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    Q 
  • Queer Media is an index for works that have a strong focus on LGBT+ themes, having queer main characters whose sexual orientation and/or gender identity is integral to the story. Works that simply have prominent characters who happen to not be cisgender or heterosexual should instead be listed on LGBT Representation in Media.
  • Quirky Household refers to a strange but loving family, and not to a Dysfunctional Family that happens to be quirky.
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    R 
  • Rage-Breaking Point is when the anger is held back, but then breaks through. If there is already anger released, it doesn't count. This isn't "rage crescendo".
  • Ragnarök Proofing refers to objects (preferably ruins of civilizations) undergoing extremely long periods of time (on the scale of many decades, at the least) with no use or maintenance and remaining intact and usable with negligible decay and damage. Not just "something that's still in good shape after so long"; it has to have been abandoned to qualify.
  • Rated M for Manly refers to, as it says on the Laconic entry, "Any work or character with an emphasis on masculinity—made by men for men—often involving badassery taken up to eleven." Many examples, however, have little to no explanation for why they are there, and more often than not they translate to "I found this work to be the epitome of badassery and awesomeness" with little context to back it up. It also gets confused with Testosterone Poisoning; the key difference is that Rated M For Manly is manliness played straight, while Testosterone Poisoning is a parody of manliness.
  • Real Men Wear Pink is a trope about characters who are Rated M for Manly in most ways, but have one stereotypically un-manly or feminine characteristic, such as liking to make pastries or enjoying childrens' television. It sees a lot of misuse from tropers who just see "Men Wear Pink" and slap it onto any male character who has any amount of pink in his character design, even if the color doesn't necessarily have connotations of femininity in this context or if the guy isn't very masculine otherwise (such as an Agent Peacock, who differs from that trope by being feminine in many ways while still being a badass).
  • Real Women Don't Wear Dresses has developed many, many problems. It gets potholed incorrectly all the time, despite its straightforward title. Moreover, it's usually accompanied by whining and soapboxing about what female characters should and shouldn't be. Most of the (potholed) examples could be summed up as "Complaining About People Not Liking Damsel Scrappies You Like". The trope was originally about feminine clothes/mannerisms/hobbies being associated with weakness. Apparently, a lot of people think it is about backlash against female characters who are weak (but not necessarily 'girly').
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech requires it be delivered to the face of whomever it's aimed at such that they could be directly affected by it. It does not apply to simply saying someone sucks if the someone is not being confronted by it nor to complaints about fictional characters (unless they're confronted in-universe) or things that aren't characters (like the work itself) as they cannot react to the speech.
  • Reboot is becoming a catch-all term for any new installment of a franchise that has been dormant for a while, when many of these examples are actually Revivals. The difference is simple: Reboot = Different continuitynote  (i.e. DuckTales (2017) is a reboot because it is not a continuation of DuckTales (1987), but instead takes place in a separate timeline) Revival = same continuity (i.e. iCarly (2021) is a revival, not a reboot, since it's a direct continuiation of the original iCarly.) It doesn't help that many journalists and people within the industry misuse the term as well.
  • Reconstruction. Distilling everything that makes a character or work awesome in an adaptation is actually Adaptation Distillation, hence the name. It also does not merely mean "taking a genre and making it Lighter and Softer". It has to address the issues brought up in a deconstruction and then make the tropes/genre/whatever still work, but with a degree of realism to it.
  • "Recycled IN SPACE!" meant adding a gimmicky premise to a Sequel Series or self-proclaimed Spiritual Successor to make it seem different, rather than just continuing the original series. An example would be The Suite Life of Zack & Cody (a show about twins living in a hotel) and its Sequel Series The Suite Life on Deck (a show about those same twins on a cruise ship). However, far too many examples were complaining about Dueling Shows, Follow the Leader, or Serial Numbers Filed Off, or pointing out that two works have some similarities but also differences. This is why the trope is now called Recycled with a Gimmick.
  • Recycled Script refers to stories reused from previous works from the franchise or creator, not just a work that's similar to another unconnected work.
  • Redshirt Army is specifically for incompetent/easily killed faceless good guys. It's not for any faceless army that gets easily killed, nor is it about an army with literal red uniforms.
  • Refuge in Audacity is committing a crime or scheme that is so outrageous no one can take it seriously. It is not about a joke that is so offensive it becomes funny; that is Crosses the Line Twice.
  • The Reveal is a dramatic and important plot point being revealed. It doesn't have to change everything like a Wham Line does, but it has to change something — it's not about miscellaneous worldbuilding.
  • A Revenge Fic is a fanfiction where the author gets revenge on a character they hate. While it's entirely possible for a fanfic where a character gets revenge on another character to be a Revenge Fic, it doesn't count unless it is explicitly stated by the author that he is getting revenge on that character.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves happens when a traitor is killed or punished by the party who benefits from the betrayal (usually a villain but heroic examples exist). It's not when the betrayed one takes revenge on the traitor or when the traitor gets any other kind of comeuppance from someone other than those they turned traitor for.
  • Riddle for the Ages is, as the description explains, something that is never explained, whether within the work itself, Word of God or All There in the Manual. If something is explained by the creator or supplemental material or if the explanation is in a later episode, issue or film, it is not an example.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots are human because of features that no programmer would consider practical for a robot, not just because they look like a human. This makes Tin-Can Robot not the polar opposite of this trope.
  • A Right-Hand Cat is any passive (as opposed to active) pet owned by a villain, regardless of species. This also means that if a villainous pet cat (or a pet of any other species) is an active fighter, then it belongs under Right-Hand Attack Dog.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge requires the "rampage" part as much as the "revenge" part, no matter how vengeance-obsessed the perpetrator is.
  • A Robot Girl is an artificial/mechanical being (e.g., Artificial Human, Ridiculously Human Robot, Energy Being, Cyborg, Artificial Intelligence, Spaceship Girl), usually female, who is shown in-universe to be attractive, not a collection of all female examples of the above, in-universe attractiveness notwithstanding.
