Follow TV Tropes


Trope Distinctions / A to C

Go To

Part 1 of the Canonical List of Subtle Trope Distinctions. Items are sorted alphabetically by whichever trope is alphabetically first; if you're looking for a specific one, use the "Find" or "Search" function of your Web browser.

Pages: A — C | D — F | G — I | J — R | S — Z

    open/close all folders 


11th-Hour Superpower vs. Last Disc Magic

  • An 11th-Hour Superpower kicks in a few moments before the final battle, usually mandated by plot circumstances. If you can use it outside the final battle, you probably only have very little unfinished content to use it on.
  • Last Disc Magic is where powerful abilities are unlocked near the end of the game due to how the mechanics pace character progression. You still have a fair amount of game left to use this magic on.

20 Minutes into the Future vs. Next Sunday A.D.

  • A setting 20 Minutes into the Future is very much like today, but there have been a couple of big discoveries that have had some sort of impact on the world and become fairly significant (and are probably plot-relevant). If you took those away, it'd look like the present time.
  • A story set in Next Sunday A.D. is in the future, but there's no particular differences at all. You'd probably think it was a present-day setting if the work hadn't told you.
    • And yes, they are the wrong way round.


Accent Relapse vs. Accent Slip-Up vs. As Long as It Sounds Foreign vs. How's Your British Accent? vs. Just a Stupid Accent vs. Not Even Bothering with the Accent vs. Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping vs. What the Hell Is That Accent?:

  • Accent Relapse is when a character pretends to be from another country, and fakes the voice to go with it. When their cover is blown, they give up the impression and go back to their normal voice.
  • Accent Slip-Up is when a character uses a fake accent in-universe, but makes a brief blunder and has to cover for it.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign is more about the words used - although rather than 'words', a more-accurate description would be 'gibberish meant to sound like an untranslated language'.
  • How's Your British Accent? is when a character from one in-universe region is told to do the voice of a second region, when the character's actor is actually from that region in real life.
  • Just a Stupid Accent is when foreign languages in-universe are just delivered as English in a (usually stereotypical) voice.
  • Misplaced Accent is when a character has an accent that does exist in the setting, but doesn't sync up with the region that character is supposed to be from.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent is when the character is supposed to be from a certain location, but rather than try and do the appropriate accent the actor just does their own voice and everyone has to pretend it's correct. This may be due to the actor lacking the ability to (convincingly) do the appropriate accent, not just pure laziness.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping is the out-of-universe counterpart to Accent Slip-Up - the actor has to use a fake accent for their character's nationality, but they make a mistake and their real life accent sneaks in.
  • Unexplained Accent is when a character's accent shouldn't even exist in the setting at all, even allowing for in-universe travel and tropes like The Queen's Latin.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent? is when the character is supposed to be from a certain region and have an accompanying accent, but the actor delivers something that sounds like a broad mishmash of places vaguely including the correct territory.

Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal vs Barefoot Cartoon Animal vs Fully-Dressed Cartoon Animal vs Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal

Accidental Aesop vs Alternate Aesop Interpretation vs Warp That Aesop

Accidental Hero vs. Badass Unintentional vs. Miles Gloriosus

  • An Accidental Hero accidentally gains the reputation of a hero, without actually doing anything special.
  • A Badass Unintentional accidentally does something heroic/badass while their original intention was just to go about their lives or get away from the dangerous situation rather than solving it.
  • A Miles Gloriosus deliberately tries to give himself the reputation of a hero that he doesn't deserve.

Accidental Innuendo vs. Does This Remind You of Anything? vs. Heh Heh, You Said "X" vs. Innocent Innuendo vs. That Came Out Wrong

  • Accidental Innuendo occurs when something that is obviously meant to be non-sexual accidentally comes off as sexually charged.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything? involves the audience clearly being shown the innocence of a scene and tempted into viewing it suggestively. It is done on purpose by the writers.
  • Heh Heh, You Said "X" is when a character finds innuendo made accidentally by another character, or (especially with very immature characters) they just said something that sounds like a dirty word, like "duty" or "penal".
  • Innocent Innuendo is an Accidental Innuendo created on purpose by the writers, by revealing the suggestive tones first, and then revealing that it was genuinely innocent in context.
  • That Came Out Wrong occurs when the innuendo is accidental on the part of the character, but not the author.

Accidental Murder vs. I Didn't Mean to Kill Him vs. Murder by Mistake

  • Accidental Murder happens when someone dies, but the murderer had no intent to kill anyone, the death was purely an accident.
  • I Didn't Mean to Kill Him is a subtrope where the killer intended to do something to the victim (prank him, scare him, etc.) but did not know it would end up being lethal.
  • Murder by Mistake is when someone dies and the murderer had intent to kill, but kills the wrong person for whatever reason.

Accidental Nightmare Fuel vs. Nightmare Fuel

Accidentally Correct Writing vs. Shown Their Work

  • In Accidentally Correct Writing, a work of fiction got a fact correct, but it was due to coincidence rather than any research.
  • Shown Their Work occurs when a work of fiction made sure to do research before including any information.

Acclaimed Flop vs. Critical Dissonance vs. Critic-Proof

  • Acclaimed Flop: A work is loved by the critics and the audience but sells poorly.
  • Critical Dissonance: The critics and the audience disagree with each other about the quality of a work.
  • Critic-Proof: A work is disliked by the critics and the audience but manages financial success.

Achilles in His Tent vs. Deus Exit Machina vs. 10-Minute Retirement

Acid-Trip Dimension vs. Phantom Zone vs. Reality Is Out to Lunch:

  • Acid-Trip Dimension: An alternate dimension filled with strange things, where the emphasis is on them being scary or freaky. Often involves normal objects distorted into a freakish version of themselves.
  • Phantom Zone: An alternate dimension that, for the plot, serves as a way for characters to have fights and do stuff without interacting with the normal world they live in the rest of the time. Often has weird properties depending on the nature of the series, which makes said actions more exciting.
  • Reality Is Out to Lunch: An alternate dimension filled with strange things, where the emphasis is on the absence of convetional physics. This may look freaky to the eye, but the point is that 'Everything you know is wrong here' rather than their ability to unsettle.

Acting for Two vs. Talking to Himself vs. You Look Familiar

  • In Acting for Two an actor plays multiple roles in the same production; in animation and video games it can simply be because you can do with fewer voice actors than face actors but in live-action works two characters played by the same person are usually intended to be connected in some way.
  • In Talking to Himself two characters played by the same actor actually interact. It requires Acting for Two, but not all actors playing multiple roles end up talking to themselves.
  • In You Look Familiar, an actor who's played a role in one installment of a work (usually a TV show) plays a different one when they return to the franchise. They don't appear in the same installment together, and aren't meant to be connected.

Action Dad vs. Papa Wolf

  • An Action Dad is generally a badass 24/7. He'll always be looking out for his kids, as fathers do, but an action dad is more equal parts "action" and "dad" than Papa Wolf. His children are often part of the adventure, but the action dad need not be focused on protecting them.
  • A Papa Wolf doesn't have to be particularly badass or action-oriented, but endangering his kids is one sure-fire way to get on his bad side. Badass or no, he'll fight tooth and nail for them. Compared to Action Dad, being a Papa Wolf is more of a situational thing.

Action-Hogging Opening vs. Action Prologue vs. Batman Cold Open vs. The Teaser (aka Cold Open)

  • Action-Hogging Opening is when the out-of-plot opening sequence to a show is more action-packed than the rest of the work.
  • The point of all three other tropes is to draw the attention of the audience. How they differ is in what they are trying to draw attention to.
    • Action Prologue points out how awesome the piece will be by starting right in the middle of an action sequence. Maybe a fight scene, or a chase scene, or whatever gets your heart pumping.
    • A Batman Cold Open accentuates the character's skills rather than badassness. So we open to Batman breaking into a building to go through a file cabinet or maybe it starts with a character hacking.
    • The Teaser drops us straight into the plot, and does not have to involve action. A frequent start to a CSI show is someone coming across the body of the victim of the week.

Actor Allusion vs. Casting Gag vs. Celebrity Paradox vs. The Danza vs. Meta Casting

  • An Actor Allusion references another role the actor has played via plot or discussion. For instance, if Bob plays a taxi driver in one movie, another movie might have a different character, who is also played by Bob, hijack a taxi.
  • A Casting Gag references another role the actor has played or real-life circumstances simply via choice of actor rather than outright mention. For instance, Bob is cast as a taxi driver because he really is one or because he plays a famous character who is also a taxi driver.
  • A Celebrity Paradox references the actor themselves and is about the question of whether the actor and the character exist both at once (for example, the question of whether Leonard Nimoy exists in the Star Trek universe).
  • The Danza references the actor by sharing the same name. For instance, Bob plays a character also named Bob.
  • Meta Casting is an actor cast to play a character with a significantly similar personality or history to the actor themselves. For example, Bob is a taxi driver who likes iguanas and plays a taxi driver who likes iguanas but is not meant to be Bob.

Actor/Role Confusion vs. I Am Not Spock vs. Role Association

  • In Actor/Role Confusion, characters in-universe confuse an actor with a role they've played.
  • In I Am Not Spock, an actor dislikes being thought of as their most famous character, but can't avoid it. Can happen in-universe or in real life.
  • Role Association is primarily our Just for Fun page where we describe the plots of movies/other works with actors by deliberately calling actors in it by their other roles. It also describes some uses of the same gag being used in works.

Actually, I Am Him vs. Right in Front of Me

These tropes overlap frequently, but the focus of the tropes are different.
  • Actually, I Am Him is when one character is interested in finding or identifying another, who eventually reveals or confirms themself to be the character of interest. The less-informed character may or may not behave inappropriately due to their lack of knowledge. This is more about the identity of the second person.
  • Right in Front of Me occurs when a character specifically says something inappropriate or revealing in front of someone they shouldn't. Had they not been so unwise, the misbehaving character may or may not have cared about who the observer was. This is more about the behavior of the first person.

Actually Not a Vampire vs. Not Using the "Z" Word vs. Totally Not a Werewolf

  • Someone who is Actually Not a Vampire is just that; they're not a supernatural creature at all despite indications that they were. For example, "Bob is Actually Not a Vampire; he just has a sensitivity to sunlight caused by a rare disease."
  • In Not Using the "Z" Word, the creatures are exactly what the story makes them out to be. They're just called something else, or not given a name, within the work, because the characters prefer an in-universe term or have some kind of belief (or lack thereof) that stops them from using the word.
  • Someone who is Totally Not a Werewolf is a different kind of creature than the one they were implied to be. For example, "Bob is Totally Not a Werewolf; he's a warlock who shapeshifted into a wolf."

Adam Smith Hates Your Guts vs. Karl Marx Hates Your Guts vs. No Hero Discount

Adam Westing vs. As Himself vs. Autobiographical Role vs. Celebrity Star vs. Character as Himself vs. The Danza vs. Special Guest

  • Adam Westing: Bob the Actor makes a good living continually playing Flanderized versions of himself or his most popular character for laughs.
  • As Himself: Bob the Actor is playing himself as a (believable) main character, inserted into (believable) fictional circumstances.
  • Autobiographical Role: A non-actor is playing themselves in the biopic of their life story/events.
  • Celebrity Star: The Special Guest completely takes over the episode.
  • Character as Himself: A fictional character is credited "as Himself" for laughs or to hide a spoiler.
  • The Danza: Bob the Actor is playing a fictional character also named Bob, but it's not actually supposed to be Bob the Actor.
  • Special Guest: When a celebrity or famous figure cameos as themselves for a quick joke or shock.

Adaptation Decay vs. Bowdlerise vs. Cut-and-Paste Translation

  • Adaptation Decay happens when In-Universe new works based on previous ones feature changes that dilute the source material's content.
  • A Cut-and-Paste Translation is when entire scenes or a storyline are changed from the original source in a "cut and paste" manner.
  • Bowdlerise is about either, and means to censor potentially offensive content because of Media Watchdogs.

Adaptation Distillation vs. Pragmatic Adaptation vs. Woolseyism

  • A Pragmatic Adaptation is when outright and necessary changes are made to the source material.
  • Adaptation Distillation is when outright changes to the source material aren't made, but the complexity of the source is simplified/streamlined in a successful way.
  • A Woolseyism is when outright but unnecessary changes are made to the source material, but those changes are good in their own right, if not better than the original. Also, it applies to translations only, not to adaptations from one medium to another within the same language.

Adaptation Expansion vs. Overtook the Manga

  • Adaptation Expansion is when the source material already ended, or was just a one-shot story, but the adaptation continues after the intended ending with original stories.
  • Overtook the Manga is when the original source material and the adaptation are being produced at the same time, but the adaptation goes much faster and catches up, forcing the adaptation to use tricks like Filler, Padding, or just putting the series on hold.

Adaptation Explanation Extrication vs. Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole vs. Dub-Induced Plot Hole vs. Inconsistent Dub

  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication is when a plot point from the source material is kept in an adaptation, but the explanation for that plot point is removed, which can create an Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole is a Plot Hole caused by bad writing when details are changed or removed in an adaptation, but those changes cause contradictions with either unchanged details or with other changes, or can happen when the adaptation changed details with no problems originally, no bad writing, but later, the source material received more content like more episodes or books, and now those changes cause contradictions when adapting new material.
  • Dub-Induced Plot Hole is the same as above, but with a translation that changes stuff, not an adaptation.
  • Inconsistent Dub is when a poor translation can't decide and contradicts itself, details in a translation are changed, but those details keep zigzagging between different changes and/or the original version, this is not necessarily a plot hole, because most examples are just characters and stuff having different names in each episode, just mistakes by translators that don't cause contradictions in the story, but plot holes can happen and then it overlaps with Dub-Induced Plot Hole.

