little ones easy to remember is: You can only show an excerpt, not the whole thing.

Copyright symbols

  • If there is a copyright symbol © but no name on the part of work shown, it needs to be made clear that there is more of the work, or it looks like we're claiming the copyright, which would be bad.
  • If there is a copyright symbol © with or without a name, on the work shown, and there isn't any more to that work — a single-panel comic, for example — we can't use it at all. It is not an excerpt. It is the whole thing.
  • If there is a copyright symbol © with or without a name on the work, we can't simply remove it. That wouldn't be honest, or fair. We can show a part of the work that doesn't have the copyright symbol, though, and it is preferable to do so. Just clipping off and showing the part of an image that doesn't have the symbol is not an excerpt.


A watermark is any printing or image deliberately overlaid across the image in order to interfere with seeing it completely clearly. It's an anti-theft measure. We can't use it. Period. The artist might provide us with an un-watermarked version, but it's on us to ask for it, and if we don't get it then we need to look somewhere else. Making a copy of the image and then Photoshopping out the watermark is not kosher.

This is a watermarked image: note


TV channels use bugs mostly for marketing purposes rather than as an anti-theft measure. A single screencap from a show is Fair Use, and an image with a bug in the corner is acceptable, although one without it is preferable, because it's prettier. This image has a bug (circled):

That's It.

We will honor all take down requests based on copyright. That is really the entirety of the wiki's obligation. We are not obligated to seek out permissions for excerpt use or to investigate to discover what a creator's copyright policy might be.

Hopefully that clears up questions about how and when we can show parts of works. If you have further questions, post the question in this thread. If you see a page image that you think violates these guidelines, make a thread for it in the Image Pickin' forum. Just click the 'workshops' button at the top of the page, then select the IP thread you want.

    About Rhetorical Questions 
Using a rhetorical question to make a point in an environment where anyone can edit, like, say, a wiki, is a blunder. Rhetorical questions are a perfectly valid way to make a point, but that question mark at the end is just completely irresistible for some people. They have to edit in an answer.

The article then degenerates into Conversation in the Main Page and Word Cruft.

Maybe people should refrain from answering rhetorical questions. The fact is, though, that they don't refrain. The good thing here is that there is an easy fix: Don't get the whole thing started by using a rhetorical question unless you immediately answer it yourself.

    American and Commonwealth Spellings 
This wiki is used in both America and The Commonwealth of Nations. This would be titled "American and British English spelling differences", but the Australians complained, just like New Zealanders complained about All Black Article.

On TV Tropes, here's the guidelines (Please note that this applies to things like punctuation as well):

  1. Use whichever one you're comfortable with.
  2. First come, first served. Don't change the spelling in someone else's writing; this will just lead to edit warring.
  3. If there's strong national ties to the page in question, it's okay to standardi(s/z)e to one spelling. For instance, it's okay to change "colour" to "color" on Eagleland, and it's okay to change "program" to "programme" on British Brevity. The same goes for work pages, however, do not pothole trope names in the trope list — those should be left unaltered.
  4. Create redirects for titles with multiple accepted spellings. This makes the page searchable for both styles. Mixing styles in a title doesn't usually make much sense, though.

For comparison, here's the policy towards this on The Other Wiki.

    Creator's Page Guidelines 
TV Tropes is primarily about tropes and the works that use them. However, oftentimes information about an author, actor, director, producer, mangaka, composer, animator, developer, or other creator can be relevant to our understanding of the tropes in their works. To that end, we have Creator pages.

Creator pages go in the Creator/ namespace and get the "creator" page type. We have an index for creators; it can be found here.

These pages document information about creators pertaining to their works and the tropes they use. Any creator can have a page if someone is willing to make it.

Note, however, that not all pages about people will fall into this category. Some, such as The Presidents, are Useful Notes and/or Historical Domain Characters. Others are pages for musicians or professional wrestlers that, while they may look like creator pages, are actually work pages for documenting the tropes used in their performances (and should be in the Music/ and Wrestling/ namespaces, respectively, with the page type "work", not "creator").