  • Romantic Plot Tumor has threatened to become a repository for romantic plots that someone doesn't particularly care for — even when the romance story is central to that particular plot, rather than the romance story creeping into and taking over the main plot.
  • Ron the Death Eater has been used to talk about people disliking a character for doing supposedly questionable actions. It is supposed to be for when people demonize a character by exaggerating or cherry-picking supposedly-questionable actions, sometimes just making stuff up if the character didn't do anything "bad" to begin with.
  • Pretty much all of the "Rule Of" tropes get heavy misuse. Rule of Funny, Rule of Cool, Rule of Sexy, Rule of Scary, Rule of Fun, Rule of Cute, and so on. They get used as if they lacked the "Rule Of" part when potholed. The Rule Of tropes are this: "Any violation of continuity, logic, physics, or common sense is permissible as long as it succeeds in being what it should be".
  • Rule of Three is one that gets thrown around in Pot Holes similarly to Recycled IN SPACE! and Precision F-Strike seemingly just to lampshade how the troper wrote what they wrote. Its intention is to show that three is an extremely common number for writers to use in many different ways, such as with repetition, where it is a good number to stop at in order to establish repetition without letting it go stale. On the site, however, it's usually just potholed whenever anything happens three times, or worse, when somebody writes a joke themselves in three times and then potholes the third one to it. Of course, the worst is when somebody potholes to it for the third instance in a chain of more than three, meaning it isn't really an example anyway.

    S 
  • A Sadist Show is a work where the suffering of the characters is always Played for Laughs and is not intended to make them sympathetic. Furthermore, said suffering (even if it is humorous) has to be the focal point of the work, rather than just something that happens often.
  • Sanity Slippage is sometimes confused with Jerkass Ball, or even, in rare cases, Idiot Ball, neither of which are related to going insane.
  • Sarcasm Mode is supposed to be about marking text in a certain way to indicate that a sarcastic statement is being made, but is also used just to refer to sarcasm in general, even in spoken dialogue, or when the sarcastic text isn't any different from serious text.
  • Salvaged Story only applies to the original contentious story being fixed in-canon, not adaptations/Alternate Continuity or doing similar stories better, and to narrative fixes, not presentation or gameplay. It also must be an after the fact response not planned before the audience complaints.
  • Sarcastic Title means that title-content dissonance is played for sarcasm to drive a point home. It's frequently applied to any title that intentionally inverts Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • The page for Satan is meant specifically for portrayals of Satan himself. It is not meant for characters who are clearly based on him but aren't him or at least implied to be, such as Aku. List them under Satanic Archetype, instead. The page itself even explains this.
  • Scary Black Man is meant to be about how Black characters tend to be large and physically imposing. The work has to present the body of a Black person as inherently intimidating even before they do anything scary (or if they do anything scary at all). However, some people apply it to any dark-skinned character who engages in acts of violence, even if they lack an imposing physique. A Lean and Mean Serial Killer who happens to have brown skin, for example, would not be a Scary Black Man as it is his actions, not his body, that make him scary. It also sees misuse for any scary minority character, including some that just barely qualify for Ambiguously Brown.
  • The Scrappy gets a lot of definition drift. It is a character universally hated by the fandom. If the character is mostly loved, but a Vocal Minority doesn't like them, they're not a scrappy. If the character gets a roughly equal amount of love and hate, they're a Base-Breaking Character (This also means that tropes in the Scrappy Index, such as Rescued from the Scrappy Heap and Take That, Scrappy!, cannot apply to Base Breaking Characters). It's also not a trope to complain about characters that bother you personally. It's also not an Intended Audience Reaction; a character designed to be hated is a Hate Sink. Groups and species cannot qualify (as members can vary in popularity), only individual characters. It also gets misused to list characters' creators, most commonly let's players and reviewers, personally hate when it's strictly for fan reaction.
  • Scrappy Mechanic is about a mechanic in an otherwise good game, not just bad game mechanics in general (i.e. "I like this game a lot, but this one game mechanic is annoying."). Not any bad game mechanic. Otherwise, every widely-disliked game would have pages upon pages of Scrappy Mechanics listed here.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them! is for when someone deliberately ignores rules, but does not actually change them. Otherwise, it's Forgot I Could Change the Rules.
  • Screwed by the Network refers to when a show is either intentionally sabotaged, or at least looks like it. It does not refer to shows in which there are differing opinions on why they were canceled, nor is it a way to complain about your favorite show being canceled.
  • Scrub and "Stop Having Fun" Guy refer to gamers who impolitely impose their ruleset on everyone who plays with them. Poor skill level alone does not equal a Scrub. High skill level and a tendency to play on tournament settings, however un-"fun" they are to more casual players alone do not equal a Stop Having Fun Guy - they have to insist everyone else who ever plays, tournament or otherwise, plays the way they themselves have determined to be the "correct" way.
  • Seasonal Rot refers to one particular season of a show that is judged in hindsight to be markedly inferior to other seasons. Way too many people are using the term to mean "I don't like the current season." It also does not mean "got less good over time," which is Jump the Shark.
  • Second Year Protagonist is not just "protagonist is a second year student at their school", which is People Sit on Chairs. There must be some narrative significance as to why the story assigned them to that grade level.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny is for when a work that was once considered innovative or ground-breaking now comes off as mundane and derivative because other works or later installments have used its once unique aspects so often that they become commonplace. Some use it to bash any work that has gotten any degree of hate since its release date, regardless of if it was once unique or imitated.
  • Self-Made Orphan refers to when a character kills both of their parents. If the character in question only kills either their father or mother, it falls under Patricide or Matricide instead.
  • Sequelitis is when a series is observed to get worse with each new installment. However, it tends to get misused to complain about any bad sequel or installment in a series, even if that series has been consistently well-received up to that point.
  • Seven Deadly Sins: Any group with enough people in it will invariably draw attempts to shoehorn them into the seven sins.
  • Shadow Archetype refers to a character that serves as an external representation of what a character rejects about themselves used to symbolize their conflict with it. However, it's often used in the place of Evil Counterpart or Foil.