Adventure Towns vs. City of Adventure

An Aesop vs. Central Theme

  • An Aesop is a lesson briefly sent to a work's audience.
  • A Central Theme is a recurring topic that a work revolves around.

Affably Evil vs. Faux Affably Evil vs. Laughably Evil vs. Wicked Cultured

  • An Affably Evil villain has a genuinely pleasant personality and would make a great friend if he wasn't the adversary.
  • A Faux Affably Evil villain is nasty at the core but cultivates an Affably Evil facade to fool people.
  • A Laughably Evil villain isn't trying to be funny, but the audience likes to laugh at him anyway.
  • A Wicked Cultured villain is thoroughly evil but is also intellectual, urbane, and sophisticated.

Agent Peacock Vs. Real Men Wear Pink

  • Agent Peacock refers to a camp/effeminate male character who is badass at least in part because they are effeminate/camp.
  • Real Men Wear Pink refers to a manly character who has at least one feminine hobby.

Airborne Aircraft Carrier vs. The Battlestar vs. The Mothership

Akashic Records vs. Magical Database vs. Omniscient Database

  • The Akashic Records are a compendium of all knowledge that has ever existed ever. This is because the database is supernatural in nature and is usually a component of the universe rather than actually belonging to anyone.
  • A Magical Database isn't actually magical in nature; it's a normal database about magical matters. Still a valuable resource, given the weirdness of magic in many settings.
  • An Omniscient Database is also a normal database and relates to completely normal matters. What makes it 'omniscient' is that the writers apparently have no idea how much information a normal database contains and wrote this one as having a frankly-ridiculous extent of knowledge.

The Alcatraz vs. Cardboard Prison vs. "Inescapable" Prison Easily Escaped vs. Gilded Cage vs. Implicit Prison vs. Luxury Prison Suite vs. Might as Well Not Be in Prison at All vs. Play-Along Prisoner

  • The Alcatraz is a prison known for extremely high security and for being nigh-impossible to break out of; to do so would take exceptional effort and luck.
  • A Cardboard Prison is the polar opposite of The Alcatraz; it is lightly guarded and/or poorly designed and thus incredibly easy to break out of.
  • An "Inescapable" Prison Easily Escaped is a prison from which the heroes can escape easily and quickly, despite it being considered impossible by other inmates.
  • A Gilded Cage is when a character is being held prisoner in a place akin to a luxurious vacation spot, where the prisoner's needs are lavishly taken care of.
  • An Implicit Prison is a place that wasn't designed to be a prison but functions as one, perhaps by government order or because it is surrounded by an armed force.
  • A Luxury Prison Suite is a standard prison where the prisoner is able to secure extensive privileges by bribing or doing favors for the guards and/or the prison management.
  • Might as Well Not Be in Prison at All is when someone is imprisoned but is able to execute schemes and maneuvers with little hindrance from imprisonment.
  • A Play-Along Prisoner could, at any point, escape from the prison, but is waiting for a particularly opportune moment, for whatever reason.

Alien Blood vs. Black Blood

  • Alien Blood is for characters whose blood is of a different color than red, which marks them as different from most other people.
  • Black Blood is when depictions of blood are changed to a different color as a form of censorship. In-Universe, the blood is still red.

Alien Fair Folk vs. Space Elves

  • In Alien Fair Folk, supernatural humanoid creatures from Earth's mythology, like fairies, demons or even the gods, are revealed to have been inspired by a species of alien in the work's universe.
  • In Space Elves, a species of alien simply has characteristics in common with elves, such as a more enlightened or nature-oriented philosophy, or an extremely long lifespan. They don't have to have traveled to Earth and inspired myths.

Alien Non-Interference Clause vs. Obstructive Code of Conduct

All for Nothing vs. "Shaggy Dog" Story

  • All for Nothing is more direct: someone does that particular that prevents the characters from ever getting their conclusion. For example, after three seasons of investigation, Alice fails to bring Bob to justice because a higher-up in the department bars her from having anything to do with the case ever again.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story is when a random, indirect occurrence gets in the way of the conclusion. For example, after three seasons of investigation, Alice fails to bring Bob to justice because the day she goes to arrest him he gets run over by a truck.

All Girls Want Bad Boys vs. Evil Is Sexy vs. Monster Fangirl

  • In All Girls Want Bad Boys, the work demonstrates a pattern where "bad" young men, most often rude or rebellious rather than outright villains (though it's been done with them), are attractive to young women. This is usually depicted as common, but unwise.
  • In Evil Is Sexy, an evil character is designed to be attractive to the audience; unlike the other two tropes, it doesn't necessarily involve sexual or romantic ties between the villain and other characters in-universe.
  • A Monster Fangirl is a character with an attraction to truly evil characters that is depicted as freakish or evil in itself; she will be willing to hurt people or commit other crimes out of her love for the villain.

All Jews Are Cheapskates vs. Greedy Jew

  • All Jews Are Cheapskates is a more benign stereotype, often Played for Laughs, about Jewish people liking to save their money and (like other Miser Advisor characters) sometimes doing silly or counterproductive things to do so. The characters described this way are not necessarily bad, just cheap.
  • Greedy Jew is a much more serious and offensive trope portraying Jewish people as acquisitive and power-hungry, to the point of being criminal, or downright evil.

All Just a Dream vs. Dream Episode

  • With All Just a Dream, the story appears to be happening in in-universe real life, but it turns out to be a dream.
  • A Dream Episode is an episode that's explicitly about a dream or several. In short, if you see the character fall asleep and start dreaming, it's a Dream Episode, not All Just a Dream.

All Men Are Perverts vs. I'm a Man; I Can't Help It

  • All Men Are Perverts is a pattern; it refers to a work showing men in general as preoccupied with sex.
  • I'm a Man; I Can't Help It is a Stock Phrase; it's when a specific man excuses/explains his perverted behavior as being just because he's a man. He believes the above trope; the setting doesn't necessarily have to use it.

All Myths Are True vs. Crossover Cosmology vs. Fantasy Kitchen Sink vs. The Legend of Chekhov vs. World of Weirdness

  • All Myths Are True means any myths in-universe are verbatim or slightly garbled accounts of actual past events (or, in the case of prophecies, future events).
  • Crossover Cosmology is about the Fridge Logic inherent when a setting is so chock full of different religions (which are all true) that their mutual exclusivity becomes problematic.
  • A Fantasy Kitchen Sink is a different matter; nearly every mythological idea or being from our world is real and lives in the story's universe — often with vastly different and contradictory origin myths. This can even include things that are more sci-fi than mythological (stuff like aliens, other dimensions, or super-science).
  • The Legend of Chekhov means if someone tells a fairy tale or legend in the beginning, it'll turn out to be true.
  • World of Weirdness goes one step further and dictates that basically everything within the realm of fiction itself is fair game, so you get things like Godzilla fighting Al Bundy over the keys to the DeLorean to get the Deathly Hallows from the trunk, all while Grey aliens watch with fiendish glee.

All There in the Manual vs. Read the Freaking Manual

  • All There in the Manual is when elements that can be important to understand the plot of the work aren't in the work itself, but are in the manual or other material like websites; sometimes the whole plot is in the manual. This often happens with vintage video games.
  • Read the Freaking Manual is when someone tells you to read the manual to properly use something, or parodying the idea of someone refusing to read the manual.

Allegedly Free Game vs. Bribing Your Way to Victory vs. Real Money Trade vs. Revenue-Enhancing Devices

  • An Allegedly Free Game is a free game that cannot be fully experienced without purchasing extra features, whether due to pricey DLC or unlockables or because necessary features are kept away from free users.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory is where, in any game (free or not), you can get additional but not necessary perks by paying for them.
  • Real Money Trade is where third parties and the players themselves buy or sell in-game items, currencies, etc. without the involvement and often against the wishes of the game's developers, but this can also be allowed and embraced by them.
  • Revenue-Enhancing Devices are "extras" you can buy separately from the core game, which may or may not be required to experience all the content or be competitive.

The Alliance vs. The Empire vs. The Federation vs. Fictional United Nations vs. La Résistance

  • The Federation is a group of strong nations that work together for their own mutual benefit; a powerful enemy usually isn't necessary.
  • The Empire is The Federation's Evil Counterpart: a conglomeration of nations in which one powerful nation has absorbed the others by force; said nation is usually led by a powerful demagogue.
  • La Résistance is a small group that tries to foment rebellion against The Empire or corruption in one nation.
  • The Alliance is the evolution of La Resistance: a group of small nations that join together for their own mutual benefit, usually to stand up against The Empire.
  • The Fictional United Nations is halfway between The Federation and The Alliance. It's where The Alliance has a formal governing body but, unlike The Federation, is not treated as a single state and usually does not have a military of its own. It can also contain both good guys and bad guys.

Alternate Continuity vs. Alternate History vs. Alternate Timeline vs. Continuity Reboot

Alternate Self Shipping vs. Screw Yourself.

  • Alternate Self Shipping describes a general tendency for a fandom romantically or sexually pairing a character with an alternate version of themself, including incarnations of the character that don't exist in the canon.
  • Screw Yourself refers to a romantic or sexual pairing between a character and an alternate version of themself in the work. This includes specific fan works as opposed to general fandom tendencies.

Alternate Universe vs. Another Dimension

  • An Alternate Universe is another universe that exists parallel to our own, in which some events happened differently.
  • Another Dimension is another realm that exists parallel to the the one in the story.

Aluminum Christmas Trees vs Reality Is Unrealistic vs Truth in Television

  • Aluminum Christmas Trees is when something mentioned in a fictional work is so goofy or ridiculous-sounding that people think it has to be made up. However, it really does exist or existed in Real Life.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: A trope has become so pervasive that people assume that it's the way something really happens in Real Life to the point that they expect Real Life to follow the trope.
  • Truth in Television: A trope accurately portrays the way something happens in Real Life, at least under certain circumstances or in certain situations.

Always a Bigger Fish vs. Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work vs Villainous Rescue

  • Always a Bigger Fish is more closely related to Deus ex Machina. The forces involved, while they have been obstacles to the protagonists in the past, are indiscriminate enough in their malice that they'll go after whatever is currently menacing the protagonists.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work is about a villain who shows up to Shoot the Dog or otherwise do something else that the heroes are averse to doing, emphasizing the evilness of the villains while keeping the good guys' hands clean.
  • Villainous Rescue is the Villain saving the Hero in a classical fashion; there's nothing evil about the act itself, just the oddity in who did it. What happens after is up for grabs.

Always Murder vs. Never Suicide

  • Always Murder means that the crime being dealt with by a crime or mystery series is always (apparent) murder; it can still apply if the dead body was actually a victim of an accident, or a suicide. It just means there's always a suspicious death present.
  • Never Suicide means that the Victim of the Week, even if they look like they've committed suicide, will always turn out to have actually been murdered.

Always Wanted to Say That vs. I Just Like Saying the Word

  • When a character Always Wanted to Say That, "that" is something like a stock phrase, a pun, or a quote from another work that perfectly fits the current situation. It's usually implied the character wanted not just to say the phrase, but to have the situation to say the phrase in.
  • In I Just Like Saying the Word, a specific word is repeated just because it's fun to say; this word can be new to the character, not have anything to do with the context, or be an entirely made-up word, so long as it's being repeated because of its sound.

Ambiguously Bi vs. Camp Straight

  • Someone who is Ambiguously Bi either shows signs that they're attracted to both men and women, but aren't confirmed to be attracted to either, or are explicitly attracted to one sex and show signs of being attracted to another. Stereotypes aren't considered a "sign".
  • A Camp Straight character shows stereotypes of being gay but is explicitly attracted to the opposite sex. If they also show signs of actual same-sex attraction, they're both Camp Straight and Ambiguously Bi, but being Camp Straight is not a sign of bisexuality.

Ambiguously Gay vs. But Not Too Gay vs. Get Back in the Closet vs. Have I Mentioned I Am Gay? vs. Hide Your Lesbians

  • Ambiguously Gay is when a character displays stereotypical mannerisms associated with homosexuality, but it is unclear if they are actually gay or not and no one will discuss it.
  • But Not Too Gay is when characters are gay and acknowledged as such but when it comes to their love lives, they will show very little affection toward their partners or none at all.
  • Get Back in the Closet is when gay affection and love scenes are shown but are given higher ratings than that of heterosexual affection/love scenes, no matter how tame they are in comparison.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Gay? is when characters are openly gay, but never get any sort of romance and their sexuality is basically an Informed Attribute.
  • Hide Your Lesbians is where characters can be seen as either gay or straight, and there usually is subtext suggesting the character may be gay but this will never ever be addressed.

Amnesia Danger vs. Amnesiac Liar vs. Criminal Amnesiac vs. Easy Amnesia vs. Forgot the Call vs. Identity Amnesia vs. Laser-Guided Amnesia

  • Amnesia Danger is when a character has amnesia and is in a situation which would be trivially easy to handle if he could remember how to deal with it, but is extremely dangerous because he can't.
  • Amnesiac Liar is when a character lies, then has amnesia and is told the lie and accepts it as the truth.
  • Criminal Amnesiac is when a character has amnesia and is convinced that he is on the antagonist's side.
  • Easy Amnesia is an amnesia that was easily induced, for the sake of the plot, and sometimes can be reversed just as easily with no lasting effects.
  • Forgot the Call is when a hero of an epic adventure gets amnesia and ends up living a mundane life for a while.
  • Identity Amnesia is when the character having amnesia thinks they are a totally different person and has significant changes in his personality.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia is conveniently specific amnesia in which a character forgets only what is necessary for the plot.