What can go on creator pages:

What should not go on creator pages:

  • Tropes applied to the creator as if they are a fictional character. Please resist the urge to apply character tropes to Real Life people. We've had a lot of Square Peg, Round Trope issues in the past with this, so as a general guideline, it's best to apply No Real Life Examples, Please! to creators. If it seems harmless it might be overlooked Just for Fun, and there is an exception for Conversational Troping as mentioned above, but on the whole this is something best avoided.
  • Tropes that apply to individual works they've created. Any tropes listed should be relevant to their work as a whole, not to just one work. So if a trope only applies to one work they've made, please list it on that work's page instead.
  • Creator Bashing. Creator pages should not be used to complain about how much a person sucks. We're not here to hate on people. Multiple creator pages, including Uwe Boll and Microsoft, have been sent to the Permanent Red Link Club because editors just couldn't resist spewing bile. Please keep it neutral.
  • Subjectivity and YMMV. We don't list YMMV items for real-life people. That includes creators. Please don't list Audience Reactions or YMMV for a creator (unless it's for one of their works that doesn't already have a page).
  • Drooling. In the past, we've had pages for actresses that consisted primarily of gushing about how hot they are. This is not okay. It's inappropriate and will not be tolerated.

[[folder:The Great Character Allignment Debate]]The classic Dungeons & Dragons Lawful/Chaotic, Good/Evil Character Alignment matrix. The great debate. There are a large number of tropers who feel that every character in fiction (and many people in Real Life) should be assigned a place in this grand moral/ethical classification system, and that this place can be determined with a great degree of accuracy from their observed actions and their stated beliefs. However, we have a firm rule on This Very Wiki about not adding alignments to characters who do not have them in canon. Why is that?

Well, let's start with an example that most tropers ought to be familiar with: Batman. The Caped Crusader, champion of vigilante justice. What alignment is he, exactly?

It goes on. There's a reason someone created an alignment chart with Batman in each position — it's because characters are rarely so simplistic as to be easily assigned to a bucket on a 3x3 grid. Further, alignments only make sense for certain series where there is a neat sorting of good vs. evil (or order vs. anarchy). In works where morality is relative, or never discussed at all, even the definitions of the alignments are up for debate, never mind who qualifies.

It is for these reasons that, on TV Tropes, we ask that you resist the temptation to assign an alignment to every character you see. Sooner or later someone will disagree with you, and then you'll see the escalating cycle of Natter, Thread Mode, and Flame Wars. Even if nobody disagrees, seeing the Neutral Good label attached to a character is irresistible to some people, and before you know it, characters as diverse as Ariel and Lex Luthor will become the subject of what we uncharitably refer to as alignmentwank.

Okay, so what are the rules exactly? Character Alignment is only to be used in works where it is canonical, and only for characters who have alignments In-Universe. There is to be no arguing over canonical alignments, and no Real Life examples, ever. Any examples not meeting these criteria should be deleted.[/folder]]

[[folder:Handling Spoilers]]

"The secret of being a bore is to tell everything."

Spoilers are our stock-in-trade here at TV Tropes — you can't talk about stories and plots without revealing the details of the stories and plots, which might ruin the experience for people who haven't yet had the chance to view that work. To combat this, we have the spoiler tag markup [[spoiler:some text]].

However, this presents a problem. Virtually all examples are going to be spoilers to some extent, and we can't blank the entire wiki on the off chance that someone will be spoiled. One of the big draws of a site like this is simply browsing from one page to the next and absorbing the information therein, and that appeal is lessened if every interesting fact is lost to the fog of a spoiler tag.

So, over the last ten years we have developed a few very simple rules about using spoiler font:

  1. Do not ever conceal the name of the trope in a list of trope examples, the list on the work's page.
  2. Do not ever conceal the name of the work in a list of works using a trope, the list on the trope's page.
  3. No spoilers in the main body of the description, above the "Examples" line. Just don't do it.