  • The Shameless Fanservice Girl trope requires that the character violates a nudity taboo in some way. Like with Innocent Fanservice Girl, its name has also been taken literally to refer to just about any Ms. Fanservice or Mr. Fanservice character who is self-aware and not entirely ashamed of themselves, whether it's simply being suggestive with a revealing but not illegal costume, or even just making a lot of suggestive comments. The bottom paragraph also mentions that simply going to locations where states of undress are to be expected do not count, something several examples ignore, citing examples such as nude beach-goers.
  • Contrary to what its name may imply, She's a Man in Japan refers to any Gender Flip (male to female or female to male) of any character in any translation of any work. There are no inversions.
  • A Shout-Out has to be intentional on the part of the creators. It is not a coincidental similarity between works. Before you succumb to the urge to write "looks like a Shout-Out to", consider how likely it is that the creator of Work B is familiar with Work A, and whether or not the element in question bears more than a passing similarity to the element in the original work. Also note that, since tropes are patterns shared across works and even genres and mediums, it's possible for Work B to have a similar plot or many similar tropes to Work A and still not be a Shout-Out. In fact, if you don't know it's a Shout-Out, it's probably best not to mention it. Additionally, a Shout-Out has to be referring to a work outside the franchise; if it's referring to another work in the same franchise, then it's a Mythology Gag instead.
  • Shown Their Work is in regards to the creators doing the research and letting it show. As with many such tropes, sometimes it gets used by a troper to point out when they themselves did the research on something, like how many of a rare vehicles are still on the road.
  • A Signature Scene is supposed to be the scene that defines a work, and may be so iconic that even people unfamiliar with the work can recognize it. However, the trope's YMMV status means that it can quickly turn into an exercise in listing any scene that's memorable or has reached meme status within the fandom. It's true that particularly famous works can have multiple famous scenes, but if a single film/season/game has a double-digit list that looks more like a scene-by-scene recap of the plot, it probably means that most of them don't qualify.
  • "The Simpsons Did It", a reference to a South Park episode, was meant to be the name for a joke where a character comes up with a unique and original idea, only to realize it's not as "unique" or "original" as they believed. Tropers, however, would consistently mistake its purpose to literally be "a trope used by The Simpsons", making it rather redundant considering we already have the page for The Simpsons to list tropes used by The Simpsons. The page eventually had to be renamed to "It's Been Done" to curb the misuse.
  • Sinister Scimitar is supposed to be about how scimitars or similar curved swords are portrayed as evil or imposing to the point of being associated with villainous archetypes. It is frequently misused as just "character uses a scimitar", which devolves into People Sit on Chairs.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot is a character who can be identified with "curses frequently compared to everyone else." Someone who is a Sir Swears-a-Lot is not just someone who frequently uses curse words; they have to use disproportionately more foul language than the other characters in the work to qualify. If only one character is dropping Cluster F Bombs, he counts. If everyone's doing it, they're not all examples.
  • A Sixth Ranger is a late addition to The Team of heroes or villains and is not necessarily the sixth character. However, this trope does commonly overlap with Five-Man Band (which makes such an ensemble The Team instead, as "five members" means "five members"), hence the trope name.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss refers to characters slapping and then kissing each other, or at least exchanging some kind of physical violence followed by affection. Too many people think this trope refers to the overall atmosphere of a relationship, which is covered by Belligerent Sexual Tension and Masochism Tango.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism is not about how light or dark a work's setting is, but about how supportive or critical a work's tone is to the ideals involved in its subject matter.
  • Small Name, Big Ego is supposed to describe a relative nobody who has an inexplicably huge egonote . Too often, it's used to describe people or characters that simply have a big ego, even if they are indeed as good as they claim. Try looking for Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy or It's All About Me for these cases.
  • A Smug Snake is not just an incompetent wannabe-Chessmaster. He's a villain designed to be unsympathetic due to arrogance — he might have a few traits of The Chessmaster in him, but will always be closer to Hate Sink than Magnificent Bastard. People also tend to shoehorn it to arrogant characters in general, even if he doesn't fulfill the other criteria which qualify him for the trope. It's also not the evil counterpart trope to Small Name, Big Ego. An evil character can be a Small Name, Big Ego without being a Smug Snake.
  • Snark Bait is a work that people want to watch just so they can make fun of how bad it is. Before being removed entirely, most of the examples were just about works that were widely seen as bad, treating it as So Bad, It's Horrible with looser requirements.
  • The Sociopath requires a character to have a Lack of Empathy, be a Straw Nihilist, a Consummate Liar, and a Manipulative Bastard, and have a need for stimulation, a grandiose sense of self-worth, and a shallow effect. Many examples have people saying a character is a sociopath simply for not caring for other peoples' feelings. Alternatively, they're called a sociopath for either being dangerously violent or enjoying the pain of others, which are separate concepts that need not overlap.
  • "Some Anvils Need To Be Dropped" referred to when a story has an Anvilicious message, but the story actually works better because it's so blatant. Due to the misleading title, it was often used to say "any message I agree with that was done in an Anvilicious manner." Sometimes, it was even used when the message was well-written instead of being Anvilicious, was just an important message overall, or was just a nice, uplifting messages in general. SANTBD is about how the message is presented, not what the message is. The misuse overtook the original meaning to the point that SANTBD was reworked to simply redirect to Anvilicious.
  • For something to be So Bad, It's Horrible, it's not enough to be a commercial failure—there are many commercially unsuccessful works that have been hits with critics—it must fail both commercially and critically. It's also often misused for complaining, or simply for works that suffer from a large Periphery Hatedom. If a kids show is hated by adults but does well with kids, it's not an example. It has to be hated even by its target audience to count. Some people also rush to add works that deal with controversial subject matter like political extremism or sexual deviance, even when the work is liked by people who share those views - examples should be about why the work is Horrible, not the creator's beliefs. The important thing isn't just the presence of a large hatedom, but rather the absence of people who don't hate the work.
  • So Bad, It Was Better was renamed from "I Liked It Better When It Sucked". The change is to address that it is for when a work that is So Bad, It's Good gets a sequel or remake that removes the "bad" aspects and its entertainment values diminishes to become merely So Okay, It's Average. Many examples forget that people need to have enjoyed the original because it was So Bad, It's Good and instead talk about works with lower production values or outdated technology (i.e. the original uses practical effects over a newer version's computer-generated imagery) regardless of whether or not it was really "bad" that people preferred for nostalgic reasons or felt that actual merit was lost.
  • So Okay, It's Average is supposed to be "works that are just all right," but it's often misused as "This work is supposed to be great, but I find it average!" when that is Hype Backlash. It's also for the general reception of a work; it isn't for works you personally found average.
  • Sophomore Slump applies to series that make an awful or mediocre second installment then make a better third one. It tends to be misused as "The series becomes bad or keeps getting worse from the second installment onwards."
  • Spell My Name with an S is supposed to be about official spelling mistakes, but it's frequently used for spells fans disagree with or just a regular name/word being spelt differently than it usually is.
  • Sphere Eyes is supposed to be about a cartoon character having large, connected eyes. Tropers think it's about separated eyes in general cartoons and misuse it as such.
  • A Sphere of Destruction is an explosion that inflicts no damage outside of its blast radius, destroying everything in a defined area but leaving things just outside that area completely unharmed. It is often used for any attack that's spherical and causes destruction, such as an Energy Ball.
  • A Spiritual Successor is a work that is thematically or (in the case of video games) mechanically similar to a previous work, except not part of the same continuity, and it has to be a deliberate successor that shares some of the same creator(s). But too often (especially on video game pages), Spiritual Successor gets an example on the work page that's basically "I think this work is a lot like this other work that has an entirely different creator", which is YMMV and should be filed as Spiritual Adaptation instead.
  • Spoiled Sweet is frequently misused for any rich or spoiled character who also happens to be nice or not a complete brat. Sometimes the character in question is just rich and nice without the spoiled part, which is not this trope (or any trope for that matter). The character has to be pampered and sheltered, genuinely sweet to everyone to the point of being naive, and adored by everyone, meaning a Lonely Rich Kid is disqualified by definition. Also, due to the nature of the trope, it's supposed to be Always Female, but people still add it to male characters.
  • Start of Darkness refers to prequels revealing a villain's backstory when that backstory wasn't shown in the original work. Most tropers seem to just use it to mean "any villain backstory", even if the backstory is shown within the same work that introduced the villain. Other times, it's shoehorned for the first evil thing a Fallen Hero or otherwise soon-to-be-villain does to cement that status; you're looking for Face–Heel Turn or Jumping Off the Slippery Slope there. Stories wherein good or neutral characters gradually become villains but aren't necessarily set up as prequels fall under Protagonist Journey to Villain.
  • Stealth Pun refers to a pun hidden in the work that requires a bit of thinking from the audience. Tropers often use it to refer to any pun, even ones that are directly stated.
  • Strangled by the Red String is a trope meaning that two characters who were at most friends or allies, but never had any romantic feelings, suddenly get together or express romantic interest. However, some people tend to use it to mean "This couple had no chemistry or was very shallow", or worse, "I didn't like this pairing". At most, the former is Romantic Plot Tumor or Satellite Love Interest, and the latter is just another Complaining About Shows You Don't Like subset. This got so bad that some people would assume an entry they disagreed with as just "I didn't like this pairing" even if it was an actual entry. Because of that, the trope became a YMMV trope.
  • Straw Feminist gets some of the worst misuse as a Lighter and Softer substitute for "feminazi". It doesn't matter how radical, misandrist or anti-feminine the "feminist" is. If she is not portrayed negatively, or is a real person, she is not a straw feminist.
  • Straw Hypocrite often lacks what is meant to distinguish it from regular Hypocrite since they are often used as strawmen. While the former's hypocrisy stems from their devotion to a cause being a sham and knowing it, the latter is unaware of their hypocrisy, have rationalized it, and or still truly believe in their cause despite it.
  • Strawman Has a Point is misused for any time a character who is supposed to be in the wrong is seen by audiences as having unintentionally valid arguments, neglecting they have to be a Straw Character (i.e. a character created expressly to be unsympathetic and wrong). If the character is a previously established, normally sympathetic character (e.g. a hero or protagonist) who's meant to be wrong in this instance, that's Informed Wrongness.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome is when a returning character dies early on in the sequel. It's sometimes misused for any returning character who dies in a sequel even if it happens midway or during the climax.
  • Subverted Trope: Or at least the word "subverted" is misused all over the place. The term means a bait and switch move with a trope. Many here think it means any form of Playing with a Trope, simply not using the trope in a genre or medium where it would be expected to be used (that's simply averting the trope), or even playing a trope straight but they want to say it's subverted anyway.
  • Sugar Apocalypse requires danger to happen to cutesy characters in a cutesy setting. If the characters are cute but the setting isn't particularly so, then it's not an example.
  • Super Drowning Skills is when a character dies or faints or whatever the moment they come in contact with water. Sometimes it only applies to particular "dangerous" types of water, but it's always an instant effect. This is, by and large, a video game mechanic — while it can appear in non-interactive media, it's pretty rare, and far more often it's being misused for a character being bad at swimming by realistic standards.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome is when something happens as it would in real life instead of established convention for the work or genre. In other words, you can't have a Surprisingly Realistic Outcome without an Expected Unrealistic Outcome. Many examples ignore that and just list every little plot twist that can be described as realistic, to the point that the cleanup thread found the vast majority of examples to be shoehorns. Things like magic or time travel having consequences or limitations that are unexpected, but sensical also doesn't count - the realistic outcome in these cases would be for these things to do absolutely nothing, because they don't exist. Neither do a character's personal reaction to something, such as refusing to forgive someone or being traumatized by a dangerous situation - -psychology is an incredibly complicated thing, and it's impossible to tell if a reaction is really realistic or unrealistic. A lot of this misuse originated from the trope's old, unclear name, "Reality Ensues"note , but renaming it doesn't seem to have helped much.

    T 
  • Tailor-Made Prison is supposed to be a prison that is made just for the one character but often lists any hard to escape prison which is covered by The Alcatraz.
  • Take That!, of all tropes, gets a lot of misuse. It is meant to refer to moments where a work takes a jab at another work, but occasionally is potholed to scenes where a work takes a jab at its own franchise, by tropers who apparently forget that Self-Deprecation exists. It is also frequently used to refer to scenes where a work slams a real-life person or something else that isn't a work.
  • The Team Dad and the Team Mom are acting parental figures to any group; they do not have to be literal parents to the other members. Both roles are defined by personality; a Team Dad is strict and leads by example, whereas a Team Mom is warm and nurturing. This also means that a Team Dad can be female and that a Team Mom can be male.
  • Tear Jerker is No Real Life Examples, Please!, meaning examples about the deaths of real people involved with the work's production should not be included. Besides, being mortal is just People Sit on Chairs.
  • That One Index has "One" in its title for a reason. It's supposed to refer to one, maybe two or three at most, challenges in the game that are much more difficult than the rest. Take That One Level and That One Boss for example, which refers to levels and bosses that are significantly harder than the ones before them, not just any hard level or boss. If every boss is brutally difficult, you're probably looking at Nintendo Hard or Easy Levels, Hard Bosses; if anything, you are actually more likely to encounter examples of these tropes in easier games where there's room for surprise. Instead, a lot of YMMV pages for very hard video games and dedicated TOL/TOB pages will list most, if not all, bosses/levels, defeating the point of the trope. They also do not mean Dethroning Level or Boss of Suck; there are players who genuinely enjoy challenging parts of video games. Also, Scrappy Level is not a trope, having been renamed to That One Level to better reflect what the trope means, but people still add it to YMMV example lists as examples of "levels I hate."
  • There Is no Such Thing as Notability refers to the policy where pages for obscure works shouldn't be removed on the basis of obscurity. The term sometimes gets thrown around for things other than obscure works, like tropes and Just For Fun pages. Those rely on different standards, as a trope can indeed be too obscure to get a page and certain pages can and have be cut for being irrelevant to the mission of the wiki.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character is about characters with great potential that don't get as much exposure as you think they deserve. It is often misused for complaining about poor characterizations, the way a character is handled in the story or the portrayal of a fan favorite in an adaptation, or a character not appearing in an episode at all.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot, for plot points that are underdeveloped or not touched upon, has been reinterpreted into complaining about plot developments you don't like, a potentially interesting plot being poorly-executed, a plot thread that was left hanging, or What Could Have Been.
  • "Those Two Bad Guys" are a pair of villains who provide exposition and violence but is often used as if it's an Evil Counterpart to Those Two Guys, which refers to two characters (good or evil) that are almost always together while simultaneously having little to no significance to the plot. As a result of the misuse, the trope has been renamed to Bumbling Henchmen Duo.
  • Thin-Line Animation is not simply when a work has thin outlines. The art must be rounded and simplistic to truly qualify.
  • This! Is! Sparta! got a lot of examples that are simply the character in question being loud, not giving the required emphasis on each word; this led to the rename "Punctuated! For! Emphasis!" to emphasize what the trope was about. This is also another one of those tropes, similar to Rule of Three, Precision F-Strike, and Recycled IN SPACE!, which often gets shoehorned into pages in awkward and unnecessary ways. No page really needs somebody randomly adding in "It. Never. Stops." or some such to their own example and then potholing to it.
  • Token Black Friend had to be renamed from "Black Best Friend" because of this. The trope is about how, in many cases, a white character has a black friend who ends up being a Satellite Character that exists for the sole purpose of making the white lead appear more progressive. Simply having a friend who is black is as tropeworthy as people sitting on chairs, and yet many well-developed black characters have had this trope listed on their character sheet just because they're friends with a non-black character.
  • Too Cool to Live refers to a character who's so skilled or powerful (in other words, "cool") that they're killed off because otherwise, they'd interfere with the dynamics of the conflict. It sometimes gets reduced to "a character I liked who died." Often the Big Bad, The Dragon, or similarly plot-important villain who dies is given as an example of this trope. This is incorrect; the conflict with the big bad does not overshadow the plot, it IS the plot. Other examples include characters who were ganked during the final climactic battle or who didn't die at all. Even without these cases, most examples refer to cool characters whose death is integral to the plot, rather than a means to give other characters a chance to shine. Not helping matters is that the page description doesn't even mention this, plus it even mentions the main character dying at the end of the work.
  • Too Dumb to Live is often misused for any character stupidity. The "To Live" part means that it literally requires a character be killed or otherwise fall into a life-threatening situation as a result of their stupidity. If their stupidity instead puts others through the same circumstances, that's Lethally Stupid.
  • Too Soon was often misinterpreted as being literally about people exclaiming "Dude, too soon!" or asking "Was that too soon?" after hearing or making a comment about a recent event that was seen as in poor taste. The trope was actually about works being modified following a real-life tragedy in order to prevent audiences from thinking "too soon". This is why it was renamed to Distanced from Current Events.
  • Tough Act to Follow is often misused to critique or defend works whose reception suffers due to being compared to the high bar set by prior, well-received works. It is about the works that cause the high bar and should only go under them. Works that suffer from the high bar can go under Contested Sequel or Sequelitis if applicable.
  • Trademark Favorite Food is supposed to mean a food which a character is so obsessed with that it becomes a defining trait for that character. Many of the examples are more along the lines of "food this character mentioned liking once".
  • A Tragic Villain is a character who knows what they do is evil, wrong, and regret it, yet continues to do so believing they have no other choice. It does not refer to those evil due to tragic pasts (Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds) or anything overriding their moral agency (Brainwashed and Crazy, Tragic Monster). A Complete Monster is exempt from this because they have no genuine capacity for remorse, but they can be Subversions of it.