Amusing Alien vs. Funny Foreigner

  • An Amusing Alien is an otherworldly character (relative to the rest of the cast) who's funny by any number of means.
  • A Funny Foreigner is a character of the same race/species as the rest of the cast who entertains the audience with their ignorance and odd behavior.

Anachronic Order vs. Flashback B-Plot vs. Meanwhile, in the Future…

  • Anachronic Order: Events of the same story are presented in an order different from how they occurred in-story.
  • Meanwhile, in the Future…: Events of different stories occurring at different times are presented as if they occurred simultaneously.
  • Flashback B-Plot: A secondary story involving the same character(s) is told in flashbacks alongside the main story.

Anachronism Stew vs. Present-Day Past

  • Anachronism Stew: Something that doesn't match the intended time period, either appearing before it's supposed to be or way long past its prime without justification.
  • Present-Day Past: Objects and trends of the then-present time contemporary to a work's production appear in the past.

Ancient Conspiracy vs. Long Game

They both involve long-term planning, but...

Ancient Conspiracy vs. The Masquerade

And Some Other Stuff vs. Cow Tools vs. Noodle Implements vs. That Mysterious Thing

  • And Some Other Stuff: A list of ingredients or items has some elements go un-named (or blurred out), so that people can't try at home.
  • Cow Tools: Odd-looking items in the background. Their purpose and function is unimportant, but they create atmosphere and add verisimilitude to the scene.
  • Noodle Implements: A character claims that they know how to use a set of items for a specific purpose. The items are perfectly well-known, but you have no idea how they used them to accomplish what they state. And the story doesn't show you.
  • That Mysterious Thing: Dialogue trope. Characters refer to an item in cryptic terms, to stop the audience knowing what it is too quickly.

…And That Little Girl Was Me vs. I Have This Friend

  • …And That Little Girl Was Me: Let me tell you a story about something that happened in the past to someone who I'm going to pretend wasn't me.
  • I Have This Friend: Let me ask you for advice/help with a problem currently being had by someone who I'm going to pretend isn't me.

…And That Little Girl Was Me vs. Narrator All Along

  • …And That Little Girl Was Me: The story begins with a character telling a story to one of several other characters then reveals that he has been part of the story.
  • Narrator All Along: The Narrator appears to be nothing but a typical omniscient disincarnated voice then reveals to be one of the protagonist.

And This Is for... vs. Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking vs. Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick

Animal Lover vs. Friend to All Living Things

  • An Animal Lover is simply someone who loves all or most animals. They may attract them too, but not necessarily.
  • While a Friend to All Living Things is usually an Animal Lover as well, they don't strictly have to be. All that's required to be a Friend to All Living Things is that the animals are drawn to the character, not necessarily the other way round. In addition, a Friend to All Living Things is typically wise, sweet, and/or innocent, and while this is a popular way to characterise Animal Lovers too, the Animal Lover is more likely to break this convention than the Friend to All Living Things.

Anthropic Principle vs. Theory of Narrative Causality

  • Anthropic Principle is that in order for the plot to work, some things in the story's universe must be taken as read. For instance, for Spider-Man to work, being bitten by a radioactive spider must be capable of inducing superpowers.
  • Theory of Narrative Causality is that things happen in the plot because the plot 'says they must' - that is, they make the plot work better. For instance, if the hero leaves on an adventure that has claimed his older siblings, chances have it the quest would just claim him as well but instead the Youngest Child Wins.

Anti-Armor vs. Armor-Piercing Attack

  • An Anti-Armor attack either deals extra damage against armored enemies or removes their armor.
  • An Armor-Piercing Attack deals the same damage to all enemies, regardless of armor. It ignores defense.

Anti-Magic vs. Counterspell vs. No-Sell vs. Power Nullifier

  • Anti-Magic is an ability or power to cancel/negate the powers of others.
  • Counterspell is a specific spell that stops another spell while it's being cast.
  • Power Nullifier is a tool, such as handcuffs or a room, that can negate the powers of the one wearing it.
  • No-Sell is when someone is completely immune to a power or ability and thus can ignore it. The power works fine otherwise.

Anti-Magical Faction vs. Does Not Like Magic vs. Magic is Evil

  • An Anti-Magical Faction actively opposes magic's existence in the world (or at least it being used by unapproved people).
  • Someone who Does Not Like Magic has a personal dislike of magic, but isn't necessarily interested in hunting wizards; he's more likely to just not work with magic.
  • Magic is Evil is the belief that all magic is evil. It can involve either someone believing it (an Anti-Magical Faction does usually believe this) or the work actually depicting only evil magic.

Anyone Can Die vs. Characters Dropping Like Flies vs. Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies vs. Total Party Kill

  • Anyone Can Die means that no one in the cast is safe from dying, if/when called for by the plot.
  • Characters Dropping Like Flies means that a large number of named characters (not necessarily the main characters) will die.
  • Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies: Same as above, but where the entire main cast dies in a tragic accident, all at the same time. Often (but not always) indicates that the cast/party were killed primarily to put a conclusive end to the story (as in the Trope Namer, where a gamemaster does it to spite players who were were going Off the Rails).
  • Total Party Kill: Same as above, except that the main characters are directly responsible for their own death.

Anything That Moves vs. Extreme Omnisexual

  • Anything That Moves: a character has very low or broad standards within their sexual orientation.
    For example, Bob doesn't care if you are attractive, old, young or crazy as long as you're a woman who will have sex with him.
  • Extreme Omnisexual: a character has an all-inclusive sexual orientation, but can have standards.
    For example, Bob doesn't care if you're a man, woman, both, alien or robot, as long as you're attractive.

Apparently Human Merfolk vs. Fish People vs. Our Mermaids Are Different vs. Unscaled Merfolk:

  • Apparently Human Merfolk are beings like Aquaman: Basically look human, but are capable of breathing and living underwater.
  • Fish People are the most monstrous kind - they look like an inhuman creature with fishy features, but they walk upright and have humanlike shape.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different covers the variety of forms the overarching species of 'mermaid' can cover. Mostly, this refers to the half-fish, half-human variety, though not exclusively.
  • Unscaled Merfolk are part-aquatic creature and part-human, but the creature is a species without scales. This allows for quite a variety, such as mollusks, crustaceans and cephalopods.

Appliance Defenestration vs. Defenestrate and Berate

Applied Phlebotinum vs. Green Rocks vs. Single Phlebotinum Limit vs. Magnetic Plot Device vs. Mineral MacGuffin vs. Minovsky Physics vs. Unobtainium

Applied Phlebotinum vs. MacGuffin vs. Plot Device:

  • Applied Phlebotinum is not actually important to the plot itself, but it causes plot-relevant things to work .
  • MacGuffin is an item that is central to the plot and causes plot events to happen due to its existence, but is not specific in either its nature or its function .
  • Plot Device is an item that is central to the plot and causes plot events to happen due to its existence, and has to matter in specifically what it is and/or specifically what it does.

"Arabian Nights" Days vs. Qurac vs. Shifting Sand Land

Arbitrary Skepticism vs. Flat-Earth Atheist vs. Nay-Theist

  • Arbitrary Skepticism is when a character doesn't believe in something, despite already witnessing something similar or even more unlikely, sometimes, the character is something supernatural.
  • A Flat-Earth Atheist insists that gods or supernatural forces don't exist despite living in a universe where they indisputably do.
  • A Nay-Theist believes in gods but refuses to accept that they deserve worship or obedience.

Arson, Murder, and Lifesaving vs. Chew-Out Fake-Out

  • Arson, Murder, and Lifesaving is when a character is not punished for his various misdeeds because he ended up doing something very heroic.
  • Chew-Out Fake-Out is when a character is not punished because his superior thinks his actions were hilarious.

Artifact of Death vs. Artifact of Doom

Artistic License – Engineering vs. Not Drawn to Scale

Ascended Extra vs. Breakout Character vs. Ensemble Dark Horse

  • Ascended Extra is where a character of relatively minor consequence is given more lines, maybe even a name and a Day in the Limelight.
  • An Ensemble Dark Horse is when a minor character is unexpectedly popular, sometimes moreso than the rest of the cast.
  • Breakout Character is when the writers notice the existence of an Ensemble Dark Horse and have said character become more important. This doesn't happen to every Ensemble Dark Horse, however: sometimes the writers don't notice or care about his/her existence. Also, Breakout Character often implies that the character comes to dominate the show, rather than just become as important as other main characters.

Ascended Fanboy vs. Audience Surrogate vs. Escapist Character vs. The Everyman vs. This Loser Is You vs. Unfazed Everyman vs. Promoted Fanboy

Ascended Fanon vs. Audience-Alienating Era vs. Canon vs. Canon Discontinuity vs. Fanon vs. Fanon Discontinuity vs. Retcon vs. Running the Asylum vs. Word of Dante vs. Word Of God vs. Word of Saint Paul

  • Ascended Fanon: Material that was once purely fanon but has been accepted by the work's creators and integrated into the canon story.
  • Audience-Alienating Era: Certain events in a narrative that are considered an embarrassment or a low point by all involved, and are generally ignored, except for the occasional Mythology Gag or "What were we thinking" reference.
  • Canon: Material that is accepted as being in a work's continuity by both its creators and the fanbase.
  • Canon Discontinuity: Older canon material that a work's current canon disavows.
  • Fanon: Material that didn't appear in a work but is accepted as being in continuity by the fanbase.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: Canon material that is not accepted by the fanbase and is generally ignored by fanon.
  • Retcon: Certain events in a narrative are re-presented so that things happened differently than originally portrayed.
  • Running the Asylum: Ascended Fanon resulting from fans becoming involved with creating a work.
  • Word of Dante: Fanon material that is widely, if not universally, accepted as being part of a work's canon.
  • Word Of God: Material that the work's creators say happened but didn't actually appear in the work.
  • Word of Saint Paul: Material that doesn't appear in a work but is stated to have occurred by people close to the creators, such as family or co-workers.

Ascended Meme vs. Meme Acknowledgment

Asian and Nerdy vs. Bollywood Nerd

Both are about intelligent and nerdy characters of Asian descent.

Asshole Victim vs. Kick the Son of a Bitch vs. Pay Evil unto Evil

  • Asshole Victim: A character has treated other characters terribly. Eventually something nasty happens to them, and we don't feel sorry.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: The villain indulges in a blatant/gratuitous act of villainy. However, it doesn't count as Kick the Dog and we don't feel sorry, because the victim in question was actually a jerkass (or worse) and was overdue some comeuppance anyway.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Character decides that villains don't deserve mercy, and that the best way to stop them is to do terrible things back to them.

Asshole Victim vs. Who Murdered the Asshole

  • Asshole Victim is a general trope about terrible people being murdered. The identity of the perpetrator doesn't have to be hidden from other characters or the audience.
  • Who Murdered the Asshole is a subtrope specific to murder mysteries: the detective has a lot of work ahead of them because there are so many people who wanted the asshole dead. Which one of them did kill him will be the big reveal.

Ass Pull vs. Deus ex Machina vs. Diabolus ex Machina

  • An Ass Pull is a plot twist that's so poorly set up, it feels like the writer just pulled something out of their ass.
  • A Deus ex Machina is a resolution to a seemingly impossible situation that comes out of nowhere; it can still be set up with Chekhov's Gun and feel forced if too little attention is given to the set up.
  • Diabolus ex Machina is a Deus ex Machina that's there to make things worse.

Astonishingly Appropriate Interruption vs. One Dialogue, Two Conversations vs. One Scene, Two Monologues vs. Two Scenes, One Dialogue

  • In Astonishingly Appropriate Interruption, a character is talking to another, but suddenly sees something which causes him or her to have a sudden and loud change of subject... which sounds like a plausible continuation of what they were talking about. Another character can interrupt them and continue the line, too.
  • In One Dialogue, Two Conversations, two characters are discussing completely different things, but speak so vaguely that both of them think they're talking about the same subject. Often one of the subjects is sex-related.
  • In One Scene, Two Monologues, two characters or more talk to each other, but no one listens to what the others are saying. Each of them is having a monologue, but acting as though they were addressing the others.
  • Two Scenes, One Dialogue involves two groups of people receiving the same information. The lines of dialogue carry across the two scenes, sometimes to the point of the two scenes finishing each other's sentences.

Asymmetric Dilemma vs. Lopsided Dichotomy

  • In an Asymmetric Dilemma, the problem is both something trivial and something major. The humor comes from treating these problems of wildly differing importance as though they were on the same level.
  • In a Lopsided Dichotomy, the situation is either something absurd or something mundane. The humor is in the sarcastic implication that "of course it's the mundane one" — though it does occasionally turn out to be the absurd one.

A-Team Firing vs. Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy

Atomic F-Bomb vs. Cluster F-Bomb vs. Precision F-Strike

  • An Atomic F-Bomb is a very loud and sudden curse that shows extreme anger and/or frustration.
  • A Cluster F-Bomb is any work that's a general-purpose hotbed of foul language, or when a character has one or more pieces of dialogue that includes a lot of cursing.
  • A Precision F-Strike is a strategically placed and/or timed curse that adds extra emotional impact to a piece of dialogue, especially when such language is out of the ordinary.

Atrocious Alias vs. Lazy Alias

  • Atrocious Alias is a alias that is supposed to sound cool or impressive, but is instead embarassing or silly
  • A Lazy Alias is a name for a Secret Identity that is supposed be sneaky and conceal the person's identity, but fails to do so by somehow giving away the fact that the name is fake.