If you stick to those rules you get the following effect for free:

Under no circumstances cause the entire text of the example to be in white font, concealing the trope name. Think about it. If you have to highlight and read it ... just to see if you want to highlight and read it, there is no point to the spoiler font.

There is a special version of this rule for Characters subpages: do not ever conceal the name of a character in a folder or header. Again, if someone has to highlight the name of the character to find out what they aren't supposed to look at, it's useless.

If this policy would cause a page to contain an unconscionable quantity of genuine spoilers, then remove all spoiler tagging and place a bold warning at the top that unmarked spoilers are present.

Okay, that's the policy part. Now we can talk about something that bugs tropers who have an interest in making things look good: Swiss-cheese entries, entries where single words and short phrases are cut out and other text is left visible. Face it, it looks like crap to people who have the spoiler font blanking effect turned on, which is the vast majority of the readers. It is the default.

Having specific rules about what to hide in the example is too complicated. It boils down to: Think about it. Think about the casual reader, who doesn't care about spoilers.

We know it seems important to fans of a given work, but the far and away majority of readers are not people with a fannish mindset at all. We who edit are mostly fannish, but the people who edit are less than 1% of the people who read the wiki. Let's continue to write for the casual reader. It is our best way to convert them to fans.

Finally, avoid Wicks and Potholes in spoiler tags, because mousing over them reveals what's beneath, making it pointless to conceal them. Plus, they stand out in some browsers.

There are some special-case rules for not using spoilers in the Spoilers Off page. But, please, if you don't see your specific case listed there just use your head and favor the needs of the casual reader.

    Self Fulfilling Spoiler 
This is the particularly aggravating practice of using spoiler tags that make it quite clear what they're concealing by their length and/or position, or the wording of the surrounding sentence. This, of course, defeats the entire point of using them at all. Often, even if they can't tell the specifics, it can lead the reader to have a fair idea just from the fact that there's something spoilery there.

Sometimes people don't seem to be aware of which words should be spoilered in order to make the sentence both understandable and non-spoilery to people who don't want to be spoiled. For instance, it goes without saying that examples on the Luke, I Am Your Father page all have a certain kind of spoiler, so rather than saying:

...where you are attempting to hide details already obvious by the fact that you are on a page named "Luke, I Am Your Father", you can make it:

  • In The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker finds out that Darth Vader is his father.

Which explains why the example is on that page, but doesn't give up the details (though admittedly, the details of this one are long since spoiled anyway, hence why it names the trope).

Doing it this way:

  • In The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker finds out that Darth Vader is his father.

is also not helpful, because it hides the most important part of the example — the name of the work. With that hidden, nobody can tell if the example is safe to read!

The best workaround in a case where a Self-Fulfilling Spoiler seems necessary is to rephrase it until it isn't. For instance, if a character's gender turns out not to be what the viewer/reader/player was led to believe it was, it doesn't do much good to put the correct pronoun in spoiler tags. But "the time her arm was injured provides a good example of this" can be changed to "the arm injury provides a good example of this". This can require some creativity; if possible, you don't want readers to notice that the pronouns are deliberately being avoided. Alternatively, just using they/them pronouns can avoid this - however, sharp readers may still catch on.

In the same vein, spoiler tags where "Character X seemingly died" give away that something about the "death" scene isn't as it appears, leading to the obvious inference that Character X might still be alive, or might come back to life.

Be particularly careful with short names: If you say "In Harry Potter, Ron does something that's a really big spoiler", it's pretty obvious there aren't many characters whose names will fit in a spoiler box of that size, which will make it relatively clear which character you're talking about — this goes double for any character with a One-Letter Name.

Another common problem is the presence of links beneath spoiler tags. This is bad, because if a reader accidentally mouses over the link, they will see where it leads to, which could just give away the spoiler anyway. Take this example: "Bob has a Heroic BSoD when he finds out that his brother Dan is The Mole." If someone mouses over that spoilered text, they will see a link to The Mole, giving away the twist and rendering the spoiler tag as worthless as a used piece of toilet paper. Furthermore, some older or mobile browsers may display the link even if hidden in spoiler tags. For this reason, links should not be placed beneath spoiler tags.