  • Trainwreck Episode referred to episodes of a show that focuses on a disaster such a car crash, fire, storm, etc. However, the "trainwreck" part was sometimes taken figuratively and the trope has been misused to describe things such as episodes of Lets Plays where the player or players keep failing at a certain section of the game, an episode where the creator runs into technical problems, or an episode of a Reality Show where the contestants keep failing. It ended up being renamed to Big Disaster Plot to make it more clear that it was about a certain type of plot.
  • A Trolling Creator is a creator who deliberately attempts to enrage people. Some tropers use it interchangably with Lying Creator or Teasing Creator, or to describe when a Bait-and-Switch happens in promotional material or when promotional material does something even remotely creative.
  • Amazingly enough, the word Trope itself has undergone severe Trope Decay on this site. A trope is something that's objectively a part of the work. Audience Reactions and Trivia are specifically stated on these pages to not be tropes, since they occur either in the work's audience or other external materials, not the work itself. Despite this, it's hard to find a page for an Audience Reaction or Trivia item that DOESN'T refer to itself as a Trope, and the YMMV and Trivia subpages for most works contain examples that say "This trope happens" or something similar. Even this very page, supposedly dedicated to correcting misused terminology, contains examples describing Audience Reactions and Trivia as "tropes"! And Playing with a Trope is something that can only be done to actual Tropes since Audience Reactions are very rarely "played" in the first place, so most examples on a YMMV page that are "Subverted" or "Downplayed" are inherently misuse.
  • An inversion of this is tropers thinking that mentioning a trope happening in Real Life somehow is not the same thing as stating a trope is Truth in Television, and feel the need to state the latter, especially in Trope Launch Pad (the reason it's not listed in the descriptions is because TiTV is an index, which can't be used in Trope Launch Pad).
  • There's some room for debate about the exact definition of Tsundere, but it definitely is not supposed to describe any character who ever has a crush on someone and tries to hide it, nor does it mean "character who is mostly angry, but sometimes nice," nor "character who is mostly nice, but sometimes gets really angry." The Tsundere acts cranky and aggressive because she doesn't know how to deal with or properly express her more tender emotions.
  • A Twinkle in the Sky is sometimes used whenever a character or object is sent flying really far away, even if they don't actually make a twinkle.
  • Two Decades Behind is for when works set in the present contain anachronistic details from the past, or when no longer cool things are presented as the latest hot fad. For works that take place two decades ago, see 20 Minutes into the Past.

    U 
  • Übermensch — not so much the trope itself, but with the definition of its polar opposite the Last Man.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife is fairly self-explanatory, but that doesn't stop countless people from adding "I think this woman is sexy, and the guy is average at best, so I'll add it" type stuff. The article requires near-constant pruning to prevent this and other exaggerations of what counts as "ugly". The Real Life section was even worse and had to be axed ("this girl's not having my baby!")
  • Unbuilt Trope is when a work uses a trope in a serious, unsentimental way before the trope is popularized, and so ends up looking like a Deconstruction in retrospect. But many Tropers have Deconstruction confused with other, similar tropes, so Unbuilt Trope is misused accordingly.
  • Uncanny Valley refers to when something looks extremely realistic (usually humanlike, but animal examples can exist), but not quite there, to the point that it causes a sense of unease in the audience. People have been using it to refer to creepy- or weird-looking stuff in general, such as a simply unusual art style, even if those things don't even look realistic in the first place.
  • Unexpected Character: Emphasis on the word "character" as this isn't a trope for anything unexpected. If something ends up being unexpected other than a character, then it would fall under Shocking Moments. Same thing goes for any character that is expected to appear, but certain other circumstances involving that character (such as them turning out to be the Big Bad) to be unexpected as regardless of how unexpected those circumstances were, the fact still remains they were still expected to appear in some shape or form.
  • Unexplained Accent is an accent at odds with the work's setting and character's background with no explanation, such as someone having a foreign accent not shared by anyone in their family and not one they would have developed from their upbringing. It is not just about characters with accents or characters putting on a fake accent.
  • Unfortunate Implications has a much more narrow definition than its name implies.note  A lot of tropers pretty much use it for "something that one person could maybe possibly be offended by" and it got so bad that the Unfortunate Implications index had to be cut because people were putting tropes such as "Cruella to Animals" (supposedly because it offends people who eat meat) on there. Tropers quite often pothole to Unfortunate Implications for examples of Fridge Horror. In a similar vein, the pages have tons of examples of That Came Out Wrong listed on them, without any real implication anyone could confuse it for Unfortunate Implications. Possibly looking to sweep the inaccuracy Olympics, these examples will quite often have something in them that outright admits that this example was That Came Out Wrong, thus effectively admitting that the edit has no reason to be there and that the reader's time was just wasted in reading it. Unfortunate Implications is also sometimes potholed to when talking about intentional hate speech. This loose usage is largely the reason entries now require a reputable citation to prove the implications are noticeable to the general audience.
  • Unfortunate Names is In-Universe Examples Only, which means that the name has to be pointed out by a character In-Universe, rather than a name that fans find unfortunate.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic is misused to complain about characters being unsympathetic, forgetting the unintentionally part. If they are treated or called out as being in the wrong despite intended sympathetic traits this trope is not in effect unless they are seen as unsympathetic for different reasons than the narrative intends.
  • Unintentional Period Piece is when a work is loaded with dated references to the point it becomes a time capsule of a specific era. Many tropers use this item to simply list the dated references themselves even if the work only contains one or two minor things like a single line of dialogue, a background element or a piece of the soundtrack from an old fashioned artist. Also, many jump the gun and add recently released works because they feel like they're going to be dated at some point in the future.
  • Unrealistic Black Hole: The key word here is unrealistic. Make sure the depiction actually clashes with modern understanding of black hole physics before adding an example.