Attack! Attack! Attack! vs. I Will Fight Some More Forever vs. Suicidal Overconfidence

Attack Hello vs. *Click* Hello vs. "Hey, You!" Haymaker vs. *Twang* Hello

  • Attack Hello: A character opens an interaction with an attack. This gives an idea of the character/s in question.
  • *Click* Hello: A character enters the scene with a Dramatic Gun Cock, which severely heightens drama and makes the audience worried that someone is about to die.
  • "Hey, You!" Haymaker: A character deliberately gets someone else's attention - a tap on the shoulder is the classic. This makes them open to being attacked quickly afterward.
  • *Twang* Hello: An arrow/knife/shuriken etc. flies through the air and embeds itself in the scenery/a character. This tells the characters - and audience - that there is someone in the surroundings that is armed and can see them. This heightens drama, but is less claustrophobic than a *Click* Hello and gives away the attacker's position less.

Attack Hello vs Dynamic Entry

  • Attack Hello: A character greets another by attacking them. This may be perfectly straightforward, but still leaves an impression - what it really does is tell you about the character/s.
  • Dynamic Entry: A character enters the scene with some kind of dynamic, and usually quick, action. This can involve an attack, but the point is the excitement.

Attack of the Killer Whatever vs. Everything Trying to Kill You

  • In Attack of the Killer Whatever, the plot revolves around one object or animal not normally thought of as dangerous becoming deadly in some way, for example mutated rats, giant frogs or possessed dolls. Usually a horror genre trope, although the level of actual horror may vary.
  • In Everything Trying to Kill You, multiple things are trying to kill you, or at least the assembly of pixels you're controlling, as this trope is primarily found in Video Games, and not necessarily horror games at that. It's when the player character can be damaged by seemingly everything and/or really weird and random ideas were used to create enemies and obstacles. The plot may well revolve around something else entirely, but everything the player character runs into is a Killer Whatever.

Attempted Rape vs. Near-Rape Experience

  • An Attempted Rape is when a rapist attempts to rape someone but is unwillingly interrupted.
  • A Near-Rape Experience is when someone considers raping someone else but eventually refrain to do it on their own volition.

Audience-Coloring Adaptation vs. Lost in Imitation

Author Avatar vs. Descended Creator

  • An Author Avatar is a character who is explicitly based on the author. They may or may not have the same name and appearance, and may or may not have Author Powers, but there's no mistaking them for a fully fictional character.
  • A Descended Creator is when an author (or other member of the creative team, if applicable) also takes a role as an actor within a work.

Author Catchphrase vs. Catchphrase

  • An Author Catchphrase is a quote or description reused across different characters in different works, where the only common aspect is the author/actor/creator of those works.
  • A Catchphrase is a quote or description reused by the same character in a single work or series.

Author Filibuster vs. Author Tract vs. Writer on Board vs. Character Filibuster

  • Writer on Board is the most general term for when an author has something that doesn't make sense happening for their own purposes (usually an expression of political views).
  • Author Filibuster takes this one step further by actually stopping the plot dead in its tracks just to preach this particular point.
  • Character Filibuster is an Author Filibuster put in a character's mouth rather than prose.
  • Author Tract refers to a work whose entire purpose is to promote the author's viewpoint.

Averted Trope vs. Lampshade Hanging Vs. Justified Trope vs. Subverted Trope vs. Double Subversion vs. Zig-Zagging Trope vs. Inverted Trope

  • An Averted Trope is when no comment is made; the characters simply do not use, approach or address it. The trope only exists in the mind of the individual viewer.
  • Lampshade Hanging is when a work points out the use of a trope, but still uses it straight.
  • A Justified Trope is one where the trope occurs, but there is an in-universe reason for it.
  • A Subverted Trope is when it appears as if a trope is going to be used, but something else happens instead.
  • Double Subversion happens when a subverted trope actually ends up being used.
  • A Zig-Zagging Trope is when a trope gets subverted, then double subverted, then re-subverted; the process can possibly repeat itself.
  • An Inverted Trope is when the exact opposite of a trope is used. Sometimes lampshaded, sometimes not.

Author Appeal vs. Fanservice vs. Pandering to the Base

  • Author Appeal is designed to satisfy a particular interest the author has; often a fetish, but not always.
  • With Fanservice, the intention is to please the audience.
  • Pandering to the Base is when the fans are intentionally given non-sexual treats.

Awesome, but Impractical vs. Blessed with Suck vs. Cool, but Inefficient vs. Difficult, but Awesome vs. Too Awesome to Use vs. Useless Useful Spell

  • Awesome, but Impractical: Something that really is superior, but has an extra cost, side effect or drawback that limits its long-term usefulness.
  • Blessed with Suck: Something that's supposed to be superior but has drawbacks that outweight the advantages.
  • Cool, but Inefficient: Something appears advanced and exotic but isn't superior to the mundane alternative.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: Something is superior but only in skilled hands.
  • Too Awesome to Use: Something that is both superior and useful, but its rarity strongly encourages you to save it for later so you end up never using it.
  • Useless Useful Spell: Something only works when you don't need it, regardless of any value.

Ax-Crazy vs. Blood Knight vs. Psycho for Hire

  • An Ax-Crazy character is violently unstable, and dangerous to anyone they come by.
  • A Blood Knight greatly enjoys fighting, and some of them greatly enjoy the violence part.
  • A Psycho for Hire is someone that makes a career out of something that involves hurting people, largely so they can get to hurt people. Often overlaps with Ax-Crazy, with the former leading the character to become the latter.


Back for the Dead vs. Bus Crash vs. Character Outlives Actor vs. Dropped a Bridge on Him vs. Actor Leaves, Character Dies vs. Put on a Bus vs. Put on a Bus to Hell vs. Written-In Absence

  • Being Put on a Bus is when a character leaves the show but has plenty of opportunity for a return; it is just another bus ride back into town.
  • Being Put on a Bus to Hell is where being Put on a Bus was done in a particularly mean-spirited manner for the character.
  • A Bus Crash happens after a long absence, the character is killed offscreen.
  • Character Outlives Actor happens when the actor playing a character dies (usually after being Put on a Bus), but the character is not killed off- he is alive, just never shown on screen anymore.
  • Back for the Dead takes place when a character who had been Put on a Bus returns to the show and is then killed off.
  • Actor Leaves, Character Dies is when the actor portraying the character decides to leave and in their final/farewell episode the character is killed, in theory preventing a return appearance.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him is when a character is killed off in a particularly mean-spirited manner.
  • Written-In Absence is a casual remark saying that certain characters are not going to be around for this adventure, just to keep the party smaller.

Back Stab vs In the Back

  • Back Stab refers to the Video Game mechanic of doing extra damage when taking the victim by surprise.
  • In the Back is the dramatic usage of a sneak attack.

Bad Ass Back vs. Offhand Backhand

  • A Bad Ass Back belongs to anyone who can make a successful attack without looking, and can be done in premeditated combat.
  • An Offhand Backhand happens when the person who gets backhanded had thought that the person who backhanded him didn't know he was there.

Badass Bookworm vs. Genius Bruiser

  • A Badass Bookworm is someone who acts and looks like a bookworm, egghead, geek/nerd, intellectual, etc. at first but reveals combat skills when pushed.
  • A Genius Bruiser is someone who you would think of as a brute, muscle, warrior etc. first and only reveals the capacity for cunning and intelligence afterwards.

Bad Boss vs. Mean Boss

  • A Bad Boss is a Villain Trope for an employer who is willing to physically abuse or even kill his employees.
  • A Mean Boss is a boss who is mean, strict, and demanding, but not outside Real Life standards.

Badass Bystander vs. Heroic Bystander

  • A Badass Bystander is a badass who happens to be there when bad things happen and decides to intervene.
  • A Heroic Bystander is a regular schmoe who doesn't have the power to deal with a bad situation, but puts himself in danger anyway, inspiring others.

Badass Longcoat vs. Conspicuous Trenchcoat vs. Trenchcoat Brigade

  • Badass Longcoat is about the article of clothing (including trench coats, dusters, greatcoats, Inverness capes, and other knee-length-or-longer coats), worn unbuttoned to make its wearer look cool. The way these coats flare and billow around the wearer is an essential part of the trope.
  • Conspicuous Trenchcoat is about the article of clothing, worn buttoned to make its wearer blend in (though it often has the opposite effect, or it logically should).
  • Trenchcoat Brigade is about a stock character. Wearing a trench coat is one of their defining traits, but hardly the most important.

The Bad Guy Wins vs. Downer Ending vs. "Shaggy Dog" Story vs. Shoot the Shaggy Dog

Bad Habits vs. Sinister Minister

  • Bad Habits is about a morally dubious character, usually a villain, posing as clergy.
  • A Sinister Minister is a villainous character who is genuinely an ordained or appointed clergy member.

Bad People Abuse Animals vs. Cruella to Animals

  • When Bad People Abuse Animals, abuse of animals is a sign that a character is generally bad; it may just be one of many such signs and not a major trait.
  • Cruella to Animals is a subtrope where bad people take unusual pleasure in hunting, eating meat, wearing fur or otherwise exploiting animals, to the point where their hatred/pursuit of animals or a specific animal is actually a focus of their character or scheme.

Bait-and-Switch Gunshot vs. Staged Shooting

  • Bait-and-Switch Gunshot: A gunshot goes off, but the person who gets shot isn't who the audience was led to believe.
  • Staged Shooting: A character is apparently shot or executed, but the entire shooting was staged.

Bara vs. Yaoi

  • Both are stories about gay male relationships.
    • Yaoi is usually written by women for women; characters tend to be bishounen and romantic connections are emphasized. Sexual content, when present, tends to not be all that explicit.
    • Bara is usually written for gay men and (usually) by gay men; characters tend to fit the Manly Gay mold, and sexual content is more frequent and more explicit.

Bare-Fisted Monk vs. Boxing Battler vs. Good Old Fisticuffs

  • Bare-Fisted Monk is when a character is really, really good at barehand fighting and can take on and defeat armed melee fighters.
  • Boxing Battler is about the application of professional boxing in a combat situation.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs is when someone with no martial arts or fighting training beats the crap out of skilled opponent(s) just by throwing's essentially a bar brawler taking on and beating an MMA fighter.

Base-Breaking Character vs. Broken Base

Bat Deduction vs. Conviction by Contradiction vs. Conviction by Counterfactual Clue vs. "Eureka!" Moment

  • Bat Deduction: Conclusions about what happened based on insufficient evidence are treated as justified.
  • Conviction by Contradiction: Conclusion that someone is guilty based on a flaw in their alibi is treated as justified.
  • Conviction by Counterfactual Clue: Conclusion that someone is guilty based on circumstantial evidence from false premises is treated as justified.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Conclusions about what happened are inspired by completely unrelated events.

Bat Deduction vs. Entertainingly Wrong vs. Right for the Wrong Reasons vs. The Cloudcuckoolander Was Right

  • Bat Deduction: The premises are true, and the conclusion is correct, but the logic connecting the two is completely absurd.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: The conclusion follows from the premises, but the premises are wrong, or incomplete, and as a result, so is the conclusion.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: The conclusion is true, and follows from the premises, but the premises are wrong, or irrelevant; the conclusion happens to be true by coincidence.
  • The Cloudcuckoolander Was Right: The premise and/or conclusion sound completely crazy. No one with a sane mind would believe them. But as it goes, they are still correct.

Batman Gambit vs. Gambit Pileup vs. Xanatos Gambit vs. Gambit Roulette vs. Xanatos Speed Chess

Batman Gambit vs. Cloning Gambit vs. Fake Twin Gambit vs. Genghis Gambit vs. Lysistrata Gambit vs. Memory Gambit vs. Party Scheduling Gambit vs. Poison and Cure Gambit vs. The Uriah Gambit vs. Wounded Gazelle Gambit vs. Xanatos Gambit vs. Zero-Approval Gambit

  • A Batman Gambit is a plan designed to predict the opponent's moves based on the opponent's flaws.
  • A Cloning Gambit is a scheme wherein a disposable clone is used to believably fake the mastermind's death.
  • A Fake Twin Gambit is when a character pretends to be his/her own, nonexistent identical twin, for whatever reason.
  • A Genghis Gambit is a subtrope of Zero-Approval Gambit in which someone seeking to unite a group of enemies creates a common enemy for all the factions to fight against.
  • A Lysistrata Gambit is when a woman threatens to withhold sex from a man (usually her husband) unless he does what she wants him to do.
  • A Memory Gambit is a plan which calls for a character to sacrifice his/her memories, with a specific trigger to get them back when it's convenient or advantageous to do so.
  • A Party Scheduling Gambit is when Alice tries to sabotage Bob's party by throwing a bigger party at the same time.
  • A Poison and Cure Gambit is when a villain releases a poison and then tries to sell the antidote.
  • The Uriah Gambit is a plan for a character to get rid of an inconvenient or adversarial underling by giving him an assignment that's sure to get him killed.
  • A Wounded Gazelle Gambit is when character A hurts him/herself, then frames character B for the act to get sympathy from character C.
  • A Xanatos Gambit is a plan that is designed to pay off for the planner regardless of whether it "succeeds" or "fails".
  • A Zero-Approval Gambit is a plan in which a character sacrifices his reputation/integrity/honor in order to achieve a long-term goal.

The Battle Didn't Count vs. Heads I Win, Tails You Lose vs. Hopeless Boss Fight vs. I Let You Win

Beast Man vs. Funny Animal

  • If you're really curious, or are still confused, refer to their analysis pages for more.
    • Beast Man: Zoomorphism, aka "Take a human and give them cat ears and a tail".
    • Funny Animal: Anthropomorphism, aka "Take an animal and give them opposable thumbs and bipedalism".

