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Trope Distinctions / D to F

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Part 2 of the Canonical List of Subtle Trope Distinctions. Items are sorted alphabetically by whichever trope is alphabetically first; if you're looking for one in specific, use the "Find" or "Search" function of your Web browser.

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

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Dead Horse Trope vs. Dead Unicorn Trope vs. Discredited Trope vs. Forgotten Trope vs. Undead Horse Trope

  • Discredited Trope: A trope that is no longer taken seriously by audiences, leading to a decline in straight uses.
  • Dead Horse Trope: A trope that was once played straight, but now parodies and subversions are all you see.
  • Dead Unicorn Trope: A trope that was never actually played straight in the first place, but is treated otherwise like a dead horse trope.
  • Forgotten Trope: A trope that has disappeared entirely from current works, parodies and subversions included.
  • Undead Horse Trope: A trope has been parodied and subverted so thoroughly that it should be a dead horse trope, yet it continues to be played straight frequently.

Dead Person Conversation vs. Mummies at the Dinner Table vs. Of Corpse He's Alive vs. Please Wake Up vs. Talking to the Dead

Deathbringer the Adorable vs. Fluffy the Terrible

  • These usually, but not always, refer to creatures:
    • Deathbringer the Adorable has a name that makes it sound scary and / or dangerous, but is actually very docile.
    • Fluffy the Terrible has a cute / funny / nonsensical name but is actually very dangerous and / or sinister.

Death by Irony vs. Karmic Death vs. Hoist by His Own Petard vs. Self-Disposing Villain.

  • Death by Irony: A character's death (not necessarily a villain's) is ironic, which is not necessarily karmic or their own fault. Super-Trope to the three below.
  • Karmic Death: A character's death (not necessarily a villain's) is the result of bad karma, which is ironic by definition.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: A character suffers some bad consequence of their own making, not necessarily death.
  • Self-Disposing Villain: A villain-specific trope where they cause their own demise so the narrative doesn't require the heroes to kill someone in cold blood.

Death by Sex vs. Out with a Bang

  • Death by Sex: A character participates in sexual intercourse and is subsequently shot to the top of the Sorting Algorithm of Mortality.
  • Out with a Bang: A character dies while participating in sexual intercourse, either because of a heart disorder or other bodily failure, or because they're killed by their partner.

Death by Mocking vs. Do Not Taunt Cthulhu vs. Let's Mock the Monsters

Death of the Hypotenuse vs. Die for Our Ship vs. Murder the Hypotenuse

  • Death of the Hypotenuse is when a romantic rival dies in the story to allow for the "true" couple to get together.
  • Die for Our Ship is an audience reaction in which people who ship these two characters hate that character for being "in the way" of their ship. Writing fanfic in which the character does in fact die is a common expression of this hatred, and the source of the reaction's name.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse is when a character decides to take matters into their own hands and (attempt to) kill their romantic rival directly.

Death of the Old Gods vs. End of an Age vs. Götterdämmerung vs. Here There Were Dragons vs. The Magic Goes Away

Death Seeker vs. Kill Me Now, or Forever Stay Your Hand vs. Please Kill Me If It Satisfies You

Decapitation Required vs. Depleted Phlebotinum Shells vs. Immortal Breaker vs. Mortality Ensues

  • Decapitation Required: The only way to kill a certain monster is to completely detach its most vital organ (or reduce said organ to puree); any 'normal' wound is too easy to recover from.
  • Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: A monster is immune to most things, but has one crippling weakness (eg. silver, moonlight, sunlight, garlic). Weaponising this (eg. Silver Bullet) will kill the monster. Usually has a specific, spelled-out link between the property used and the monster, and tends to defeat one specific type of creature.
  • Immortal Breaker: Through a variety of potential means, a weapon or artefact ignores or supersedes immortality. Usually is equally applicable to all immortals, and is a property of the weapon itself rather than some component of it.
  • Mortality Ensues: An immortal being can have their immortal properties deactivated/removed from them; at this point, they become vulnerable to normal wounds. The indirect way of killing an undying creature.

December–December Romance vs. Grow Old with Me

Decoy Protagonist vs. Supporting Protagonist

  • A Decoy Protagonist appears, for all intents and purposes, to be the main character, until they are forcibly and permanently removed from that role; usually by death.
  • A viewpoint character who retains that role for most or all of the plot, but isn't the one driving said plot, is paired with a Supporting Protagonist.

Deface of the Moon vs. Detonation Moon

  • In Deface of the Moon someone damages the Moon, but doesn't destroy it, usually because people seeing what he's done to the Moon is the point.
  • In Detonation Moon, the Moon does, in fact, blow up.

Defanged Horrors vs. Nightmare Retardant

  • Defanged Horrors are supposed to only be mildly scary, usually to give kids an enjoyable age-appropriate scare rather than something traumatizing. They can be of good quality, just not high-level Nightmare Fuel.
  • Nightmare Retardant is anything that was supposed to be normally scary, but is not of good enough quality to actually scare anybody.