  • Unseen Evil was renamed from "Ultimate Evil" because too many people kept misusing it. It's supposed to refer to a villain so horrifying that they are (mostly) unseen. People would instead use it to describe characters who are evil incarnate, or they would confuse it with Greater-Scope Villain.
  • Unsettling Gender-Reveal is not just a shocking gender reveal. It is when what appeared to be compatible attraction is revealed to be incompatible upon a gender reveal, usually garnering a negative reaction.
  • Unsound Effect is supposed to mean a Written Sound Effect that's clearly not onomatopoeia, however, some people have started using it to describe any unusual sounding legitimate Written Sound Effect.
  • The Un-Twist became so bogged down with "I saw that one coming a mile away" entries that we had to nuke the page and start over. As it is a subjective trope, you should only list examples that most people would consider Untwists. Also, The Untwist only applies when people think it's so obvious that they either expect a different twist or no twist at all. If it's merely very obvious, that's Captain Obvious Reveal.
  • Ur-Example means the earliest known example that could reasonably fit a trope, often before people were even consciously aware the trope existed. It does not mean the "best" example or "my favorite" example, and should not be confused with Trope Maker or Trope Codifier.

    V 
  • Vanilla Protagonist is for protagonists who are intentionally made normal or ordinary in order to make a more colorful supporting cast stand out, but tropers often use it to complain about protagonists they found boring.
  • Video Game Settings is supposed to be an index categorizing various environments that appear in video games front and center. However, it is frequently misused as a trope in its own right, sometimes even perceived as a Supertrope, to the point that it became the biggest offender of Example Indentation in Trope Lists by being listed as the first bullet point in work pages, with whatever environments featured in the work being listed in the following second bullet points. Indexes are not meant to be listed in work pages as "main tropes" for "secondary tropes". That is not their purpose. They're there purely for archiving and categorizing tropes that fit within specific themes.
  • Villain Song is supposed to be about a villain in the context of a storyline, but the vast majority of the music examples are simply Sympathetic P.O.V. songs. Because of this, it is very, very difficult to make a proper example of a villain song outside of the context of a Concept Album as the trope doesn't describe a Sympathetic P.O.V., but rather a song describing a story's villain in song.
  • A Villain Protagonist is a main character who does explicitly evil things, not a main character who is merely unlikable. While there is room for an Anti-Villain to be put in the viewpoint role, tropers have a tendency to shoehorn any main character who are occasionally Jerkasses (like an Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist), Karmic Tricksters or Anti Heroes.
  • Vindicated by History only applies to works. The equivalent trope for characters is Rescued from the Scrappy Heap.
  • Violation of Common Sense is a gaming-only trope which applies to moments where perfoming an optional and seemingly stupid action grants a reward. Due to its non-explicit name, this is often confused with Stupidity Is the Only Option (a gaming-only trope about an instance where doing something stupid is required to advance the plot), Too Dumb to Live (a non-specifically gaming-related trope about someone doing something stupid and suffering from a predictably bad outcome), or just anything someone thinks violates common sense (usually not a trope at all).
  • Visual Effects of Awesome refers to awesome visual effects. The name is fairly self-explanatory, but it doesn’t stop people from using it to refer to awesome backgrounds, scenery, animation, or any other situation where Awesome Art would be more appropriate.
  • Vocal Evolution is when a single actor's voice for a particular character changes, not when the voice change is because of The Other Darrin. (i.e. SpongeBob SquarePants sounds different post-2003 because Tom Kenny's SpongeBob voice got higher? Vocal Evolution. Bugs Bunny sounds different because original actor Mel Blanc died and was replaced by other actors whose voices sound slightly different? Not Vocal Evolution.)
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    W 
  • Walking Shirtless Scene sometimes gets added to say: "He was shirtless in this and that occasions". The trope refers to characters who appear most or all of their appearances without a shirt.
  • Walking Spoiler is one of the most misused and misunderstood tropes on the whole wiki. Tropers fail to realize that this trope has, in fact, a very narrow definition — that the character's mere existence is a major spoiler. If you can talk about a character in the most basic sense (i.e. name, profession, basic relationship to the hero, etc.), then even if everything else is a spoiler, it's still not an example. A huge part of the examples just falls into the following categories: a) any characters that are involved in a plot twist, especially if the spoiler part is rather hard to explain, b) any case of First-Episode Twist, c) many cases of Late-Arrival Spoiler, Trailers Always Spoil, It Was His Sled and similar tropes, d) any character with a secret identity or secret motives, even if this is established in the exposition.
  • Walkthrough Mode is a specific form of natter on video game pages that goes "Um, actually, it's not hard if you do this." The page is commonly misunderstood as video game details being bad.
  • The War on Straw, at least when it comes to TV Tropes. Wikipedia notes that the "straw man fallacy" is the lumping of a strong opposition argument together with one or many weak ones to create a simplistic weak argument that can easily be refuted. However on TV Tropes, due to tropers not following the Rule of Cautious Editing Judgment, The War on Straw means "A character who is drawn only for the purposes of either proving them wrong or ridiculing them" and Real Life examples are no longer tolerated.
  • Wave of Babies (of all tropes!) underwent a bit of Trope Decay. It refers to a literal wave, not just a large number of babies in a small space.
  • A Wham Episode is an episode that permanently and radically shatters the status quo of a series but it's very often used for any episode that even slightly progresses a story arc even if everything goes back to normal after the end of the arc.
  • Wham Line and Wham Shot is an unexpected line or moment that completely changes the direction of a scene. Tropers tend to shoehorn examples of Internal Reveal or any memorable quotes (Pre-Mortem One-Liner, Armor-Piercing Question, etc) or moments. Also not all Wham Episodes have wham lines or shots, sometimes action speaks for itself.
  • What an Idiot! is not just any stupidity, it's specific moments where you'd expect them to make a smart decision only to make a dumb one instead. The You'd Expect/Instead is critical as it must explain why audiences would expect them to make a smart decision in that moment. It does not apply when you wouldn't expect them to make smart decision (they're normally stupid/unknowledgeable on the matter, not thinking straight at the moment, lack the time/information to make better thought out actions) or if there was no better option available or they would have know of at the time. Due to its misuse and Stupidity Tropes covering almost all such instances more objectively, it was made Flame Bait prohibiting off-page usage.
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong? is about an obvious catastrophe waiting to happen. Not someone literally saying the name. That's A Simple Plan.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids? and What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids? get mixed up a lot. The former is for works aimed at children that have a more adult subject matter, while the latter is for works aimed at older audiences that get confused for being kid-friendly.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic? got renamed to Faux Symbolism because people kept missing the "not" part, and thinking it dealt with real symbolism. The fact that Rule of Symbolism was created later and the page about Symbolism even later didn't help much.
  • What If?: An Alternate History is a work of Speculative Fiction set in a version of our universe where the course of history has changed. A What If? is a non-canon Spin-Off of a preexisting work where canon backstory elements have been retconned. While "Alternate History" and "What If?" are the same thing outside of TV Tropes, they're unrelated tropes here.note 
  • What the Hell, Hero? refers to when a hero commits a reprehensible act and is called out for it in-universe. Way too many tropers miss that crucial last part of the definition and use it to describe any instance of a hero acting like a jerk. Reviewers pointing this out also does not count.
  • White Magician Girl, back when it was called Staff Chick, received massive misuse with a lot of examples of characters who played the role of White Mage but didn't fulfill the characterization (the White Mage trope was created later to rectify this problem), or worse, examples that took the title literally and concentrated on staves alone, thus, several straight examples were considered subversions because they didn't use staves.
  • Why Would Anyone Take Him Back? only applies romantically, which is how it's distinct from Easily Forgiven. Any non-romantic examples are thus misuse.
  • Widget Series: "Widget" comes from WJT, Weird Japanese Thing. While the definition has since been expanded to not be specific to Japan, the core of the idea remains that the thing appears weird due to crossing cultural boundaries; it's not a catch-all for just anything you think is pretty weird.
  • The Woobie is supposed to be a character whose frequent or continuous suffering causes and/or attempts to cause the audience to feel sympathetic towards him as a pattern. It's often mixed up with Tear Jerker—which doesn't rely on a pattern—Butt-Monkey—which has no audience reaction part necessary—or Moe—which leads to a similarly protective reaction but has a different trope base that doesn't usually involve tangible suffering. It's also often used as a place to collect counterexamples to characters' lives being absolutely perfect, which isn't a trope or an audience reaction (while The Woobie itself is a mix of both), but a non-notable aversion.
  • Woolseyism is supposed to refer to changes in the localized version of a work that are considered superior to the native-language version of it; think of it as Superlative Dubbing but applied to writing instead of voice acting. However, it is too commonly thrown around to simply mean any changes to the work in the localization process.
  • Word of God is supposed to refer to official statements from the creators of a series. Every now and then it's used to refer to statements from people who were not involved in creating the series in question, or even just to theories that have achieved widespread acceptance among a fandom but have never had the creators state what they think of it.
  • The Worf Effect is for moments where a supposedly powerful fighter is defeated by a new threat to show how powerful that new threat is. That part is often forgotten and the trope is used to simply mean "this character is defeated by an opponent who should be weaker than them", even if it is not for the purpose of showing how powerful that character is.

    X 
  • Xanatos Gambit was clearly defined as a plan made to benefit the planner no matter the outcome. Many tropers just saw it as a brilliant scheme no matter the method and put just any clever plan from a character they liked in there. So we made Batman Gambit to define the trope better.
  • People think Xanatos Roulette means a Xanatos Gambit that's even more clever. They forget that the defining characteristic is that it breaks people's suspension of disbelief, often because The Plan relies too heavily on luck, hence it being a roulette. This is why the name was changed to Gambit Roulette; to break the association. Another problem was confusion with Evil Plan because of poor word choice at the article's start. It has since been corrected.

    Y 
  • The YMMV tab is for stuff in the YMMV index as well as Audience Reactions. Some people misuse it as listing objective tropes that they think make something they don't like sound good, or the other way around, despite that Tropes Are Tools. There are some odd and oddly pervasive instances of a sentence or phrase unambiguously gushing or complaining about a show but potholing to YMMV, likely the result of stealth justifying edits. This doesn't work even when one ignores the fact that potholing YMMV in the middle of an example at all is not supposed to happen.
  • A major component of a Yandere is their mad obsession over a particular character, to the point where it's toxic. If they're simply cute and sweet on the surface and dangerous and crazy underneath without having someone to obsess over romantically and/or sexually, you have Cute and Psycho.
  • Yaoi Fangirl is sometimes used as a synonym for Guy on Guy Is Hot, especially in cases where the character shows no interest beyond finding two boys making out in front of her sexy.
  • You All Look Familiar is sometimes mistaken for You Look Familiar. The latter is a trivia element about an actor portraying two or more different minor roles. You All Look Familiar is about limited or null variation of character design especially in video games.
  • You Bastard! is where a work shames the viewer for enjoying something that is or could be considered immoral within said work. It does not refer to a character actually saying, "You bastard!" or any similar phrase, which is where potholes to this trope are often found.
  • You Mean "Xmas" refers to a fictional holiday that is a Suspiciously Similar Substitute for Christmas, usually in a fantasy setting where Christianity couldn't realistically exist. It does not cover characters referring to Christmas as "Xmas".
  • You Suck had to be renamed to This Loser Is You because people kept thinking it was for instances of a video game mocking the player for being terrible at the game when it's really about an Audience Surrogate portrayed in a negative light.

    Z 
  • Zeerust refers to ideas of "futuristic" that, while still futuristic-looking, have a "retro" look to them. Back in the Troper Tales days, people wrote Troper Tales about how they prefer their older electronics to modern-day ones, which is completely different.
  • 0% Approval Rating can only be applied to an authority figure who is despised by everyone, yet it keeps getting misused for hated villains who aren't evil overlords (these characters fall under its supertrope Hated by All instead), or even works that receive mostly negative reviews.


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