Beautiful All Along vs. I Just Want to Be Beautiful vs. The Makeover vs. She Cleans Up Nicely vs. She Is All Grown Up

  • Beautiful All Along refers to when a character previously thought to be homely is suddenly shown in such a light as to make it apparent that she is actually quite attractive.
  • I Just Want to Be Beautiful: A character wants to be beautiful but often doesn't believe they are.
  • The Makeover: A character thought to be homely is made beautiful by a change of wardrobe, haircut, and makeup.
  • With She Cleans Up Nicely, it is not necessary that the character be thought of as homely; it simply refers to when a character who is usually depicted in a normal fashion is suddenly made to appear as glamorous as possible.
  • She Is All Grown Up occurs when a child character returns after an absence and, thanks to growing up, has become handsome/beautiful in the eyes of those who knew him/her back in the day.

Be Careful What You Wish For vs. Wanting Is Better Than Having

  • Be Careful What You Wish For: A character wants something, and has it granted by a wish. Unforseen consequences cause him to later regret making the wish.
  • Wanting Is Better Than Having: A character wants something and eventually achieves it. Disappointment sets in when reality fails to live up to the expectations.

Become a Real Boy vs. Pinocchio Syndrome

  • Become a Real Boy: Character wants to become more human, to understand what that means without actually giving up any of their gifts. Usually achieved through character building event or quest.
  • Pinocchio Syndrome: Character wants to become fully human, even (or occasionally especially) if it means giving up all their special abilities. I Just Want to Be Normal for non- or partial-humans. Usually achieved via Applied Phlebotinum or other instant change devices.

Beige Prose vs. Terse Talker

  • Beige Prose is narration that uses simple sentences.
  • Terse Talker is when character dialogue uses very short sentences.

Belligerent Sexual Tension vs. Destructive Romance vs. The Masochism Tango

  • Two people are in a romantic relationship, but it has some negative aspect to it:

Bellisario's Maxim vs. MST3K Mantra

  • Both are about a certain level of forgiveness from the fans when watching a compelling story.
    • The MST3K Mantra is a caution against turning something into Serious Business. It is about the simple enjoyment of any work of fiction.
    • Bellisario's Maxim is from a more technical standpoint, it is assuming that a group of 10 writers can't squeeze in enough research to placate the millions of critical viewers. Also, they can't be expected to exorcise every single Plot Hole from a story (especially on a weekly basis).

Beneath the Mask vs. A Darker Me vs. G.I.F.T vs. Hidden Depths vs. What You Are in the Dark

  • These are psychological-personality oriented tropes that explain why first impressions can be misleading, and suggest situations where the audience's perception of a character might change. Tie in with Index with a Heart of Gold and More than Meets the Eye tropes.
  • Beneath the Mask states that people often hide how they really are and how they really feel about things because they are scared of what others might think of them or what punishment they could receive. Both power and anonymity remove said fears and show how a person really is. This trope also states that this hidden self is sometimes hidden even from ourselves. The hidden qualities might be anything, good, bad, or subjectively ugly, that the character is afraid to show.
  • A Darker Me is a subtrope of Beneath the Mask where the hidden self isn't radically different, only Darker and Edgier and/or less inhibited.
  • G.I.F.T is a theory that tries to explain the antisocial behaviour of people on the Internet. This trope states that anonymity corrupts people that are otherwise normally nice, making them act like jerks, as opposed to Beneath the Mask that states that anonymity doesn't corrupt but only reveals what was already there.
  • Hidden Depths: This trope is about hidden skills and hidden backstory rather than about personality, though it may well result in the audience's perception of the character changing.
  • What You Are in the Dark: This is similar to Beneath the Mask, but generally refers to a specific incident where a character shows their true colors when nobody is around to see it.

Better by a Different Name vs. Follow the Leader vs. Recycled In SPACE

  • Follow the Leader attempts to cash in on a popular work by using a similar premise and appealing to the same audience, but doesn't copy the work directly.
  • Better by a Different Name does copy the work directly, featuring similar characters and a very similar plot.
  • Recycled In SPACE copies the premise and characters, but puts a spin on it by adding a gimmick of some sort.

Better Than Canon vs. Fix Fic

  • Better Than Canon is when fanon is perceived to be better than canon, and start ignoring and rewriting the latter.
  • A Fix Fic is an attempt by an author to fix perceived shortcomings in previous works. These may be fanfics, but they can also be canonical.

Beyond the Impossible vs. Serial Escalation

  • Serial Escalation is when events within a work keep getting bigger in scale and stakes as it goes on.
  • Beyond the Impossible is to literally do the impossible or see the invisible, i.e., going up to eleven where it's impossible to go over the number ten in the first place.

BFG vs. Hand Cannon

  • A BFG is a particularly large and unwieldy gun.
  • A Hand Cannon is a very large pistol, but not to BFG levels.

Big Bad Duumvirate vs. Big Bad Ensemble

Big, Bulky Bomb vs. Cartoon Bomb vs. Incredibly Obvious Bomb

  • A Big, Bulky Bomb is just that; an explosive device of large dimensions.
  • A Cartoon Bomb is a bomb that looks like the ones in classic cartoons: a round black one, sometimes with "Bomb" or "Boom" written on it.
  • An Incredibly Obvious Bomb is any bomb that is not well-hidden or disguised. Bulkiness and cartooniness can make a bomb Incredibly Obvious, but not all Incredibly Obvious Bombs are also either of the above.

Big Damn Heroes vs. The Cavalry

Big Good vs Greater-Scope Paragon vs Supporting Leader

The Big List of Booboos and Blunders vs. Rouge Angles of Satin

  • The Big List of Booboos and Blunders is about avoiding general grammar gaffes and misusing words that are commonly confused with each other; many examples on this page are related to each other etymologically and/or seen in the same context, so people have trouble remembering which to use.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin is about misspelling a word so badly it turns into a non-word or a word that has nothing to do with the word the writer intended. There is some overlap, but while confusing "affect" with "effect" lands on the former list, spelling "rogue" as "rouge" would land on the latter.

Bit Part Bad Guys vs. Mooks

Both of these are about small-time villains.

Bittersweet Ending vs. Earn Your Happy Ending vs. Pyrrhic Victory

  • A Bittersweet Ending is when the story's resolution is in the hero or heroes' favor, but at great cost — in other words, a happy ending with little or no actual happiness to it.
  • A Pyrrhic Victory is a battle with a Bittersweet Ending; it can occur at any point in a story.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending is when the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism is very carefully balanced — specifically, when a happy (or at least idealistic) ending is reached despite a significant portion of the story being on the cynical end.
    Note that these can and often do overlap.

Black Comedy vs. Gallows Humor

  • Black Comedy is a form of humor in which serious subjects are used as a source of comedy.
  • Gallows Humor is a form of Black Comedy in which the jokes are made from the perspective of the victim.

Black Eyes of Crazy vs. Black Eyes of Evil

Black Sheep Hit vs. Creator Backlash vs. Magnum Opus Dissonance vs. Old Shame

  • Black Sheep Hit: A musician has a big hit that is far removed from their usual style.
  • Creator Backlash: A creator detests their work despite its popularity.
  • Magnum Opus Dissonance: The work the creator considers their most important one is overshadowed by their "lesser" works.
  • Old Shame: A creator likes to pretend a certain work by them didn't exist.

Bland-Name Product vs. Fictional Counterpart

Blessed with Suck vs. Cursed with Awesome

  • Blessed with Suck is when a character has a power that, for whatever reason, isn't actually that useful.note 
  • Cursed with Awesome is when a character has a power that is genuinely useful, but for whatever reason, they don't want it.note 

"Blind Idiot" Translation vs. Either "World Domination", or Something About Bananas vs. My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels vs. Translation Train Wreck

  • In My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels, Alice doesn't speak Tropish very well, so she says something hilarious and nonsensical like "My hovercraft is full of eels."
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation is when Alice says something perfectly sensible in Tropish like "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak." Then Bob, who doesn't speak Tropish very well, translates it into something hilarious and nonsensical like "The vodka is good but the meat is rotten."
  • In Either "World Domination", or Something About Bananas, the above happens but instead of Bob translating it badly, he manages to narrow it down to two options: either "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak" or "The spirit is willing but the flesh is full of eels."
  • Translation Train Wreck is when a translation in Real Life is so mangled that the result is gibberish, usually the result of the translators not actually speaking any of the language they're translating to.

Blunder-Correcting Impulse vs. Correction Bait

  • The Blunder-Correcting Impulse is simply one character's compulsion to step in and do something right that's being done wrong by another.
  • Correction Bait is a deliberate attempt to set off this impulse; it refers to a character saying/doing something they know is incorrect in order to get the task done by an expert or get information that wasn't forthcoming from a standard question.

Body of Bodies vs Flesh Golem vs Frankenstein's Monster vs Fusion Dance vs Half-Human Hybrid vs Hybrid Monster vs Mix-and-Match Critters vs Mix-and-Match Man vs Partial Transformation vs Patchwork Kids vs Shapeshifter Mashup

  • Body of Bodies: A monster that takes the form of multiple bodies unevenly fused together (usually a lot of bodies, compared to other creatures listed here); the fusion happens through more "natural" causes.
  • Flesh Golem: A creature made of multiple bits of flesh fused together (usually not from birth); tends to only have monster-level instinct.
  • Frankenstein's Monster: The typical depictions of the monster in media (which are almost always called such): a monster made of multiple sections of human flesh and brought to life through forbidden science, usually having below human intelligence.
  • Fusion Dance: A technique of fusing two (or sometimes more) bodies and consciousnesses together, with varying results; tends to be temporary.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: A hybrid of one human and one nonhuman through normal means of reproduction.
  • Hybrid Monster: A creature comprised of features from different fantasy creatures.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: A creature comprised of features from different animals
  • Mix-and-Match Man: An artificial human made by splicing genes, or stitching body parts, of multiple humans into one body, with at least average human intellect.
  • Partial Transformation: An ability to transform only parts of your body to something else, which makes you look like a mixed-up creature.
  • Patchwork Kids: A child bears traits of both parents at once (usually in context of normal human conceptions).
  • Shapeshifter Mashup: When shapeshifting ability allows someone to gain features of various creatures at once.

Boisterous Weakling vs. Pintsize Powerhouse

  • A Boisterous Weakling is small or otherwise weak, but always willing to get into a fight, even with larger beings.
  • A Pintsize Powerhouse is small and appears weak, but is able to perform feats of strength or win fights. They're not necessarily as interested in starting fights.

Bokukko vs. The Lad-ette vs. Shorttank vs. Tomboy

  • A Tomboy is the supertrope to all of these.
  • A Bokukko is a girl who uses male pronouns; how boyish/girly she is is not important. This trope can only occur in a work written in a language which distinguishes first-person pronouns by gender.
  • A Shorttank is a more sporty tomboy where the boyish qualities outweigh the feminine qualities; they often wear pants or shorts with a tank top.
  • The Lad-ette is the girl who swears, drinks and arm-wrestles with the best of the guys.

Bond One-Liner vs. Pre Ass Kicking One Liner vs. Pre-Mortem One-Liner vs. Quip to Black

  • These are all jokes and/or snarky comments made in the context of a fight; the differences are when they happen:

Boobs of Steel vs. Buxom Is Better vs. Gag Boobs vs. Most Common Superpower

  • Boobs of Steel is when the strongest female fighter has the largest breasts in a team or the whole work.
  • Buxom Is Better is when the female character is attractive to other characters because she has large breasts or is more endowed than other females in the work.
  • Gag Boobs are when a woman's large breasts are used as a sight gag or other comedic purpose.
  • Most Common Superpower is the overwhelming tendency for Western female superheroes to have large breasts.

Boring, but Practical vs. Simple, yet Awesome vs. Simple, yet Opulent

  • Boring, but Practical things are not very exciting but are efficient enough with their purpose to see regular use.
  • Simple, yet Awesome behaves like the above, but with more emphasis on how well it can do its job.
  • Simple, yet Opulent is a cosmetic trope where something looks good despite its simple design.

Born Unlucky vs. The Jinx vs. Walking Disaster Area vs. Doom Magnet vs. Weirdness Magnet

  • Born Unlucky is a character who is cursed with bad luck, that only affects himself.
  • The Jinx is a character who is cursed with bad luck which affects everyone and everything close to him, both tropes may or may not overlap.
  • Winds of Destiny, Change! is when good luck for the character or bad luck for others becomes an actual superpower.
  • Walking Disaster Area is a character who keeps being indirectly responsible for disasters and suffering, because he is the hero constantly getting targeted by villains.
  • Doom Magnet is a variation of the above, where friends, family and loved ones are constantly getting into trouble and tragedy because of being near the hero.
  • Weirdness Magnet is when the character keeps attracting weird and supernatural stuff and being part of crazy incidents, however, those incidents are not necessarily bad for him or others.

Boy Meets Ghoul vs. I Love the Dead

Bragging Rights Reward vs. Cosmetic Award vs. And Your Reward Is Clothes vs. Undesirable Prize

  • Bragging Rights Reward is a prize that is given to those that can clear the hardest challenges the game has to offer. So while the prize may have practical use, it isn't really necessary because you can't even get it without being very skilled. The real reward is being able to prove that you beat the hardest challenges.
  • Cosmetic Award is a prize that doesn't do anything functional - it just looks nice.
    • And Your Reward Is Clothes is a specific example where the prize in question is clothing, accessories or general visual upgrades for your character.
  • Undesirable Prize is a prize that can't help you because it isn't strong enough or of sufficient quality. As a result, it's not worth the trouble you go through to get it, and doesn't even really demonstrate your skill with the game.

Brainless Beauty vs. Dumb Blonde

Bratty Half-Pint vs. Kid-Appeal Character vs. Tagalong Kid vs. Token Mini-Moe

  • A Bratty Half-Pint is that kid who is constantly finding trouble because they want to be a part of the team.
  • A Kid-Appeal Character (formerly the Bumblebee) is more of a marketing ploy, but the character can actually be a part of the team, usually the inexperienced one with youthful energy.
  • The Tagalong Kid is a little kid watching the heroism of the team with excitement.
  • The Token Mini-Moe is a kid who is usually part of the team, but mostly exists to provide moe appeal.

Breaking the Fourth Wall vs. Fourth Wall vs. Fourth-Wall Observer vs. Leaning on the Fourth Wall vs. Medium Awareness vs. No Fourth Wall vs. Painting the Medium vs. This Is Reality

  • The Fourth Wall is the metaphorical invisible wall between the characters in a story and the audience. It's the default state of most fiction that the characters are unaware that they're characters in a fictional story.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall is when characters speak to (or in some way acknowledge the existence of) the audience or the author, thereby acknowledging their own fictionality.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall is when characters appear to be breaking the fourth wall, but what they are doing or saying technically makes sense within their story.
  • Medium Awareness is when characters notice the conventions of the storytelling medium.
  • Fourth-Wall Observer is when a specific character has Medium Awareness, but the other characters don't and often believe this character is crazy.
  • No Fourth Wall describes fiction where the characters break the Fourth Wall all the time.
  • Painting the Medium is when the author plays with the conventions of a storytelling medium in order to convey additional information to the audience.
  • This Is Reality is the opposite of these Tropes, characters don't know they are in a story and reinforce the Fourth Wall by claiming this is real life and not fiction, altough this can be followed by a fourth wall break.

Break Them by Talking vs. Hannibal Lecture vs. "The Reason You Suck" Speech

  • Break Them by Talking means any situation where one character tries to break another's will by claiming uncomfortable things that the other can't deny.
    • Hannibal Lecture is a subtrope in which a character being interrogated turns the tables on the interrogator with psychological manipulation.
  • A "The Reason You Suck" Speech generally involves more of a reminder of everything that is out in the open, and does not necessarily have a tactical or strategic purpose. (If it does, it's probably also an instance of Break Them by Talking at the same time.) It can even be done between people that are supposed to be friends or allies.

Brick Joke vs. Chekhov's Gag

  • A Chekhov's Gag is humorous, involving a joke being set up, paying off, being forgotten by the viewer, then much later paying off yet again.
    • Example: Family Guy - In a cutaway about random Discovery channel specials, Peter watches an Animal Documentary-esque program about the hunting rituals of fire engines. Later on, at the very end of the episode, a feral fire engine ends up on their lawn for another gag. Basically a call-back gag.
  • A Brick Joke is not solely about humor, and is plot-related. A minor, insignificant, or seemingly concluded event occurs, and the viewer is meant to think it over and done with. The event then recurs much later on to effect the plot in an unexpected way.
    • Example: Early in the plot, John Doe steals something insignificant as a show to the audience of how much of a rogue he is, and escapes the police. Later on he is shot, and it's revealed he never got around to taking the thing out his pocket, so the bullet ricocheted off of it, saving his life.

Bring My Brown Pants vs. No Dead Body Poops vs. Potty Emergency vs. Potty Failure

  • When a character has a Bring My Brown Pants moment, it's because something scared him so badly he wet or soiled himself.
  • No Dead Body Poops refers to the tendency for works (especially visually-based media) to not depict people voiding their bowels/bladder upon death.
  • A character having a Potty Emergency is in desperate need of a toilet, but has not yet lost control.
  • A character who suffers Potty Failure was in desperate need of a toilet, but has lost control.

Broken Aesop vs. Clueless Aesop vs. Hard Truth Aesop vs. Fantastic Aesop vs. Lost Aesop vs. Space Whale Aesop

  • A Broken Aesop is a clear message, but it contradicts what happened through the story. "Thou shall not kill", but the hero kills many people.
  • A Clueless Aesop is straightforward and plain, but it fails because of how poorly the writers handle the issues being presented or being in a work not intended for such subjects, like talking about drugs and sex in a young kids show.
  • In a Hard Truth Aesop, the message is questionable in and of itself, but not necessarily wrong. "If you want to defeat the bad guy, you're not supposed to have a fair fight with him".
  • A Fantastic Aesop is when the message is irrelevant to viewers from the planet Earth. "Don't use time travel to fix your mistakes" or "Don't use magic to bring people back from the dead".
  • A Lost Aesop is a moral that is presented in so confusing and contradictory a fashion that it is unclear exactly what the message is supposed to be.
  • A Space Whale Aesop is a legit moral that works in real life but is presented using consequences that are highly unlikely to realistically occur. "Don't destroy the forests, or the trees will gain life and attack your town".

Broken Base vs. Fan Dumb vs. They Changed It, Now It Sucks! vs. Unpleasable Fanbase

  • Broken Base is when the fans of a work are heavily divided in their own opinions, to the point of having a Flame War on just about anything.
  • Fan Dumb is the critical fan who can end up being an annoyance because they are so set on their opinions.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks! is about the fans being quick to judge a change in the source material as "Ruined FOREVER!"
  • Unpleasable Fanbase can cover all of the above, but is about how any effort to please the fans will fail because of differing desires.

Brown Note vs. Dreadful Musician vs. Glass-Shattering Sound vs. Make Me Wanna Shout

  • Brown Note is a sensory input (including but not limited to hearing) that can cause physiological or psychological harm when someone is exposed to it.
  • Dreadful Musician is about musical performances so horribly bad that they causes distress (but generally not actual injury) to the audience.
  • Glass-Shattering Sound consists of sonic vibrations capable of breaking fragile objects.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout covers sonic blasts capable of inflicting direct physical damage, not limited to fragile targets.

Buffyspeak vs. Totally Radical

  • Totally Radical is a genuine attempt by the writers (or a character) to use modern (or period) slang, but it comes off as fake because it's from the wrong period, or otherwise misused.
  • Buffyspeak is a writer avoiding the first trope by using made-up speech patterns that sound plausible but aren't an actual attempt to use Real Life slang.

Bulletproof Human Shield vs. Human Shield

  • Bulletproof Human Shield is when a character grabs another person to block or absorb incoming gunfire, and doesn't care if the victim gets killed in the process.
  • Human Shield is when a character (usually a villain) grabs another person to stop his attackers from opening fire, for fear of hitting the victim.

Bullet Time vs. Super Reflexes

  • Bullet Time is a visual effect showing that a character's senses are so heightened that he can react to things as if they were in slow-motion.
  • Super Reflexes is a Stock Superpower where a character can react to situations faster than normal; it may be depicted (visually) with Bullet Time, Slow Motion, or some other effect.

Bullying a Dragon vs. Do Not Taunt Cthulhu vs. Mugging the Monster vs. Underestimating Badassery

  • Bullying a Dragon is about knowingly picking on a superpowered person, despite or because of the fact that they have super powers, often ones that can kill you.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu is when you pick on a superpowered person and they respond by curbstomping you.
  • Mugging the Monster is when a criminal or otherwise bad person doesn't realize that they are picking on a superpowered person.
  • Underestimating Badassery is when a criminal or otherwise bad person believes they have some advantage that lets them believe they can get away with picking on a superpowered person.

Bunny-Ears Lawyer vs. Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass vs. Let's Get Dangerous! vs. Obfuscating Stupidity vs. Obfuscating Insanity vs. Crazy Is Cool

Burn the Witch! vs. Witch Hunt vs. The Witch Hunter

  • In Burn the Witch!, someone who is believed to be a witch is killed by being set on fire. Burning at the stake is a very common method.
  • In a Witch Hunt, a community is fanatically obsessed with driving out an enemy; hunts for literal witches are the Trope Namer, but the people can be hunting someone else.
  • The Witch Hunter is an individual whose profession or mission is to literally catch witches (or sometimes other supernaturals).

But I Can't Be Pregnant! vs. But We Used a Condom! vs. Miss Conception vs. Surprise Pregnancy

  • But I Can't Be Pregnant!: Pregnancy occurs despite biological factors that should've made it impossible (age, injury, differing species.)
  • But We Used a Condom!: Pregnancy occurs despite the use of birth control (which may or may not have been used correctly).
  • Miss Conception: Pregnancy occurs, with the woman being unaware that she could get pregnant under certain conditions, either through ignorance or belief in old wives tales.
  • Surprise Pregnancy: Pregnancy and birth occur despite the woman being unaware (truly or willfully) that she was pregnant at all.

But Not Too Evil vs. Harmless Villain vs. Poke the Poodle

  • But Not Too Evil is a villain that Moral Guardians complain about because he is seen as "too evil" for the work he's in. He is sometimes toned down as a result of the complaints and sometimes not.
  • A Harmless Villain is an antagonist that was never intended to be a serious threat; they're most often found in funny shows and as comic relief if there is a more evil/harmful villain.
  • Poke the Poodle is an "evil" action that's not really all that serious. A Harmless Villain can poke the poodle as a joke, but sometimes something a serious villain does fails at looking evil and is also poodle-poking.

Butt-Monkey vs. The Chew Toy vs. Cosmic Plaything vs. The Woobie

  • The Butt-Monkey : Nothing ever goes right for this character, and if something bad is going to happen to someone, chances are it's going to happen to them.
  • The Chew Toy is somebody the audience enjoys seeing suffer. Always Played for Laughs.
  • The Woobie is somebody the audience sympathizes with when they are being abused, Played for Drama.
  • The Cosmic Plaything is someone in these situations who is aware of the fact that the gods/universe/writers have it in for them.

By "No", I Mean "Yes" vs Distinction Without a Difference

  • By "No", I Mean "Yes": The same character first denies something, then admits to the same thing. ("I am not threatening you. Ok, I'm threatening you." or "I am not a pirate. ... I'm a pirate.")
  • Distinction Without a Difference: The character denies something, then admits that they are doing the thing by using a different name for it, or admits to doing something so similar as to be functionally indistinguishable. ("I am not threatening you. I am explaining what I will do to you if you don't do what I want." or "I am not a pirate. I am an Aquatic Property-Redistibution Specialist.")

Byronic Hero vs. Classical Anti-Hero vs. Knight in Sour Armor vs. Knight Templar vs. Nominal Hero vs. Pragmatic Hero vs. Sociopathic Hero vs. Unscrupulous Hero

  • When it comes to cynicism, morality, and principles, AntiHeroes come in a wide variety of flavors. To elaborate on a few notable ones:
    • The Byronic Hero is a brooding figure that is defined by their internal conflict and personal passions which largely affect, if not govern their actions. They tend to live and operate by their ideals alone, even if it means coming into conflict with others.
    • The Classical Anti-Hero is defined by being flawed and having hindrances like cowardice, poor fighting ability, or self-doubt.
    • The Knight in Sour Armor stands out for their realistic and/or cynical outlook, accepting the fact that being a hero is tough and that the world is cruel, but this doesn't stop them from trying to do the right thing.
    • The Knight Templar thinks they're doing the right thing and being a hero, when their actions and outlook practically classify them as villains. They want to believe that they're doing what has to be done, but they ultimately do more harm than good.
    • The Nominal Hero only does good for personal gain. It could be for money, the exhilaration from fighting, revenge, or because their lives depend on it. For whatever reason they're saving the day, it's not of a desire to do what's right.
    • The Pragmatic Hero is defined by the willingness to take morally questionable measures to save the day. They have good intentions and likely good morals too, but they just aren't afraid to get their hands dirty.
    • The Sociopathic Hero is defined for having a notable Lack of Empathy. They still fight for the side of good, but they have a clear disregard for the well-being and lives of the enemies (and in some cases the innocent), and will take extreme measures to get the job done, even if it means manipulation, torture, or killing.
    • The Unscrupulous Hero is increasingly ruthless and brutal and lacks both a positive outlook and moral cleanliness, but nevertheless still chooses to fight for good and for morally good reasons.


Call-Back vs. Continuity Nod vs. Mythology Gag

  • A Call-Back is a reference to the past of the characters in the scene that does influence their thoughts or actions in the current plot.
  • A Continuity Nod is a reference to the past of the characters in the scene that doesn't affect the current plot.
  • A Mythology Gag is a reference to some aspect of the universe or an earlier adaptation, but isn't a part of the past of the characters in the scene.

The Call Knows Where You Live vs. The Villain Knows Where You Live

Calling Card vs. My Card

  • A Calling Card is named for the same trope as My Card, but is a signature piece of evidence left at a crime scene by a villain, and doesn't have to be a literal card.
  • In My Card, someone actually presents a business or personal card to introduce themselves.

Calvinball vs. Gretzky Has the Ball vs. Artistic License – Sports vs. New Rules as the Plot Demands vs. Unnecessary Roughness

  • Calvinball is when a game doesn't have any rules or the rules are deliberately changed from session to session, except for maybe one or two consistent rules purely to identify the game as itself (for example, Calvinball's One Hard Rule is "Calvinball must never be played the same way twice")
  • Gretzky Has the Ball is when the rules of real life sports or games are presented erroneously purposely in-character, usually for the Rule of Funny.
  • Artistic License – Sports is when the rules of real life sports or games are presented erroneously or ignored completely by the writers either for plot-convenience or due to Critical Research Failure.
  • New Rules as the Plot Demands is when a game that exists in-series operates in a nonsensical, impossible, or self-contradictory way. There are presumed to be rules, but what those might be is completely lost on the viewer.
  • Unnecessary Roughness is when the players are shown to be violent in a way that would be against the rules in Real Life.

Campbell Country vs. Lovecraft Country

Camp Straight vs. The Dandy

  • A Camp Straight character has pretty much all of the traits of Camp Gay except for the homosexuality.
  • The Dandy is simply overly concerned with his/her appearance. This is usually what most people mean when they say "Metrosexual".

Canon Foreigner vs. Canon Immigrant

  • Canon Foreigner refers to a character exclusive to a certain adaptation of a previously-existing fictional universe.
  • Canon Immigrant is when a character originally created in an adaptation is later introduced in the original source material.

Canon Sue vs. Creator's Pet vs. The Scrappy vs. X-Pac Heat

Cannon Fodder vs. Redshirt Army

The Cape vs. Ideal Hero

  • Ideal Hero is a hero which embodies the ideal kind of "good" morality and serves as a role model.
  • The Cape is a subtrope of the above, exclusive to superhero stories with heroes of this ideal.

Captain Ersatz vs. Expy vs. Lawyer-Friendly Cameo

  • A Captain Ersatz is a character created to stand in for one that the author is not able or willing to use, usually due to legal issues.
  • An Expy is a character that bears similarities to another character in another work, but in the end is supposed to be separate, similar to siblings. This often happens within works by the same author as the previous character, but it can also be a Homage or Shout-Out by another author.
  • A Lawyer-Friendly Cameo is straight up supposed to be that character. Technically all instances of this trope is copyright infringement, however trouble is usually avoided by limiting their appearance to a Freeze-Frame Bonus (hence cameo) so legal teams let it slide to avoid wasting time and money for a minor offense.

Captain Ethnic vs. Captain Geographic vs. Captain Patriotic

  • Captain Ethnic is a superhero whose powers and appearance are based on ethnic/national stereotypes
  • Captain Geographic is a superhero whose appearance is based on the flag and/or geography of a region
  • Captain Patriotic is a superhero who is motivated by patriotism

Captain Obvious Reveal vs The Un-Twist

Card-Carrying Villain vs. Obviously Evil

Cardiovascular Love vs. Heart Symbol

Cartwright Curse vs. Fatal Attractor

The Cassandra vs. Cassandra Truth vs. Ignored Expert

  • Cassandra Truth is any time when a great secret or danger is discovered by someone, but their warnings fall on deaf ears. Often attributed to children. It includes the following:
    • The Cassandra is someone whose warnings and predictions go dismissed and unbelieved because they're perceived as being unreliable, despite a nearly-infallible track record of previous warnings or predictions coming true.
    • The Ignored Expert's warnings and predictions go dismissed and unbelieved because the warnings are unpopular, despite their expertise and extensive knowledge of the subject.

Cassandra Gambit vs. Cassandra Truth vs. Sarcastic Confession

  • A Cassandra Gambit is a widespread release of true information through low-credibility channels. It may be intended to discredit the truth, or to disseminate the truth in a way that maintains plausible deniability.
  • A Cassandra Truth is meant to be believed, but isn't; it's a subtrope of Poor Communication Kills.
  • A Sarcastic Confession is a character stating the truth, with the intent of making it sound like an absurd joke and thus preventing the listener from believing it.

Cassandra Truth vs. Not Now, Kiddo

  • Cassandra Truth: A character delivers important news, but is not believed.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: A character is never given the chance to deliver the news.

Casting Couch vs.Sexual Extortion vs Scarpia Ultimatum

  • These are all ways a villainous (or just plain sleazy) character manipulates a woman into sex.
    • With the Casting Couch, it's done under threat of torpedoing her efforts to get into acting.
    • In Sexual Extortion, it's done under threat of being fired.
    • The Scarpia Ultimatum is when this is done under threat of the woman's actual spouse/partner/etc. being harmed or killed.

Casual Kink vs. Conveniently Common Kink

  • Casual Kink: A character's kink is unique among the cast but nobody makes a big deal out of it.
  • Conveniently Common Kink: A character's kink is shared by their love interest and possibly others.

Catchphrase vs. Verbal Tic

  • A Catchphrase is a signature, repeated phrase a character says that's usually catchy and easy to remember.
    • Example: Whenever she does something cool, Alice yells "Made of win!"
  • A Verbal Tic is a small, inconsequential speech habit a character has in their sentences.
    • Example: Bob begins many things he says with the word "Anyways..." and ends them with "and yeah."

Cat Fight vs. Designated Girl Fight

Celibate Hero vs. Chaste Hero

  • A Chaste Hero is ignorant of sex and oblivious to romance in general.
  • A Celibate Hero knows about them (in theory, at least) but eschews them as secondary to his goals.

Cerebus Syndrome vs. Darker and Edgier

  • Cerebus Syndrome is when a light, comedic series gets more serious and dramatic as it goes on (but not necessarily darker).
  • Darker and Edgier is when a series gets darker undertones over time or when a sequel/reboot/alternate continuity is noticeably darker than its predecessor(s) (but not necessarily more serious).

Cessation of Existence vs. Fading Away vs. The Nothing After Death

  • Cessation of Existence is when death results in one's soul or personhood simply no longer existing. It does not travel to an afterlife, it does not reincarnate, it's just gone. This can be either the normal result of death in the setting, or the result of something unusual.
  • Fading Away is a form of death in which the deceased's body visibly fades from existence. What happens to the soul or personhood is irrelevant.
  • The Nothing After Death is technically an "afterlife", in that it is something experienced by one's soul or personhood after death, but it is an incredibly bleak one which contains absolutely nothing; essentially an infinite blankness.

Character Derailment vs. Out of Character

Character Filibuster vs. Holding the Floor

  • In a Character Filibuster the author lectures the reader on a particular point (often political) by using a character to give a long speech.
  • In Holding the Floor the character must filibuster for an in-universe reason, usually to buy time or provide a distraction. The content of the speech itself doesn't matter.
    • The same speech can serve both functions, with the latter justifying the former.

Characterization Marches On vs. Character Exaggeration vs. Flanderization

  • Characterization Marches On is when a character is known for some attribute, but in early works (before the author knew what they wanted to do with a character) they act almost out of character.
    • ex: On the Alice and Bob Show, Bob is famous for his love of cereal, but in early episodes he is seen rejecting it at times.
  • Character Exaggeration is when in some sort of adaptation a character's attribute is blown out of proportion, to the point where they become nearly a parody of their former selves.
    • ex: In the Alice and Bob Movie, Bob is shown to know the history of every cereal ever created.
  • Flanderization is Character Exaggeration in canon.
    • ex: In a later episode of the Alice and Bob show, Bob suffers a traumatic breakdown from lack of cereal.

Character-Magnetic Team vs. Hitchhiker Heroes vs. Magnetic Hero

  • A Character-Magnetic Team is a team where each member attracts more, snowballing into a massive cast.
  • Hitchhiker Heroes is more about the group members.
  • Magnetic Hero is about the plot of group finding, using a hero's ability to persuade and attract others to his cause.

Character Outlives Actor vs. The Other Darrin

  • Character Outlives Actor is when an actor dies, but the character is still alive offscreen.
  • The Other Darrin refers to a character whose actor dies or quits, but is replaced so as to keep the character.

Charm Person vs. Compelling Voice

Both are about the supernatural ability to control someone's actions.
  • With Charm Person, the ability can be disobeyed or resisted, usually taking an act of extreme willpower on the part of the person being controlled.
  • The Compelling Voice can't be disobeyed, period.

Cheaters Never Prosper vs. Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat

Cheerful Funeral vs. The "Fun" in "Funeral" vs. Last Disrespects

  • Cheerful Funeral is intentional. Someone who is dying/has died, or their surviving loved ones, decided that their funeral should be a lighthearted occasion. Can include jokes in the eulogy or upbeat music.
  • The "Fun" in "Funeral" is when a funeral, intended to be serious or at least problem-free, becomes funny to the audience through things going wrong. Can include people not paying their Due to the Dead, Amusing Injuries or Ashes to Crashes.
  • Last Disrespects is intentionally inappropriate, upbeat behavior at a funeral of a hated person, to celebrate that they're gone.

Chekhov's Armoury vs. Chekhov's Boomerang vs. Chekhov's Gun

  • A Chekhov's Gun is an object that is set up as unimportant, then used as a plot device, surprising the audience with actual significance.
  • A Chekhov's Boomerang is a Chekhov's Gun after it has been used, and the audience assumes it has no further importance, but is unexpectedly reused and surprises the audience with new actual significance.
  • Chekhov's Armoury is a lot of Chekhovs Guns in the same story.

Cherry Tapping vs. Death of a Thousand Cuts vs. Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu? vs. Finger Poke of Doom vs. Zerg Rush

  • Cherry Tapping is when an enemy is finished off with a weak attack.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts is when an attack consists of several individual weak parts that add together for a strong impact.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu? is when a weak individual defeats a much stronger one.
  • Finger Poke of Doom is when a relatively weak (or weak-looking) attack actually has a powerful impact on the target.
  • Zerg Rush is when a large number of weak individuals attack at once, using their sheer numbers to overwhelm the enemy.

The Chessmaster vs. Magnificent Bastard vs. Manipulative Bastard

  • Many debates have surrounded these tropes.
    • The Chessmaster is someone who looks upon everyone as being pawns in a game; the chess metaphor is frequently used. They sit safely away in their (often evil) lair and play everyone against each other.
    • The Magnificent Bastard is someone whose intelligence and capability alone causes fear and respect in the heroes. They likely will manipulate people to their advantage, but unlike the Chessmaster they are personally active in their schemes. As a result they usually have a much higher success rate than most villains and will likely have a large fanbase.
    • The Manipulative Bastard is someone who can identify an emotional nerve within someone and then proceed to exploit that flaw to their own advantage.

Chewing the Scenery vs. Large Ham

  • Chewing the Scenery is when a character who is usually acted in a normal fashion suddenly starts acting like a Large Ham.
  • A Large Ham is a character who is almost constantly overacting.

Chick Magnet vs. Mr. Fanservice

  • A Chick Magnet is a male character who's liked by female characters in-universe; he's pursued by admirers often and/or gets into relationships easily. Whether the audience likes him is beside the point, and some examples of this trope are too cartoony or non-human to attract the majority of the audience.
  • An Mr. Fanservice character is made to be attractive to female fans of the work; he's usually played by a good-looking actor (but it can be pulled off in animation and literature) and has romantic, badass or otherwise likeable qualities. He doesn't have to have a love interest or people remark on his attractiveness in-universe.

Clark Kenting vs. Paper-Thin Disguise vs. Wig, Dress, Accent

Cliffhanger vs. Sequel Hook

  • A Cliffhanger is when the story is not concluded within the single movie or television show, which requires an additional movie or episode to finish the story. The worst case is Left Hanging, when that conclusion does not happen.
  • A Sequel Hook is when the story is finished, whether it be a Happy Ending or a Downer Ending, but hints are given towards a new storyline in the sequel.

Closing Credits vs. Creative Closing Credits vs. Credits Gag

  • Closing Credits are the credits that roll at the end of a show.
  • Creative Closing Credits are interesting variations on closing credits, as opposed to the classic "white text and black background."
  • A Credits Gag is a joke that appears during the end credits.

Clueless Detective vs. Defective Detective

  • A Clueless Detective is just an unintelligent, bumbling clown who has actual trouble solving the mysteries; they're usually found in parodies or as a Foil to a more successful detective.
  • A Defective Detective has some kind of personal problem (like an Ambiguous Disorder or an addiction) but is usually competent enough to solve the mysteries.

Coincidental Broadcast vs. Crystal-Ball Scheduling

  • A Coincidental Broadcast is one that acts as a plot enabler - the characters act on the information that they have conveniently been given.
  • Crystal-Ball Scheduling acts as a metaphor for events on the show - it doesn't have any plot relevance, but allows the writer to comment on the storyline without breaking the Fourth Wall.

Coitus Uninterruptus vs. Interrupted Intimacy vs. Primal Scene

  • Coitus Uninterruptus is when the couple keeps having sex while speaking to the person that just walked in.
  • Interrupted Intimacy is when a couple is about to have sex only for people to walk in, forcing them to break the act.
  • Primal Scene is when a couple is having sex, only for a young child to discover them.

Colbert Bump vs. Newbie Boom vs. Sleeper Hit

  • A Colbert Bump is a work becoming more popular as the result of another work featuring or referencing it.
  • A Newbie Boom is a work or fandom swiftly becoming more popular in a small period of time.
  • A Sleeper Hit is a work that is ill-known during production, but suddenly becomes well-known shortly after release.

Cold-Blooded Torture vs. Enhanced Interrogation Techniques vs. Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique vs. Torture Always Works

Colony Drop vs. Death from Above vs. Kill Sat vs. Orbital Bombardment

Combat Medic vs. Deadly Doctor vs. Martial Medic

  • A Combat Medic is a character who serves as a healer but has the ability to fight when needed.
  • A Deadly Doctor is someone who uses their medical knowledge and/or medical instruments to fight, kill, injure, etc. He is also more likely to be evil.
  • A Martial Medic is a martial arts instructor who can offer better medical care than a doctor.