Some tropes, such as The Hero Dies, are inherently spoilers — their very presence on a work page is a spoiler in and of itself. If it seems that way, leave it out. It is not like it is absolutely necessary to document every conceivable trope in a work.

And then there's the question about what we do with The Mousetrap. The only real solution here is to not even mention the work in the article, since the work name itself is a giveaway to people who know of its Spoil at Your Own Risk nature. Go to The Other Wiki if you want to spoil The Mousetrap.

This page is a subset of our Spoiler Policy.

    Spoilers off

This is an incomplete list of series or bodies of work which are officially free to spoil. Enough time has gone by in enough markets that only one or two humans are left who haven't seen/read it. We feel for them, but not enough to make our wiki look like some sort of weird Swiss cheese.

See also It Was His Sled and Late-Arrival Spoiler. Note that The Mousetrap will never be on this list because of its unique nature.

Spoilers off for:

  • If the copyright has expired, or if it predates the very concept of copyright, it's probably free to spoil. In the vast majority of countries, this roughly coincides with anything Older Than Radio. The cat is out of the bag for all of William Shakespeare's plays.
  • Anything from myth (e.g., Oedipus), religion (e.g., The Bible), or even legends (e.g., Robin Hood). If it's Older Than Dirt (or at least Older Than Feudalism), it's definitely OK. That said, occasionally spoiling Biblical events (Jesus dies but comes back to life) can be very funny. Just don't go overusing it.
  • If you spoiler-tag a fact, something that happened in Real Life, you have our full and express permission to punch yourself in the face. Unless you do it to be funny, then the person who doesn't realize it's a joke and angrily deletes the tag has the face punching permission. Obviously, this applies to any works based on true stories (unless they're only inspired by the facts and take significant liberties with the historical record).
  • Quotes from a work. Either it doesn't need spoilers, or it doesn't need to be quoted; use ellipses (...) if need be.
  • If the article is an episode recap, no spoiler font. The nature of the thing is to give detailed information about the episode. A person who wants both all the details and to not see spoilers is not a person we can help. However, do not add spoilers for future episodes, even under tags. Those go on the later episode pages.
  • Fridge and Headscratchers subpages are for post-viewing discussions. Spoiler tagging there defeats the purpose of the articles. You shouldn't be going there if you are worried about them.

Incidentally, if big blocks of whited-out text turning everything into Swiss cheese look needlessly hideous to you, you can set it up so that spoilers are always visible by going to your profile or just by hitting the spoilers switch to the right near the top of the page. You could also check to see if the spoiler text really has anything to do with the trope. If it doesn't, delete it. Alternatively, turn on "Night Vision" mode to have the spoilers turn black instead of white.

    Media Categories 
A list of the TV Tropes standard media categories. These are the folders you should make on a trope page. It's fine if you don't include them all or if you need an unusual one which isn't on here. For further information, see the Media Categories FAQ.
Anime and Manga
Comic Books
Comic Strips
Live-Action TV
Tabletop Games
Video Games
Visual Novels
Web Animation
Web Video
Western Animation

    Media Categories FAQ 

Is there any particular order the categories should go in?

We generally favour ordering the categories alphabetically, though it's OK to put the Trope Namer's category first. Also, if a trope is primarily associated with one medium, that medium should naturally go at the top.

However, in all cases, Real Life always goes last, and Other goes before Real Life but after everything else. If you see an category in the wrong place, go ahead and move it.

What category do animated films go in?

They get their own category, namely Films — Animation.

Why do animated films get their own category?

To avoid confusion over whether they belong under Films or Western Animation (or Films or Anime & Manga, for Japanese animated films). No, that's not how it works with the namespaces.

Couldn't you solve that problem by having a unified Films category and a unified Television category? Alternately, couldn't you solve that problem by having a unified Live-Action category and a unified Animation category?

The Western Animation, Live-Action TV, and Films categories are often very large already. Combining them into two larger categories would make it more difficult to find specific examples.