Defictionalization vs. Product Placement vs. The Red Stapler

  • Defictionalization takes place when a fictional product in a media work is turned into a real product in the real world. It is generally pre-planned.
  • The Red Stapler is when the use of a product in a work of fiction creates a demand for the product. The product may be real or fictional, but the effect is almost always unplanned.
  • Product Placement involves real world products being inserted into a work of fiction with the specific purpose of creating a demand for them.

Demonic Spiders vs. Goddamned Bats

Demoted to Dragon vs. Dragon-in-Chief vs. The Man Behind the Man vs. The Man in Front of the Man vs. Dragon Ascendant vs. Dragon with an Agenda vs. Greater-Scope Villain vs. The Starscream

Demoted to Extra vs. Out of Focus

  • Demoted to Extra is when a character was a part of the main cast, but gets shoved off into the background until they might as well not be there. Note that this mainly applies to sequels and adaptations, whereas...
  • Out of Focus is when they lose focus during a season/story arc so that other characters can get spotlight episodes.

Department of Redundancy Department vs. Shaped Like Itself

Depraved Homosexual vs. Sissy Villain

  • A Depraved Homosexual is a bad person who's explicitly interested in their own sex; their misdeeds often actually include sexual harassment or assault.
  • A Sissy Villain is a villain with effeminate characteristics, like wearing pink or having a high-pitched voice. They don't need to demonstrate any sexual interest.

Derailed Fairy Tale vs. Fairy Tale Free-for-All vs. Fractured Fairy Tale

Destructo-Nookie vs. Kiss-Kiss-Slap vs. Slap-Slap-Kiss

  • Two people who're hostile, yet romantically attracted, display both at once.
    • Destructo-Nookie: The couple in question's hostility leads them to trash the area while they're making love. This might involve doing it roughly, or either of the two tropes below making them switch between loving and fighting.
    • Kiss-Kiss-Slap: The couple are showing one another affection when one or both of them suddenly becomes hostile (either because they're confused by the affection, or they remember they have a reason to be angry with each other).
    • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Conversely, while the couple are being hostile, they're suddenly overwhelmed by their feelings for one another and show affection (i.e. they kiss). This and Kiss-Kiss-Slap can "chain" together (as the page images for both show), causing them to flit between flirting and fighting.

Detect Evil vs. Killing Intent

  • Detect Evil is when noticing evil requires an explicit supernatural power. Depending on the precise mechanics of the power it may detect "stereotypically evil energies" rather than evil itself, thus throwing a false positive against Dark Is Not Evil characters.
  • Killing Intent is when evil has a direct physical presence that anyone can notice. While some people may be better at spotting it than others, this is simply a result of sharper senses. It also covers general aggression, and sometimes even the most evil enemy can escape detection simply by not thinking aggressive thoughts.

The Determinator vs. Implacable Man

  • The Determinator is a character who never stops pursuing his goal, no matter how much suffering or sacrifice they take along the way.
  • The Implacable Man is a character who never stops pursuing his goal because he cannot be damaged.

Deus ex Nukina vs. Nuclear Option vs. Nuke 'em

Development Hell vs. Vaporware

  • A work that never seems to be able to be finished. The tropes are distinguished by medium:

Devil in Plain Sight vs. Obvious Judas vs. Obviously Evil

  • A Devil in Plain Sight is a character who's Obviously Evil, or antagonistic, but is trying to hide this from the good guys, causing immense frustration for the audience and usually at least one of the good guys who's trying to expose the Devil in Plain Sight before their evil schemes go off.
  • Obvious Judas is the person who's obviously going to make a Face–Heel Turn, whether it's made obvious to the audience by their appearance or their actions. It's YMMV because the "obvious" part is the audience's opinion — it's not necessarily intended by the writers.
  • Obviously Evil is an umbrella trope for looks and behaviors used to convey to the audience that someone is up to no good. This type of character is often also a Devil in Plain Sight, unless they aren't even trying to hide their evil agenda and are spotted as villains right away.

Die for Our Ship vs. Ship-to-Ship Combat

Diesel Punk vs. Raygun Gothic

  • Raygun Gothic was the predominant aesthetic of science fiction from the Real Life 1920s through the 1950s; these days, it's mainly used for sci-fi that's deliberately trying to be retro. It's a relatively shiny and optimistic vision of the (then-) future.
  • Diesel Punk is Punk Punk fiction set in a fictionalized version of the 1920s to the 1950s. It basically bridges the gap between Steampunk and Cyberpunk. It's a relatively recent genre; the term "dieselpunk" was coined in 2001.

Difficult, but Awesome vs. Lethal Joke Character

Dirty Business vs. My God, What Have I Done?

Direct Line to the Author vs. Literary Agent Hypothesis vs. Recursive Canon vs. A True Story in My Universe

Disc-One Final Boss vs. Starter Villain

Disguised in Drag vs. Harmless Lady Disguise

  • Disguised in Drag is the super trope; it refers to people wearing clothing associated with the opposite gender to disguise themselves for some purpose, often to perform a job or get into an area that's barred to their own gender, but sometimes to hide their identity completely.
  • Harmless Lady Disguise is a subtrope where disguising as a woman, often specifically an old woman, is done in order to appear harmless to potential targets of snooping or worse.

Disposable Vagrant vs. Kill the Poor

  • Disposable Vagrant is when the impoverished are killed or exploited by others because anything that happens to them is unlikely to be noticed by the public or authorities at large; moreover, people targeting them usually have a personal goal to attain (i.e. completing a scientific study or research).
  • Kill the Poor is when the impoverished are killed or exploited simply for being poor; individuals targeting the poor in this scenario deliberately want to eliminate their population.

Dissonant Serenity vs. The Stoic vs. Tranquil Fury

  • Dissonant Serenity is when a character is unnaturally calm, sometimes even happy, when being violent. Insanity is usually involved.
  • Tranquil Fury implies that the character is angry within, but actively controlling and reining in this rage, rather than being outright collected.
  • Both of the above are distinct from The Stoic in that the characters using them will normally display emotions like regular people, but only become chill when a situation is serious. The Stoic is always emotionless.

Distaff Counterpart vs. Gender Bender vs. Gender Flip vs. Opposite-Sex Clone vs. Rule 63

  • A Distaff Counterpart/Spear Counterpart is a character who is based on another character but is of the opposite sex.
  • In Gender Bender, a character changes physical sex in the story.
  • In Gender Flip, the writers base a story on an older one while reversing the characters' sexes.
  • An Opposite-Sex Clone is a character created by an in-story cloning process to be identical to an existing character, but the opposite sex.
  • Rule 63 reverses the physical sex of a character and keeps them in the same universe, as if they were subject to a Gender Bender.

Dog Food Diet vs. Eating Pet Food

  • In Dog Food Diet, a poor person eats pet food because they can't afford proper human food.
  • Eating Pet Food is a subtrope of I Ate WHAT?!, in which a person accidentally eats pet food; they're tricked into doing so or mistake it for something else that's more palatable for human consumption.

A Dog Named "Dog" vs. A Lizard Named "Liz" vs. Race-Name Basis vs. Species Surname

  • A Dog Named "Dog": An animal is named the name of their species, whether it's the same or in a different language (e.g., a dog named "Perro", "Chien", or "Inu").
  • A Lizard Named "Liz": An animal is given a name that is a play on their species name either by sight (a cat named Catherinenote ) or by sound (a horse named Horace), and/or otherwise based on some aspect of the animal (a goose named Honker, a dolphin named Finn, etc.).
  • Species Surname: A Talking, Civilized, or Funny Animal whose last name is their species (Benny Buffalo, Florence Flamingo, Edward Tortoise, etc.).
  • Race-Name Basis: An animal (or other being) is referred to by their species rather than their individual name for whatever — though not necessarily a malicious — reason.

Dolled-Up Installment vs. In Name Only

  • A Dolled-Up Installment is when a production begins as a stand-alone project, then someone makes mention that it has a resemblance to a prior story or franchise. So instead of starting from scratch, they buy the rights and change the current script using the names from the older work.
  • In Name Only is when a production is slated from the beginning to be an adaptation, but the resulting production has only a superficial resemblance to the source material, usually with cries of Adaptation Decay.

Do Not Attempt vs. Don't Try This at Home

  • In Do Not Attempt, words to this effect are used as a disclaimer even in absurd situations, e.g. it's an obvious dramatization you literally can't attempt (or the opposite, it appears even over safe and proper uses of the item.) Most common in advertising.
  • In Don't Try This at Home, the thing really is both extremely risky and quite possible for viewers to try, so they need to cover their asses by telling you not to. Most common in non-fiction and fiction that's Breaking the Fourth Wall.

Don't Fear The Reaper vs. Face Death with Dignity vs. Not Afraid to Die vs. Obi-Wan Moment

Do Wrong, Right vs. Even Evil Has Standards vs. Pragmatic Villainy

  • Even Evil Has Standards is when a villain doesn't do something abhorrent because even he finds it too evil.
  • Pragmatic Villainy is when a villain doesn't do something abhorrent because he knows it's not practical.
  • Do Wrong, Right is when, in the process of doing something abhorrent, someone points out how they're doing it wrong and then offer advice on how to do it properly.

Draco in Leather Pants vs. Evil Is Cool vs. Love to Hate vs. Rooting for the Empire

  • Draco in Leather Pants refers to villains who are attractive being portrayed as less villainous (and often more generically suave and romantic) in Fan Fic.
  • Evil Is Cool is about villains that were created with cool traits, such as snappy dialogue or amazing powers or gadgets. They may cause audience reactions like Draco in Leather Pants or Rooting for the Empire (in fact, the latter's Trope Namer is its Trope Namer because the Empire is cool), but that's not necessarily relevant.
  • Love to Hate is on the other end of the spectrum from the other two tropes; it refers to villains who are entertaining precisely because the audience still sees them as villains. Watching them go about their schemes is fun, but watching them get their comeuppance is even more so.
  • Rooting for the Empire refers to fans identifying with or justifying an evil faction. These fans are less likely to omit antagonistic actions completely than those with Draco in Leather Pants, and more likely to argue that the faction had good reasons for them.

Drowning My Sorrows vs. I Need a Freaking Drink vs. Liquid Courage

Dual Boss vs. Flunky Boss vs. Wolfpack Boss

  • A Dual Boss involves a fight with usually two enemies at once, each one strong enough to be a boss in its own right.
  • A Flunky Boss involves a boss who is accompanied by a group of weaker minions. Defeating the boss will usually end the fight immediately, unlike the other examples where you have to defeat everyone.
  • A Wolfpack Boss involves multiple enemies at once who are stronger than the regular mooks but not strong enough to be a boss in isolation. They make up for their lack of strength by a numbers advantage.

Dull Surprise vs. Flat Joy vs. That Makes Me Feel Angry

  • In Dull Surprise, the actor is speaking too flatly to convey the proper emotion.
  • In Flat Joy, the character is speaking flatly, whether because they're being sarcastic or because they do think what's going on is good but aren't very emotional.
  • In That Makes Me Feel Angry, someone says what they're feeling, with or without the corresponding tone, whether because they have no other way of expressing their feelings, because the person they're talking to has no other way of understanding them, or (similarly to Dull Surprise) because the creator has no other way of describing how the character is feeling.

Dumb Is Good vs. Good Is Dumb

Dumb Is Good vs. Kindhearted Simpleton vs. Redemption Demotion

  • Dumb Is Good is about how dumber people are good to begin with, and serves as a statement for the work itself.
  • Kindhearted Simpleton is about well-meaning, well-intentioned dumb people, without regard to their placement and effect in the work.
  • Redemption Demotion is about someone becoming good and then becoming dumb or less useful.


Early-Bird Boss vs Wake-Up Call Boss vs Warm-Up Boss

All three tropes refer to a Boss Battle early in a video game. This boss...
  • Warm-Up Boss: ...can easily be defeated without the use of advanced techniques and/or a Second Hour Superpower; it's there to test your mastery of the basics.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: ...cannot be defeated (easily) without the use of advanced techniques.
  • Early-Bird Boss: difficult primarily due to not having the Second Hour Superpower just yet.

Earth Drift vs. The Series Has Left Reality

Earth-Shattering Kaboom vs. The End of the World as We Know It

Easily Forgiven vs. "Get Out of Jail Free" Card vs. Karma Houdini

Easy Sex Change vs. Gender Bender vs. Gender Flip

  • Easy Sex Change has the trappings of a "realistic" sex change, but portrays it in a more simplistic manner, often minimizing the physical, psychological, and/or social issues involved.
  • Gender Bender changes a character completely into the opposite sex (usually by magic or Applied Phlebotinum), as if they were born that way to begin with. (A man turned into a woman would be able to get pregnant, etc.) Wholly impossible in Real Life (apart from a few oddities in the animal kingdom).
  • Gender Flip doesn't involve an actual sex change: A character is re-designed, out-of-universe, as the opposite gender of what the audience knew them to be. In-universe, the character actually was born that way to begin with.

Elongating Arm Gag vs. Extendable Arms

  • An Elongating Arm Gag is for when a character extends their arm or other body part in a one-off gag.
  • Extendable Arms are when a character is established to have extending limbs as an ability.

Empathic Weapon vs. Loyal Phlebotinum vs. Only I Can Make It Go

  • An Empathic Weapon has a mind of its own, acting as an ally of the wielder rather than a simple tool. It will generally refuse to work for anyone else.
  • Loyal Phlebotinum is a tool or power that will not activate for anyone but its proper user.
  • Only I Can Make It Go describes a vehicle that will stop running or fail to start in the first place because of subtle quirks that the owner knows how to work around.

Endless Game vs. Game Over vs. Unwinnable

  • An Endless Game is just that — you simply continue playing from level to level until you ultimately lose.
  • A Game Over is the game declaring Exactly What It Says on the Tin: You died, ran out of lives, or failed a mission objective, so your game is over.
  • An Unwinnable situation occurs when something makes it impossible to progress in a game but doesn't result in a Game Over, forcing you to start over yourself.

Enemy Mime vs. Everyone Hates Mimes

Enemy Summoner vs. Flunky Boss vs. Just You, Me, and My GUARDS! vs. Mook Maker

  • An Enemy Summoner is a mook that calls in other mooks. The Summoner is capable of fighting on their own.
  • A Flunky Boss is a boss who fights alongside mooks, whether they come with him at the start or he summoned them.
  • Just You, Me, and My GUARDS! is when what is supposed to be a one-on-one duel is interrupted by one side's troops. The side that has troops may then play Flunky Boss, but they may as well not.
  • Mook Maker is a facility that spawns mooks; usually cannot fight by themselves, sometimes can be destroyed and sometimes not.

Enemy Without vs. Literal Split Personality

  • An Enemy Without is a facet of a character's personality brought out into the physical world.
  • A Literal Split Personality is an entire character split in two.
    • Basic rule of thumb: if you can point to one of the instances of the character and say "that's the original one", it's a case of Enemy Without; if all the copies have an equal claim on being the original, it's a Literal Split Personality.

Engineered Heroics vs. Heroism Addict

  • Engineered Heroics refers to someone faking a dangerous situation so they can "heroically" save the day.
  • A Heroism Addict is a villain who puts people in genuine danger in order to save them.

Epileptic Trees vs. Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory vs. Wild Mass Guessing

  • These all refer to speculation made by the audience about a show, the first two differ based on their subject.

Ethical Slut vs. Good Bad Girl

Even Beggars Won't Choose It vs. Everyone Has Standards

  • Even Beggars Won't Choose It puts focus on the object and its quality, or lack thereof; it's not even fit for people who you'd logically think were in desperate need of something like it.
  • Everyone Has Standards puts focus on the person doing the choosing; they're not rejecting the object, person or course of action just because it's crap, but because it's too evil for them, too embarrassing, or otherwise against their personal guidelines.

Even Better Sequel vs. Surprisingly Improved Sequel

Even the Girls Want Her / Even the Guys Want Him vs. Gay Moment vs. Stupid Sexy Flanders

Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep" vs. No Name Given vs. Only Known By Their Nick Name vs. His Name Really Is "Barkeep"

  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep" is when a character is only known by a term describing their job or some other word. For example, The Mechanist.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname is different in that a character is referred to by any old nickname, as opposed to a word or term that refers exclusively to a person's job or something else that they're known for. Otherwise, it's pretty much the same.
  • No Name Given is when a character may go by title or a nickname, but his actual name is never stated.
  • His Name Really Is "Barkeep" is when what sounds like a nickname, is the character's actual name.

Everyone Is a Tomato vs. Flock of Wolves

  • When Everyone Is a Tomato, high numbers of characters are revealed as hiding, or not knowing, that they belong to some special category in the work, like robots, aliens or members of a Mage Species.
  • A Flock of Wolves is usually about allegiance and can be done with only mundane human groups; it's about someone undercover in an enemy group finding out that everyone, or almost everyone, they're interacting with is also undercover rather than a genuine member of the group.

Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory vs. Everyone Is Satan in Hell

Evil Chancellor vs. Treacherous Advisor

Evil Tainted the Place vs. Fisher King vs Indian Burial Ground vs. Leaking Can of Evil:

  • Evil Tainted the Place means that a location is still affected by something evil that used to live there, even though this original evil is already gone.
  • The land of a Fisher King reflects the mood and/or morality of its ruler.
  • An Indian Burial Ground is haunted by the vengeful spirits of those buried there.
  • An evil being that has been sealed away in a Leaking Can of Evil can still affect the area around it.

Exact Words vs. Loophole Abuse vs. Not the Intended Use

  • Exact Words is based on how you choose to interpret the specific wording of the instructions given (eg. 'I have brought you the king's head as requested. However, it is still attached to the rest of his body').
  • Loophole Abuse is based on spotting gaps between the rules that they didn't think to make a rule for ('You'll never be able to meet your contact if you're under house arrest.' 'What if I invite him round? I won't have to leave.')
  • Not the Intended Use is based on doing something that is perfectly allowed by the rules, but in a way or to achieve a purpose that it was clearly not designed to ('I cast Summon Bigger Fish into the space directly above the enemy's head').

Exalted Torturer vs. Torture Technician

Example as a Thesis vs. Self-Demonstrating Article

  • These both refer to ways of writing trope pages...and neither is encouraged.
    • Example as a Thesis is when an article opens with a generic story describing an example of the trope in action, then proceeds with the actual definition second and examples third.
    • A Self-Demonstrating Article is written in such a way that it's intended to be an example of its own trope.

Exaggerated Trope vs. Logical Extreme

Expansion Pack Past vs. Multiple-Choice Past vs. Mysterious Past

  • Expansion Pack Past is when a character has a very complicated, convoluted and improbable backstory, usually due to writers making many Flashbacks to describe his past, and making those as they please.
  • Multiple-Choice Past is when those backstories are so many and so absurd, that they eventually contradict each other, though this can be intentional, hinting the character has a bad memory, is crazy, or is just lying.
  • Mysterious Past is when information about this character's past is very scarce and vague.

Expository Hairstyle Change vs. Good Hair, Evil Hair vs. Important Haircut

Expository Gameplay Limitation vs. Injured Player Character Stage

  • Expository Gameplay Limitation is when the player's abilities in a video game are significantly but temporarily curtailed in order to better focus the player's attention on narrative exposition.
  • Injured Player Character Stage is when the player's abilities in a video game are significantly but temporarily curtailed because the player character was injured or damaged as part of the game's storyline.

Expospeak Gag vs. Layman's Terms

  • An Expospeak Gag is about complex ways of expressing simple concepts.
  • Layman's Terms is about attempts to simplify complex statements or concepts.


Face–Heel Turn vs. Protagonist Journey to Villain vs. Start of Darkness

Face of the Band vs. I Am the Band

  • The Face of the Band is the only member of a particular band who's sufficiently famous to be recognized individually by the general public, regardless of his/her role within the band.
  • I Am the Band is when one individual plays such a prominent role in a band's creative output and musical direction that the other members are largely irrelevant.

Failed Attempt at Drama vs. Narm

  • A Failed Attempt at Drama is a failed attempt by a character to be dramatic; the failure is often noted by other characters, or shown to be a failure by subsequent events.
  • Narm is a failed attempt by creators to make a moment serious for the audience; it has any number of causes, including bad writing, bad (or not enough) acting, and/or bad special effects. Narm is often not noted by characters; they take the moment perfectly seriously.

Failure Hero vs. Invincible Hero vs. Showy Invincible Hero

  • A Failure Hero is a character who never accomplishes his/her goals, whether through personal failures or other elements of the story seemingly conspiring to foil the character.
  • An Invincible Hero is a character who always accomplishes his/her goals with relative ease, to the point that it's impossible to build drama around the character.
  • A Showy Invincible Hero is one whose exploits are built around Rule of Cool, and the point of the work is to show this in full effect.

Fake Nationality vs. Fauxreigner

  • Fake Nationality (and its subtropes like Fake Brit) is about an actor playing a character from a country they're not really from; the character within the story is intended to be from the stated country.
  • Fauxreigner is a character who's stated within the work to be pretending to be from a different country than the one they're currently in, usually to hide their true personality or motives.

Fake Shemp vs. The Nth Doctor vs. The Other Darrin vs. The Other Marty vs. Suspiciously Similar Substitute

Fake Ultimate Hero vs. Miles Gloriosus vs. Engineered Heroics

  • The Fake Ultimate Hero is anyone who gets credit for at least one heroic act which they did not do.
  • The Miles Gloriosus is a Fake Ultimate Hero who actively claims credit for lots of heroic behavior, but when put to the test is always a Dirty Coward.
  • Engineered Heroics is when this character goes further by causing the disasters, problems and fake crimes in the first place so he can solve them and get the fame.

The Family for the Whole Family vs. Neighborhood-Friendly Gangsters vs. Stupid Crooks

  • The Family for the Whole Family are gangsters that are really incompetent, so that gangster tropes can be used (or parodied) in a family-friendly work without anyone getting seriously hurt.
  • Neighborhood-Friendly Gangsters can and do pull serious crimes off, but refrain from harming their home neighborhood or even try to protect or improve it.
  • Stupid Crooks are incompetent criminals that are easily outsmarted by investigators or potential targets; unlike The Family for the Whole Family, they do sometimes appear in mature works and can kill or maim people, even if they're such bungling idiots they get caught right away.

Family-Values Villain vs. Straight Edge Evil

  • Family-Values Villain is about a villain whose actual motivation is enforcing a rigid sense of "family values" onto others; they're commonly a very religious person and a Heteronormative Crusader.
  • Straight Edge Evil is about a villain who lacks vices personally, with an emphasis on avoiding alcohol and drugs. However, they may not be interested in enforcing their abstinence on others; it may be a quirk while their reason for villainy is different.

Family Versus Career vs. Never a Self-Made Woman

  • In Family Versus Career, a woman with a family and a career is forced to choose between the two, usually in favor of the former and with the implication that that is what a woman should choose.
  • In Never a Self-Made Woman, whether or not a woman gives up her career is unimportant. This trope is about female characters always being less important than their lovers, brothers and fathers, and how women as a whole are unable to achieve anything of worth without the help of a man, except homemaking.

Famous Ancestor vs. Historical Character's Fictional Relative vs. History with Celebrity

  • When a character has a Famous Ancestor, the ancestor has to be famous In-Universe, but can be a fictional character themselves.
  • Historical Character's Fictional Relative has to be a relative of a person who really did/does exist in our world (but not only a descendant; the characters can be alive at the same time.)
  • In History with Celebrity a character knows, but is not necessarily related to, a celebrity who appears on the show As Himself (or is mentioned as himself). It's the difference between Bill Murray playing Bob's old roommate Joe Schmo, and Bob's old roommate being Bill Murray.

Fan-Disliked Explanation vs. The Unreveal vs. Voodoo Shark

Fan Disservice vs. Fetish Retardant

Fanfic vs. Fan Works

  • Fanfic is specifically that subset of Fan Works which is based primarily in text — in other words, fan works that are also Literature.
  • Fan Works are all works based on an intellectual property owned by someone other than the fan work's author, regardless of medium. For this wiki's purposes, that means derivative works based on something in the Public Domain don't count — even if the work's author might disagree with that.

Fantastic Aesop vs. Space Whale Aesop

  • The Fantastic Aesop suggests a fantastic course of action ("don't use black magic to try and resurrect the dead") which can't even be attempted in the real world.
  • The Space Whale Aesop suggests a real, viable course of action ("don't perform nuclear tests") by presenting fantastic consequences ("radiation from the tests will awaken an army of zombies").

Fantastic Drug vs. G-Rated Drug vs. I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin!

Fembot vs. Robot Girl

A Fête Worse than Death vs. Nasty Party

  • A Fête Worse than Death is a town-wide festival or ritual where the celebration revolves around someone being hurt or killed.
  • A Nasty Party is a party held by a private individual as an Evil Plan to kill the people attending.

Fighting Clown vs. Joke Character vs. Lethal Joke Character

Filler vs. Padding vs. Wacky Wayside Tribe

  • Filler is taking a Myth Arc-based series and interweaving additional stories that ultimately do not influence the Myth Arc. Sometimes, no one ever references the filler material because it was that unimportant.
  • Padding is when the normal story is slowed down to a crawl. No side stories are given but characters might just have a long conversation before they actually get anything accomplished.
  • Wacky Wayside Tribe is when you are in the midst of the main story when troublesome, unfortunate and unrelated things happen just to give the characters a harder time.

The Film of the Book vs. The Movie vs. The Show of the Books vs. Novelization

The Film of the Series vs. The Movie vs. Non-Serial Movie

First-Episode Twist vs. It Was His Sled vs. Late-Arrival Spoiler

  • First-Episode Twist: The twist starts the series and as such is impossible to explain the series without spoiling it.
  • It Was His Sled refers to any work which features a twist that was truly shocking when it was first presented, but over time lost its ability to surprise because it gets talked about too much.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler is a fandom-specific variety of this in which promotional material for new installments of a franchise give away major plot developments of past installments, assuming that fans are already familiar with them.

Flashback B-Plot vs. Framing Device

  • Flashback B-Plot: A secondary story involving the same character(s) is told in flashbacks alongside the main story, but no one is narrating it.
  • Framing Device: The majority of a story takes place within a character's narration which is occasionally paused or interrupted by other characters.

Flatline Plotline vs. Revival Loophole

  • A Flatline Plotline is about people briefly "dying" so they can experience death.
  • The Revival Loophole occurs when people briefly "die" to fulfill some condition that would otherwise require an actual death.

Flip-Flop of God vs. Shrug of God vs. The Walrus Was Paul vs. Word Of God

  • Flip-Flop of God is when a creator's information about a work contradicts itself. This may or may not be deliberate.
  • Shrug of God is when a creator's information about a work is evasive and/or ambiguous. This can be for a wide variety of reasons.
  • The Walrus Was Paul is when a creator gives an intentionally confusing or meaningless answer regarding their work, typically because they don't believe a "correct" answer does or should exist.
  • Word Of God is information straight from one or more of a work's creators about facets of the work that might not have appeared or been made clear.

Fluffy the Terrible vs. Killer Rabbit

Flying Dutchman vs. Walking the Earth

  • A Flying Dutchman is where someone is forced to roam aimlessly for the remainder of their time in the world.
  • Walking the Earth is when someone chooses to roam the world with no specific place they view as their home.

Foil vs. Mirror Character

  • Foil characters highlight each other's character traits by contrast and differences.
  • Mirror Characters highlight each other's character traits by similarities and parallels.

Forced Transformation vs. Transformation Horror

Forgotten Phlebotinum vs. Holding Back the Phlebotinum vs. It Only Works Once vs. Plot-Induced Stupidity

  • Forgotten Phlebotinum: They introduced a gimmick in one story, and could have used it later, but they forgot to.
  • Holding Back the Phlebotinum: They introduced a gimmick in one story, and could have used it later, but there's some reason why they can't use it.
  • It Only Works Once: They introduced a gimmick in one story, and could have used it later, but they explained that it doesn't work any more.
  • Plot-Induced Stupidity: A standard ability of the character could have been used, but they forgot to.

For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself vs. Your Costume Needs Work

Formally-Named Pet vs. Mister Muffykins

  • Formally-Named Pet is about the literal name of the pet; it's a pet whose name includes Mister/Miss/another title. The pet can be any species, though is most often a dog or cat.
  • Mister Muffykins is about the pet's characterization. A Mister Muffykins is a small, pampered, yappy dog that annoys everyone but its owner.

Fortune Teller vs. Phony Psychic

  • A Fortune Teller may or may not have real psychic powers, but either way she makes money by telling fortunes as a form of paid entertainment; you pay her a fee to have your fortune read, regardless of what she tells you. They don't necessarily offer instant solutions or involve themselves in customers' lives for gain.
  • A Phony Psychic never has real powers, and makes their money by actively scamming other people out of theirs with tales about how the psychic powers can find them love, make them rich or solve other problems. Depending on how they approach marks, there may be an overlap with Fortune Teller (e.g. "I see money in your future, but you'll have to come back and pay me again to learn where it is"), but there doesn't have to be.

Four Lines, All Waiting vs. Third Line, Some Waiting vs. Trapped by Mountain Lions vs. Two Lines, No Waiting

  • Four Lines, All Waiting: Several disjoint plots alternate within a single work.
  • Third Line, Some Waiting: Like above, plus a very minor yet distinct plotline that doesn't become important until much later, if at all.
  • Trapped by Mountain Lions: Like above, but the additional plotline most definitely has nothing to do with the main plot.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: Several plotlines link together into one major plot.
    • The respective trope names are in no way indicative of the actual number of plotlines in any given example.