Comic-Book Fantasy Casting vs. Hypothetical Casting vs. Ink-Suit Actor vs. No Celebrities Were Harmed vs. Textual Celebrity Resemblance

  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting is where a character in a comic or animation looks like a real person (usually an actor, musician or model) but clearly isn't meant to actually "be" that person.
  • Hypothetical Casting is where Word Of God indicates a creator's preferred casting for a dramatic adaptation.
  • Ink-Suit Actor is where a character in an animated work is designed to look like the real-world performer who did their voice.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed is where a fictional character is clearly intended to be a fictionalized version or caricature of a celebrity, down to having a similar profession and/or a personality based on that person's public persona.
  • Textual Celebrity Resemblance is where a prose work describes a character by likening them to a real-world celebrity.

Comic-Book Time vs Webcomic Time vs Frozen in Time

  • Comic-Book Time is where the illusion of time passing means characters don't age much if at all.
  • Webcomic Time is where time actually does pass over the course of the series, but at a much slower rate than its real-time publication or airing. Sometimes this can be achieved by backdating stories to match up with the date they are supposed to have occurred or explicitly setting it in the time the story started. Not to be confused with Alternate History which does a similar sort of thing, but not with the passage of time.
  • Frozen in Time is when a work's concept is so tightly bound to a particular era it cannot leave that era or everything needs to be in a particular era in order for the work to make sense or be accepted by audiences (e.g. having a slavery story set in present day America would have very different implications than having a slavery story set in the Antebellum South). Outlander is one such example.

Coming and Going vs. Death by Sex vs. Out with a Bang

  • In Coming and Going, sex and death are juxtaposed by happening at the same/a similar time, not necessarily to the same character or in a related situation.
  • In Death by Sex, the same person who has the sex ends up dying, for whatever reason (the killer caught a spouse cheating, the killer hates sex, the characters couldn't avoid the killer, et cetera.)
  • In Out with a Bang, someone dies during sex, for whatever reason.

Commercialized Christmas vs. Santa Clausmas vs. You Mean "Xmas"

Compilation Rerelease vs. Game of The Year Edition vs. Updated Re-release vs. Video Game Remake

  • A Compilation Rerelease is several related games re-released together as a bundle, typically at a discounted price.
  • A Game of The Year Edition is a game re-released with all post-release content (expansions, DLC, patches, etc.), typically at a discounted price.
  • An Updated Re-release is a game re-released with additional content and/or improvements, typically at a normal price.note 
  • A Video Game Remake is a total remake of an old game using a new engine or platform.note 

Concept Album vs. Rock Opera

Confess to a Lesser Crime vs. Embarrassing Cover Up vs. Infraction Distraction

  • Confess to a Lesser Crime is an outright admission of a lesser offense in order to hide a greater one.
  • Embarrassing Cover Up is pretending that you were being secretive in order to hide something awkward or squicky but not really important.
  • Infraction Distraction is allowing yourself to be suspected of minor misdeeds to throw investigators off the trail of something more serious.

Confusion Fu vs. Indy Ploy vs. Strategy, Schmategy

  • Confusion Fu is when a character is unpredictable intentionally, using confusion as their main strategy.
  • The Indy Ploy is when a character improvises his plan of action as he goes along.
  • Strategy, Schmategy is when a character has no idea what he's doing. (Different from Indy Ploy because here the character doesn't know how to improve his situation).

Conspicuous in the Crowd vs. Distinctive Appearances vs. Flashy Protagonists, Bland Extras vs. Uniformity Exception

Continuity Creep vs. Continuity Drift vs. Earth Drift

  • Continuity Creep is about a series that slowly uses continuity to a greater degree.
  • Continuity Drift is about the continuity itself slowly changing.
  • Earth Drift is a subtrope where the continuity changes to be less like the real world.

Continuity Snarl vs. Negative Continuity vs. Series Continuity Error

  • A Continuity Snarl is when multiple storylines in a shared 'verse begin to contradict each other, confusing the overall story.
  • Negative Continuity is when a work has no continuity at all, with each installment ignoring most (if not all) happenings in previous ones.
  • A Series Continuity Error is when something happens that contradicts the story's established continuity.

Controversy-Proof Image vs. Streisand Effect vs. No Such Thing as Bad Publicity vs. Role-Ending Misdemeanor

  • Streisand Effect is the most well known definition, when an attempt to censor information or ban a work will only cause that information to spread further or increase the interest in that work. Most examples are celebrities and companies trying to bury something that would destroy their reputations, but it backfires.
  • No Such Thing as Bad Publicity is when controversy that could ruin the reputation of a person, a company, or a work/franchise instead helps the career of the person or the profitability of the company/work/franchise. Most examples are caused thanks to an intentional attempt to cause controversy by Moral Guardians; there's a very thin line between two, but the difference is that Moral Guardians are not trying to bury information, they are actually trying to make something more known but giving it infamy.
  • Controversy-Proof Image is when celebrities that did stuff that should have destroyed their careers, in many cases justified and with expected consequences, but the controversy instead helps their careers, sometimes because people expect them to do this. Moral Guardians trying to destroy their careers are not necessary.
  • Role-Ending Misdemeanor is the polar opposite—a celebrity that was part of a controversy had their career ruined or greatly damaged, regardless of whether it was justified.

Conveniently an Orphan vs. Orphan's Ordeal

  • Conveniently an Orphan covers the common narrative device of making the hero an orphan to provide them a particular heroic motivation, or to unroot them so they can go on some unrelated adventure. Generally the parents died some time ago, and the hero may not angst about them very much on-screen.
  • Orphan's Ordeal covers stories where the grief and other hardships associated with lost parents are a major focus of the plot. Generally the parents died more recently.

Conversational Troping vs. Discussed Trope vs. Lampshade Hanging

Cool Old Lady vs. Never Mess with Granny

  • A Cool Old Lady is an old woman who still does interesting things or tells interesting stories; she doesn't have to be conventionally "badass" and is frequently very nice, because what makes her cool is that it's fun to be around her.
  • Never Mess with Granny is about an old woman who has the ability to physically harm other people, whether it's an ongoing trait or a single scene. She's more likely than a Cool Old Lady to be mean or evil, though she doesn't have to be.

Cordon Bleugh Chef vs. Lethal Chef vs. One-Note Cook

  • A Cordon Bleugh Chef is an otherwise skilled cook who has an unfortunate habit of mixing ingredients that should not be mixed. The result of these "experiments" is usually indistinguishable from that of the Lethal Chef.
  • A Lethal Chef is one who has absolutely no culinary skills. Their dishes go past merely bad and straight to "toxic."
  • A One-Note Cook has one dish, or type of dish, at which they excel at making. Outside of that area of expertise, they're usually a Lethal Chef.

Corrupt Church vs. Path of Inspiration vs. Religion of Evil

  • The Corrupt Church is an essentially legitimate ("good") religion that has become rotten under the surface, usually due to corrupt individuals in the church offices or subversion by exterior evil forces.
  • The Path of Inspiration is a religion intentionally created by its leaders or patron deities for evil or selfish purposes that disguises itself as a legitimate good faith, typically setting itself up as a Villain with Good Publicity while exploiting its followers or manipulating them into unknowingly doing the work of evil.
  • The Religion of Evil is a religion openly and consciously dedicated to promoting evil, empowering villains, and worshipping malevolent supernatural forces, which if covert dedicates itself to keeping its entire existence a secret from wider society rather than pretending to be good.

Cosmic Horror Story vs. Eldritch Abomination vs. Lovecraft Lite

  • Cosmic Horror Story is the genre where the universe is a hopeless, horrific and meaningless place, often filled to the brim with obscenely powerful entities that could crush humanity like an ant and not notice, and it is only a matter of time before that happens.
  • Eldritch Abominations are strange otherworldly monstrosities from beyond; they do the crushing mentioned above. Their very existence clashes with reality as we understand it, and people trying to comprehend their wrongness are usually driven insane.
  • Lovecraft Lite is a genre that uses many of the trappings of a Cosmic Horror Story, but is not bleak, hopeless, or meaningless. The evil entities can be defeated permanently; the good guys can win decisively; the world, and humanity, can survive.

Cowboy BeBop at His Computer vs. I Am Not Shazam

  • Cowboy BeBop at His Computer is about a news article that presents erroneous information about a work, often to the point where it seems they didn't read/watch the thing.
  • I Am Not Shazam concerns confusion over the title of a work and what it is supposed to represent within the work.

Crapsack World vs. Earth That Was and Earth That Used to Be Better

  • A Crapsack World is a horrible place where the pessimistic notion of "anything that can go wrong will go horribly wrong" almost always applies, and it corrupts its inhabitants into perpetuating that nastiness against each other. Many examples of Earth That Was are a Crapsack World, but they don't have to be.
  • Earth That Was is when humanity has completely or almost completely abandoned Earth.
  • Earth That Used to Be Better is when humanity begun to abandon Earth.

Creator Backlash vs. Old Shame

  • Creator Backlash is when a creator hates one of his works in spite of its sizeable fandom because of factors outside of its quality.
  • Old Shame is when a creator hates one of his works because of its low quality; said work has little to no fandom.

Creepy Child vs. Cute and Psycho vs. Enfant Terrible vs. Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon vs. A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

  • Creepy Child is when young characters do things that seem disturbing, either because they're age-inappropriate or just downright weird. These do not have to be violent tendencies.
  • Cute and Psycho is when a sweet-looking character is revealed to have psychotic tendencies under the surface. Age-restrictions need not apply, but often do.
  • Enfant Terrible is when a young character is blatantly evil - they like or are prepared to hurt others for their own gain.
  • Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon is when a character's charming appearance hides how wicked they are under the surface. These do not have to be violent tendencies, and can be general evil traits. This trope applies to adults instead of children.
  • A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing is a character pretending to be milder or weaker than they are to hide their true nature. Malevolence is not a requirement, so long as they have something to conceal.

Creepy Doll vs. Happy Fun Ball vs. Perverse Puppet

  • A Creepy Doll is a doll that looks creepy. It usually scares people due to invoking the Uncanny Valley, but need not be harmful or even actually alive in any way.
  • A Happy Fun Ball is a toy or other household object that is dangerous, although not necessarily willfully so.
  • A Perverse Puppet is what you get when toys decide to get in on Everything Trying to Kill You. It's a doll or puppet that is alive and actively harmful.

Crime After Crime vs. Never One Murder

Criminal Doppelgänger vs. Evil Counterpart vs. Evil Knockoff vs. Evil Twin

Crossover vs. Intercontinuity Crossover vs. Massive Multiplayer Crossover vs. Fusion Fic

  • A Crossover is the appearance of a show's characters in another show that is set in the same universe as the former show.
  • An Intercontinuity Crossover is like a Crossover but the two shows present are not set in the same universe.
    • Note that this is the type often seen in webcomics (although it's generally referred to in those communities simply as a "crossover"), when two authors coordinate to create overlapping storylines — they each tell one half in their own strip, and the reader must flip back and forth, interleaving them to see the full story.
  • A Massive Multiplayer Crossover is like an Intercontinuity Crossover but with three or more shows.
  • A Fusion Fic is a Fan Fic in which the cast of one work is partly or completely replaced by the cast of another work, and the original work's plot plays out modified by the new characters' quirks.

Crosscast Role vs. Gender Flip

  • A Crosscast Role has a male actor playing a female character (or vice versa).
  • Gender Flip has a female actor playing a female character (or vice versa), but the character was originally conceived and/or written as a male.

Crossover Finale vs. Fully Absorbed Finale:

Cruel Twist Ending vs. Diabolus ex Machina vs. Sudden Downer Ending

  • A Cruel Twist Ending is a plot twist occurring at the very end to create a bad ending purely for the sake of a bad ending.
  • A Diabolus ex Machina is when something suddenly happens to screw the protagonists over and have the bad guys win, not necessarily at the end.
  • A Sudden Downer Ending is a downer ending in a work whose tone wouldn't lead one to expect such an ending.

Curb-Stomp Battle vs. No Holds Barred Beat Down vs. One-Hit Kill

  • In a Curb-Stomp Battle, the fight is swift, decisive, and completely one-sided. Usually done by the good guys.
  • In a No Holds Barred Beat Down, the fight is completely one-sided, brutal, and lasts as long as the victor wants it to. Usually done to the good guys.
  • In a One-Hit Kill, the fight is over with the first hit. More likely to happen to the bad guys.

Curious as a Monkey vs. Constantly Curious

  • Curious as a Monkey: A young child who tries to learn about the world around him by taking things apart and figuring out how they work.
  • Constantly Curious: A person, usually young, who tries to learn about the world around them by constantly asking questions.

Cute and Psycho vs. Sugar-and-Ice Personality vs. Tsundere vs. Yandere

  • Cute and Psycho is a character whose sweetness hides a violent or psychotic side. Unlike the Yandere, the reason for this violent side does not have to be related to love.
  • A character with Sugar-and-Ice Personality appears cold at first, but is softer and more loving underneath.
  • A Tsundere comes in two variants:
    • A Type A acts angry or aloof, but has a softer side that can (usually) be triggered by specific people.
    • A Type B is nice and affectionate by default, but can be aggressive on occasion. Note that the Type B Tsundere will be far more stable than the Cute and Psycho or Yandere.
  • A Yandere is a character who may appear sweet on the surface, but underneath is obsessive or even psychotic over someone they love.

Cut Short vs. Left Hanging vs No Ending

  • Cut Short is when the work has no resolution because of external reasons (the author died, the work was a commercial flop, the network pulled the plug on it,...).
  • Left Hanging is when the main story is resolved but other threads aren't.
  • No Ending is when the author intentionally ends his work with the main plot unresolved.

Cute as a Bouncing Betty vs. I Call It "Vera"

  • Cute as a Bouncing Betty is about the tendency to give military hardware and weapons funny and/or cute nicknames.
  • I Call It "Vera" is when someone, for whatever reason, has enough of an emotional attachment to their weapon that they give it a name.