Also, trying to do the combination might lead to holy war between people who think the film vs. television distinction is more important and people who think the live-action vs. animation distinction is more important. It's much simpler just to make both distinctions.

Why is there a single Anime & Manga category rather than separate Anime and Manga categories?

The relatively close relationship between anime and manga makes this more convenient. So much anime has a manga version and vice versa, and the adaptations are often so similar, that separating the two categories would lead to a lot of duplicated examples, as well as making it difficult for people who aren't familiar with an example to figure out which of the categories it should go in.

Why is Anime & Manga its own category, rather than being combined with the Animated Television and Comic Books categories?

There are several reasons for this:

  • It allows us to lump anime and manga together without lumping all animation and comics together — the previous answer should explain to you why this is a good idea.
  • Again, the combination would mean we were lumping categories together which are often very large already.
  • Many TV Tropes readers are either extremely interested in anime and manga or not at all interested in them. Separating them out makes it easier for these people to find the examples they're interested in, especially on pages with folders.

Where should examples from William Shakespeare go?

If there's a Poetry category, list his poems there. If not, they can be listed under Literature, or you can make a Poetry section.

His plays are always listed under Theatre; if you see one listed under Literature, that is an error, and it should be moved.

    Works Pages Are A Free Launch 
One of the few guidelines for this informal wiki is that the Trope Launch Pad is required for tropes pages. It's to get feedback from the Wiki Hive Mind on whether these pages are valid (or "tropable"), and if so to get help with refining these pages. It is not a strict requirement, we don't really do many of those here, but there are several guidelines such as the Three Rules of Three to help you make a decent page that won't have to be merged or renamed at a later date.

However, if you want to make a page about a work (a Series, Film, Literature, Video Game, etc.) or about Creators involved in making works, then the fact that There Is No Such Thing as Notability comes into play. While you are welcome to use the Trope Launch Pad to gather examples and polish the page, you aren't required to. As long as these people and their works exist, are published (unpublished works have their own dark little corner), and are not porn, then they have a right to a page. Do make sure we don't have it already — if it's part of a series, the entire series might be on one page.

Hats for instance matter less as you do not need to get any approval for the page or show that it's been defined to some level. Whether or not it went onto the Trope Launch Pad or the forums would not be considered and may not be optimal—we don't really have a defined system (neither optional nor mandatory) for how to make a work's page.

Note: If someone puts a works page on the Trope Launch Pad, please don't just post the phrase "Works Pages Are a Free Launch". Doing so will get you suspended by the moderators. Instead, provide additional information such as "If you'd like help with your works page we can add tropes and advice, but you can go ahead and launch it because Works Pages Are A Free Launch".

For a step-by-step walkthrough, see How to Create a Works Page.

There are several paths you may take:


  • You could bring it to the Trope Launch Pad like somebody did for Johnny Depp (to get a good description of his landmark films and the right names of the tropes associated with him) but you don't have to and nobody will care. It's also a bit of a pain with entries slipping down the list due to less interest and a system more suited to short discussions. You can launch at any point; you can even leave the the Trope Launch Pad entry running for longer to help flesh things out.
  • You could Take It to the Forums, and this would probably be best. You don't need the officious launch for these pages, and the media forums are probably better for drawing people who would know something about the work. It's also a better set up for collecting longer discussion either from lots of people or two people with a lot of back and forth or, for instance, if you have lots of adaptations and the way to organise them to worry about, or if it's a series of installments, or what should be seen as the proper spoiler level. Posts won't get buried as they are in the Trope Launch Pad. You'd just have to accept that you'll have a longer turnaround time on responses.
  • You could just launch it by yourself. There are no Three Rules of Three to think about here, so it's fine to make it a one-man job. Just make sure you have enough for the page to be viable: a decent description beyond a stub, and a list of the tropes in the work that should also be crosswicked. You get less Wiki Magic at first, but your page will still grow somewhat. You can take it to the forums for expansion later if you wish.

Some people might say There Is No Such Thing As A Free Launch. They are... best ignored.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: