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Trope Distinctions / G to I

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Part 3 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

Gambit Pileup vs. Last Plan Standing vs. Out-Gambitted

  • Gambit Pileup is when lots of different factions and parties have their own agendas for a situation.
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  • Last Plan Standing is the fact that when lots of different plans come together, only one person's plan is likely to actually come to fruition. The other plans may have been destroyed by various factors - each other, internal problems, a Spanner in the Works suddenly ruining everyone's day, etc.
  • Out-Gambitted is when two plans come directly head-to-head, and it turns out one of the parties strategized better than the other and manages to crunch their plan and proceed with their own. This may only be a small part of a larger Gambit Pileup (A outwits B, but still has to deal with C and D), and only results in Last Plan Standing if these were the only plans present/remaining.

Game-Breaker vs. Tier-Induced Scrappy

  • A Game-Breaker is an extremely strong gameplay element that generally outclasses all the alternatives, sometimes making the game trivial.
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  • A High Tier-Induced Scrappy is hated because it's strong enough to be difficult to defeat, and popular enough that nearly everyone uses it. It need not always be a game-breaker; reasonably strong elements can still be hated for popularity.

Generation Xerox vs. Identical Grandson vs. Uncanny Family Resemblance

Genocide Backfire vs. Nice Job Breaking It, Herod!

  • Genocide Backfire occurs when a villain wipes out an entire people in order to prevent an uprising, only to have this act cause the uprising. This can overlap with Nice Job Breaking It, Herod! if the genocide had a specific target.
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  • Nice Job Breaking It, Herod! occurs when a villain targets the person destined to defeat him while he is still too young to protect himself. This can overlap with Genocide Backfire if the villain wipes out the target's entire people to try and get to him.

Gentleman Thief vs Just Like Robin Hood vs. Karmic Thief

  • A Gentleman Thief is a thief who goes about his crimes with style, good manners, and usually a code of honor; that said, he's not necessarily concerned with charity or justice.
  • Someone who's Just Like Robin Hood robs the rich to give to the poor; the emphasis is often as much on improving the lives of the poor and defying unjust authority as it is on daring feats of thievery.
  • A Karmic Thief targets those who he believes deserve to lose what they've got, whether because they stole it themselves or are generally criminal and/or evil. However, unlike the Robin Hoods, they usually keep the loot.

Getting Crap Past the Radar vs. Parental Bonus

  • Getting Crap Past the Radar is specifically an allusion to something not allowed by the ratings board or the higher-ups, typically profane words, sex or violence.
  • A Parental Bonus can be a naughty reference, but can also be a reference to things kids just aren't likely to get, like history, classic literature, or old music.

Ghostapo vs. Stupid Jetpack Hitler vs. We Didn't Start the Führer

  • In Ghostapo the Nazis have supernatural powers or control over a supernatural object.
  • In Stupid Jetpack Hitler they have technology beyond what was actually used by them or even available during WWII.
  • However, in both of the above, they invented or discovered the superior technology or a magical object while being normal humans otherwise. On the other hand, when We Didn't Start the Führer, Hitler and/or the Nazis were, or were created by, some kind of alien or supernatural creature.

Gift-Giving Gaffe vs. My New Gift Is Lame

  • A Gift-Giving Gaffe inadvertently offends the recipient of the gift, often because it's too practical and not fun/romantic enough (e.g. Bob giving Alice a vacuum cleaner) or because it's so far outside the recipient's taste it's obvious the giver didn't put any thought in.
  • My New Gift Is Lame is about someone receiving a present they think is disappointing compared to what others are receiving. It may be a gaffe on the part of the giver, but may also be a way of passing the recipient a useful or valuable object that just looks lame.

Giving Up the Ghost vs. Winged Soul Flies Off at Death

God Is Evil vs. God of Evil vs. Jerkass Gods

  • God Is Evil refers to portraying the supreme deity of a universe as malevolent. It usually applies when there is only one God, but he's evil.
  • God of Evil is a god in a polytheistic pantheon who is responsible for creating, spreading, or ruling over evil in the world.
  • Jerkass Gods are gods with a tendency to be jerks. They enjoy messing with each other or mortals, and can commit evil acts, but are not Gods of Evil if that isn't their job. Virtually every Greek god is a Jerkass God in at least one myth, but none are Gods of Evil. Not even Hades.