Fourth Wall Myopia vs. Opinion Myopia vs. Wrong Genre Savvy vs. Genre Blindness

  • All of these tropes deal with a myopia, and overlap can happen but the circumstances where the behaviour is applied changes in each scenario.
    • Fourth Wall Myopia: The audience expects the characters to react as if they're fully aware that they're in a fictional work and they should be aware of how to act in the situations created by the author, or alternatively to act on information that the audience is aware of, but the characters have no way to know just yet.
    • Opinion Myopia is when someone, usually a certain group or individuals in the audience, seems appalled that people don't hold an opinion that they uphold as a fact, rather than, well an opinion.
    • Wrong Genre Savvy: A character or group of characters try to apply knowledge obtained from fictional works into similar situations they find in their lives, except that as it turns out they are in a different story genre.
    • Genre Blindness: The character makes ALL the common mistakes that are known in their story genre they're in, despite some of them being common sense.

Fragile Speedster vs. Glass Cannon vs. Squishy Wizard vs The Medic

  • A Fragile Speedster can't take punishment, but is (supposed to be) fast enough to avoid it.
  • A Glass Cannon can't take punishment, but can dish it out.
  • A Squishy Wizard can't take punishment, but has supernatural powers that gives it attack power and/or utilitarian abilities to help it out.
  • The Medic is not geared toward combat, but can heal up the allies who are.

Franchise Zombie vs. Post-Script Season vs. Uncancelled

  • Franchise Zombie is when the work isn't supposed to have any continuation because the creator intends to stop, and then gets continued anyway, often without the creator's involvement.
  • Post-Script Season is when the work has wrapped its Myth Arc and overarching plot, and yet a new installment of it is made, usually without addressing any of the plot of the previous.
  • Uncancelled is when a show is officially cancelled (usually not an intended part of the creator) and then gets continued.

Frivolous Lawsuit vs. Hilarity Sues

  • A Frivolous Lawsuit is when someone sues for something that, for whatever reason, is viewed as frivolous, like something they caused themselves by being Too Dumb to Live, or an "injury" that's too small for the amount they want, or completely unquantifiable.
  • Hilarity Sues is more about the comedy of putting superheroes/villains in a mundane court setting by having someone sue them; these suits are not necessarily frivolous (after all, if the hero and villain bust up your building you have real damages), but are juxtaposed with the larger-than-life nature of supers.

From Nobody to Nightmare vs. Magikarp Power vs. Malignant Plot Tumor vs. Not-So-Harmless Villain

  • From Nobody to Nightmare is when a character, through a series of events/coincidences, goes from being a small, unimportant figure to being extremely powerful and commanding of everyone's fear.
  • Magikarp Power is when someone/something may be perfectly well-known, but starts off weak, unimpressive and generally useless. However, after putting a lot of work into them, often from other characters, they start becoming a lot stronger and likely overtake their previous superiors.
  • Malignant Plot Tumor is when a villain is shown early on doing small-scale villainous things, staying out of the limelight. Declaring what all their actions are leading toward is optional. As such, the heroes ignore them for the villain that poses a bigger threat to them at the moment. Then, at the end, the small-timer's plan comes to fruition and then they are the bigger threat suddenly.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain is when a villain is shown early trying to evil but either failing at it or doing it in such a silly way that no-one takes them seriously. Later, though, they show up again and they've got a lot better at their job.

Full-Circle Revolution vs. Meet the New Boss

Full-Circle Revolution vs. Reign of Terror

  • Both deal with revolutions against an established government.
    • Reign of Terror is when, after a revolution occurs, the new regime becomes tyrannical and bloodthirsty.
    • A Full-Circle Revolution is when a revolution replicates the conditions that incited the revolution in the first place.

Funbag Airbag vs. Marshmallow Hell vs. Thanks for the Mammary

  • Funbag Airbag is an accidental collision between a well-endowed woman and someone else, which often ends up with the other character's head smushed between the woman's boobs or a noticeable rebound effect.
  • Marshmallow Hell is when a well-endowed woman hugs another person and (un)intentionally smushes their head between her boobs.
  • Thanks for the Mammary is when someone accidentally gropes or touches a woman's breasts, not necessarily involving their head.

Functional Genre Savvy vs. Genre Savvy vs. Medium Awareness vs. Wrong Genre Savvy

Harsher in Hindsight vs. Hilarious in Hindsight vs. Narm

  • Harsher in Hindsight is when something originally intended as being funny, lighthearted or heartwarming makes people uncomfortable when seen in reruns or looked back upon, because of tragic later events in the series or in real life, or alternatively, when later events cause a scene that was already dark and disturbing to become even more so.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight is when later events (in the fiction or in real life) cause a scene to be even funnier than it previously was.
  • Narm is when a scene that wasn't intended to be funny ends up being perceived that way for whatever reason.