Gone Horribly Right vs. Gone Horribly Wrong

  • Gone Horribly Right is when the product/experiment has a bad outcome from doing exactly what was intended, either from going further than the creator(s) thought it would, or because of unforeseen consequences of its purpose.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong is when an unforeseen glitch causes the product/experiment to have a bad outcome.

The Good Guys Always Win vs. Invincible Hero vs. Justice Will Prevail

  • The Good Guys Always Win is the tendency of the good guys to ultimately prevail over evil by the end of the story.
  • An Invincible Hero is victorious not only at the end, but at every intermediate point as well.
  • Justice Will Prevail is when a character believes that good will ultimately prevail over evil.

Good Lawyers, Good Clients vs. Only Bad Guys Call Their Lawyers

  • Good Lawyers, Good Clients is when the show portrays a correlation between the morality of the attorney and the actual guilt or innocence of their clients. It usually relates to a legal case, or to multiple cases if the lawyer is the main character.
  • Only Bad Guys Call Their Lawyers is when someone is assumed to be guilty simply because they've lawyered up, even if their lawyer is good. It usually relates to a criminal investigation.

Good Weapon, Evil Weapon vs. Evil Weapon

  • Good Weapon, Evil Weapon is about how different kinds of weapons are more likely to be used by good or evil people. The weapons just look "good" or "evil" (e.g. a straight sword vs. a Sinister Scimitar) without necessarily having personalities.
  • An Evil Weapon is sentient and evil. It usually also looks like an evil weapon.

Gory Deadly Overkill Title of Fatal Death vs. Mad Lib Thriller Title

Gratuitous Nazis vs. Putting on the Reich vs. Those Wacky Nazis

  • Gratuitous Nazis are Nazis that appear completely out of historical context—it's not any of the fronts of World War II, or even postwar South America but suddenly, the protagonists are fighting Nazis.
  • Putting on the Reich refers to fictional dictatorial regimes which are designed out of universe to resemble Nazi Germany. They don't have to have any intention (or even knowledge) in-universe to do so.
  • Those Wacky Nazis are Nazis which are not entirely out of place, but are not taken very seriously either—the more horrifying aspects are toned down and the more easily ridiculed aspects are played up.

Grave Robbing vs. Robbing the Dead

  • Grave Robbing is about digging up graves or breaking into tombs to steal dead bodies themselves, although occasionally property buried with them is also taken (especially if a long enough time period has passed for grave robbing to become archaeology.)
  • Robbing the Dead is about taking personal property from dead bodies, usually more recently dead (and sometimes killed by the robber themselves, or by their side in a war.)

Greater-Scope Villain vs. The Man Behind the Man

Guide Dang It! vs. Moon Logic Puzzle vs. That One Puzzle

Guy in Back vs Wingman

  • The Guy in Back is a member of the same aircraft crew as the main character, but isn't the pilot or co-pilot (where applicable). He isn't flying the plane.
  • The Wingman is the pilot of another plane altogether.

Guys Are Slobs vs. Men Are Uncultured vs. Men Can't Keep House

  • Guys Are Slobs is about men being boorish, lazy and unhygienic. They certainly can't keep house, but their slobbishness extends beyond that into other areas of their lives.
  • Men Are Uncultured is about men having less interest in high culture like art and the opera, usually to the annoyance of the women in their lives who do like those things. They aren't necessarily complete slobs.
  • Men Can't Keep House is about men failing miserably when tasked with household chores. These men also need not be slobs in every area of their lives and in fact, the trope often plays with the contrast of a man who is competent and put-together at work being mystified by keeping house.

Hail to the Thief vs. "The Villain Sucks" Song

Ham and Cheese vs. Took the Bad Film Seriously vs. Writer Revolt

Hand Wave vs. Justified Trope vs. Lampshade Hanging vs. Voodoo Shark

Happy Ending Override vs. Sequel Reset

  • Sequel Reset is when, after the previous installment had an established ending that gave no room for the story to continue, the sequel comes and everything is undone so the sequel can exist.
  • Happy Ending Override is this when the previous installment had a happy ending, but then the sequel shows that the ending only led to more suffering, or retcons the ending so it was never happy to begin with.

Happy Fun Ball vs. My Little Panzer

  • A Happy Fun Ball is something (not necessarily a toy, but many are) that looks harmless, but has unexpected danger. A beach ball that blows up is a Happy Fun Ball.
  • A My Little Panzer is a child's toy that has functions or parts that make it dangerous. It doesn't even look innocuous. A beach ball that has sharp spikes coming out of it is a My Little Panzer.

Hard Truth Aesop vs. Warp That Aesop

  • A Hard Truth Aesop is when the explicit and intentional lesson provided by a work is against accepted wisdom but isn't invalid.
  • Warp That Aesop is when the audience deliberately makes up a silly or wrong message by taking things out of context or taking a particular situation as a generality.

Harmless Villain vs. Hate Sink vs. Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain vs. Not-So-Harmless Villain vs. Villainy-Free Villain

  • A Harmless Villain is a villain that poses little to no legitimate threat. These villains either don't really want to do anything truly evil or couldn't pose a threat, even if they wanted to. They may very well not be failures and can actually succeed in their plans to the point where the audience doesn't even feel sorry for them. It's just that evil acts are often gags or not very serious in the grand scheme of things.
  • The Hate Sink is the character that's there for you to hate because the main conflict isn't with a human villain (or is with an antagonist you can't hate). May or may not be villainy-free; is usually not "harmless" because if he doesn't meaningfully mistreat or obstruct the heroes he won't be hated.
  • An Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain wants to commit conventionally villainous actions, but is prevented from achieving anything by his own incompetence and often makes you pity them. They can be seen as the Evil Counterpart of the Failure Hero. They're distinct from the Harmless Villain in that they actually could be very dangerous given the chance AND want to be be so. That said, this villain can overlap with the Harmless Villain if the villain is ultimately harmless despite wanting to be dangerous.
  • The Not-So-Harmless Villain is a Harmless Villain or Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain that that steps up their game and proves to be a legitimate and successful threat.
  • A Villainy-Free Villain is an antagonist who has an acceptable goal and legal means, but is presented as such a distasteful person the audience can still hate him.

Have a Nice Death vs. It's a Wonderful Failure vs. Non-Standard Game Over

Head-in-the-Sand Management vs. The Quisling

  • Head-in-the-Sand Management is an authority figure that refuses to address an evil because they are being willfully blind.
  • The Quisling is an authority figure who aids the evil force in controlling his own side.

Heads I Win, Tails You Lose vs I Surrender, Suckers vs Xanatos Gambit

  • Heads I Win, Tails You Lose is when we want to have a boss battle between these characters, and gameplay requires you to win but the plot requires you to lose. So losing in the fight gets a standard Game Over, but winning gets you a cutscene in which your character still gets beat up anyway.
  • I Surrender, Suckers is when a character is defeated and/or captured by their opponent, and so is presumed to be at their mercy. However, being in this position allows the character to still further their agenda in a new, often unexpected way.
  • Xanatos Gambit is when a character's plan accounts for all different outcomes in a favourable way - winning directs us towards Victory Type A, defeat directs us towards Victory Type B.

Head-Turning Beauty vs. Ms. Fanservice

  • Head-Turning Beauty is the character whose attractiveness is designed to distract other characters.
  • Ms. Fanservice is the character whose attractiveness is designed to appeal to the audience.
    • Overlap between these two is unsurprisingly common.

Heel Realization vs. My God, What Have I Done?

  • Heel Realization is more about realizing that you are a bad guy/on the wrong side.
  • My God, What Have I Done? is more about realizing that your actions have had terrible consequences. Naturally, the two can go hand in hand, but this trope can come as much from actions that looked moral or harmless up front but cause damage or pain as from actions that are genuinely immoral up front.

Heroic Fantasy vs. High Fantasy vs. Low Fantasy vs. Standard Fantasy Setting

Heroic Mime vs. The Quiet One vs. Silent Bob vs. The Speechless vs. The Voiceless

  • A Heroic Mime is a Player Character who has almost no instances of spoken dialogue. Although s/he may make plenty of vocalizations and can sometimes have written or implied dialogue, the greatest of his/her vocabulary is often "..."
  • The Quiet One can talk but will only do so to deliver a Whoopi Epiphany Speech or something equally profound.
  • The Speechless is a character who never talks, ever. They might be mute, or simply choose never to talk.
  • Silent Bob is also functionally the Speechless, but he communicates (often very "verbosely") through his body language, especially if it involves facial expressions.
  • The Voiceless can talk, but never does so onscreen. Usually done for laughs with characters commenting on how he's a chatterbox. If The Voiceless ever talks, he becomes The Quiet One.

Hero with an F in Good vs. Token Evil Teammate

  • The Hero with an F in Good is a good guy who often has trouble actually doing the right thing, for whatever reason (vices, personality conflicts with team members, and actually having been evil in the past are good ones). He usually worries about this and tries to get better.
  • The Token Evil Teammate works with good guys, usually for ulterior motives, but is unapologetically evil. They don't ask "why am I so bad at being good" because they don't want to be good in the first place.

Heterosexual Life-Partners vs. Homoerotic Subtext vs. Ho Yay vs. Odd Couple vs. Platonic Life-Partners

  • Heterosexual Life-Partners are two people of the same gender who are inseparable, to the point there may be a "breakup episode" or even withdrawals when they are separated.
  • Homoerotic Subtext is when a work's interactions between characters of the same gender (usually male) have a homosexual subtext, done intentionally by the creator(s).
  • Ho Yay is when fans of a work see interactions between characters of the same gender (usually male) as having a homosexual subtext, whether it's actually there or not.
  • An Odd Couple are two people who are friends but are generally complete opposites, for example a neat freak vs. a slob.
  • Platonic Life-Partners are two people of opposite genders whose friendship has the same closeness as Heterosexual Life-Partners, to the point that people often think of them as actually being in a relationship.

Historical Downgrade vs. Historical Villain Downgrade

  • A Historical Downgrade refers to presenting a historical figure, whether they're known for good or bad things, as a human being with flaws, sometimes to the point of making them a Butt-Monkey or Straw Loser, but sometimes only to the point of making them relatable and contrasting any hero or villain upgrades they had previously received.
  • A Historical Villain Downgrade refers to reducing how evil a historical figure known as a villain appears. They're still described as a bad guy, but facts about some of their specific evil deeds are left out. Usually this is done because these facts would be Nightmare Fuel or otherwise inappropriate for a younger target demographic but the creator still wants to give the demographic some knowledge of the person and their role in history.

Historical Hilarity vs. Historical Person Punchline

  • In Historical Hilarity, a cameo by a historical person is used as a brief gag in itself. The historical person's identity is instantly known to characters and the audience.
  • In a Historical Person Punchline, the historical person's identity is concealed from the audience until a crucial moment, sometimes by their using a different name or no name to the characters, or by their being younger than they were when they actually did their historical deeds. This does not have to be Played for Laughs; it could also be a Wham Line.

Ho Yay vs. Homoerotic Subtext

  • Ho Yay is when something can be interpreted as having homoerotic subtext, but it's unclear as to whether this was intentional or if it's all just in the viewers' heads.
  • Homoerotic Subtext is when the subtext was definitely intended by the creator (and may even be lampshaded).

Homage vs. Shout-Out

  • A Homage is an aspect of a production that directly references something else, whether it be in the designs, character names, or something else that is repeatedly shown.
  • A Shout-Out is is a one-time reference that is not a major aspect of the production, just a quick nod.

Honor Before Reason vs. Lawful Stupid

  • Honor Before Reason is when a character does something detrimental to themselves because it's the right thing to do.
  • Lawful Stupid is when a character does something detrimental to themselves because the rules say they should.
    • Another way to put it is that someone who has Honor Before Reason would give the McGuffin to the Big Bad because he promised. A Lawful Stupid character would work for the Big Bad because said Big Bad managed to become his boss.

Hooked Up Afterwards vs. Maybe Ever After

  • Hooked Up Afterwards is only for secondary characters who are paired off at the end, sometimes despite not having much interaction within the work.
  • Maybe Ever After is when a Romance Arc between any two characters (possibly including the leads) ends with a hint that they hook up, but leaves some ambiguity about the relationship.

How Can Santa Deliver All Those Toys? vs. Santa Ambiguity vs. Santa's Existence Clause

  • With How Can Santa Deliver All Those Toys?, Santa could exist, he could not exist, or it could be left ambiguous; it doesn't matter. The trope comes up any time the question of how Santa works is raised.
  • With Santa Ambiguity, it's never revealed if Santa exists or not.
  • With Santa's Existence Clause, someone starts to doubt Santa's existence and is told he's real, but then it turns out that the person who told the first person Santa is real is actually lying and doesn't believe in Santa. However, it turns out that Santa is real.

Hub Level vs. The Overworld vs. Playable Menu

They're all the places you'll be in before you start playing in the actual stages, and all of them have degrees of size and activity.
  • Hub Level is a small level with entry/teleport points to levels.
  • The Overworld is a large level with its environment directly connected to the more "active" places, common in RPG.
  • Playable Menu is not a level but a menu, with some extra "activity" beyond choosing where to go.

Hyper-Awareness vs. Sherlock Scan

  • Hyper-Awareness is when a character is actively aware of their surroundings at almost all times, and will often point out events that occurred even while they were occupied with something else. Most "Hyper Aware" characters are capable of performing a Sherlock Scan.
  • A character who does a Sherlock Scan is capable of instantly observing minor details and expanding upon them to make broader and accurate inductions about a person or location.

I Am Not Shazam vs. Protagonist Title Fallacy

I Call It "Vera" vs. Named Weapons

  • I Call It "Vera" is when a person, out of attachment or humor, gives a name to their weapon, but the weapon itself is not unique and only known by its name to that person and maybe people who know him.
  • Named Weapons are weapons that are special and whose names are widely known.

I Own This Town vs. Taking Over the Town vs. Take Over the City

  • In I Own This Town a criminal or corrupt official is so influential, they can do/get whatever they want in their territory without fear of consequences.
  • In Taking Over the Town a group of criminals cut off access to a town in order to go on a crime spree.
  • In Take Over the City a villain’s Evil Plan is to usurp control of a specific city, even if they could conceivably Take Over the World instead, or afterwards.

Idiot Ball vs. Idiot Plot vs. Plot-Induced Stupidity vs. What an Idiot!

  • The Idiot Ball is when a singular character behaves uncharacteristically stupidly in order for the plot to go forward at all. The full term is "Who has the idiot ball this week?"
  • An Idiot Plot is when multiple characters pass the ball between them. One character acts stupidly to another character's stupid act and that is what keeps the dramatic tension.
  • Plot-Induced Stupidity is when the plot gets started just fine, but in order to keep dramatic tension a character or multiple characters miss an obvious clue, forget they have a certain superpower or forget they actually had a plan for just such an emergency.
  • What an Idiot! is when a character does something idiotic which doesn't hurt his characterization.

Idiot Ball vs. Lethally Stupid vs. Nobody's That Dumb vs. No One Else Is That Dumb vs. Too Dumb to Live vs. A Tragedy of Impulsiveness vs. What an Idiot! vs. Who Would Be Stupid Enough?:

  • What an Idiot! is a general compendium of characters doing stupid things, or things that there was an alternative available instead that would have caused much less trouble. Part of the emphasis is on the idea that these instances, poorly-handled, can cause a loss of audience respect.
  • Idiot Ball is when competent characters have temporary lapses of sense because the plot requires it.
  • Lethally Stupid is when a character's poor decisions or stupid behaviour put the lives of those around them in jeopardy.
  • Nobody's That Dumb is for characters who acknowledge their own stupidity, but still maintain that even they aren't dumb enough to believe whatever they've just been told or do what they've just been asked to do.
  • No One Else Is That Dumb is a way to confirm a character's identity. If no-one else would give such a ridiculous answer, it must be the party member they split from earlier.
  • Too Dumb to Live is when a character makes a poor decision or does something that endangers their own life, rather than that of someone else.
  • A Tragedy of Impulsiveness is when a character suffers as a result of not having thought through their choices before doing it. So long as it's big enough to be meaningful, this can be great or small, and can be due to whatever reason they may not have thought carefully first - stupidity is just one route to this trope.
  • Who Would Be Stupid Enough? is when a character describes a situation or action, and questions what kind of person would try to do such a stupid thing. Then we cut to either the sight of someone doing it or walking in announcing that they've just finished, because they are exactly the kind of person being hypothetically described before.

If Jesus, Then Aliens vs. No Such Thing as Space Jesus vs. No Such Thing as Wizard Jesus

  • If Jesus, Then Aliens refers to the tendency of belief in Jesus to be associated with belief in aliens — either both beliefs (to show that believers accept anything) or neither (to show that skeptics believe nothing).
  • No Such Thing as Space Jesus is when sci-fi beings with great power are treated as aliens, not as genuine gods.
  • No Such Thing as Wizard Jesus is when the existence of beings as powerful as religious figures doesn't call into question the divine nature of those figures.
    • "Space Jesus" and "Wizard Jesus" mean different things — "Space Jesus" means a being that's in space and divine, and "Wizard Jesus" means a being that's a wizard instead of being divine.

Ignore the Fanservice vs. Not Distracted by the Sexy

I Just Write the Thing vs. Literary Agent Hypothesis vs. Writing by the Seat of Your Pants

  • I Just Write the Thing is a statement by writers that they didn't feel fully in control of how they wrote something, e.g. that they did it because it was the only way to keep the story interesting or they felt like their characters had a mind of their own. They do still admit that the story is fictional, just that it didn't go as planned.
  • Literary Agent Hypothesis is a fan theory where the author is an intermediary between the (real) characters and the audience. Unlike Direct Line to the Author, this has no direct support from Canon or Word of God.
  • Writing by the Seat of Your Pants refers to not having very detailed outlines of where you want the plot to go and making it up as you go along. It may be the style a writer always writes, or it may be dictated by something outside the writer's control going wrong and having to change halfway-through (especially in the case of a TV or movie production, as opposed to something like a book.)

IKEA Erotica vs. Mills and Boon Prose

I Let Gwen Stacy Die vs. Sacrificial Lion

Immortality vs. Made of Iron vs. Nigh-Invulnerability vs. Normally, I Would Be Dead Now

Impoverished Patrician vs. Riches to Rags

  • An Impoverished Patrician is a character type; they're a member of the aristocracy who still has their title (and usually acts and is perceived as a member of the aristocracy), but they or their house lost the money in or before their lifetime.
  • Riches to Rags is more of a plot point; a wealthy character becomes poor during the story. There is some overlap, but people with no titles can still go from Riches to Rags.

Incredibly Lame Pun vs. Just for Pun vs. Stealth Pun

  • An Incredibly Lame Pun is one that's meant to be really bad and pointed out as being such by others.
  • Just for Pun is when a pun is made as part of a page on the wiki to add humor.
  • A Stealth Pun is a joke (usually but not always a pun) whose punchline is left for the audience and/or others in the works to figure out. This sometimes creates a Late to the Punchline situation.

Incurable Cough of Death vs. Soap Opera Disease vs. The Disease That Shall Not Be Named vs. Victorian Novel Disease

  • The Incurable Cough of Death is a vaguely defined illness with few apparent symptoms aside from coughing that will lead to a character's death.
  • A Soap Opera Disease is a vague illness that allows a character to die over a long time and milk the situation for drama.
  • The Disease That Shall Not Be Named is a known disease with known symptoms, but is never referred to directly for reasons of social taboo.
  • Victorian Novel Disease refers to the way that pure-hearted Victorian characters tend to be dying from tuberculosis as the symptoms tie into Victorian concepts of purity.

Indexitis vs. Index Syndrome

  • Indexitis covers pages that are actually about medical conditions.
  • Index Syndrome covers pages whose titles sound like the names of medical conditions.

Infinity -1 Sword vs. Penultimate Weapon

  • The Infinity -1 Sword is a few steps less powerful than the strongest weapons in the game, but it's more readily available. There is no required plot significance.
  • The Penultimate Weapon is hailed in-story as the best in the world, but there are other weapons that outclass it. It may overlap with the above.

Inferred Holocaust vs No Endor Holocaust

  • Inferred Holocaust is a subjective observation where, after finishing the story, the audience may realize or conclude that very bad things are in store based on the circumstances at the end, even though they're not acknowledged in the story itself, which may even end on a Happy Ending note.
  • No Endor Holocaust is when the story (or sometimes Word of God) actually shows/says that the bad effects that might be expected after a potentially catastrophic event, do not occur. Most of the time, it's not even acknowledged they could occur, you just see characters/settings happily chugging along without the expected problems. While it frequently comes up as the result of the climax of the story, any event along the way could prompt this.

In Spite of a Nail vs. Ontological Inertia

  • Contrary to some depictions, changing history might not lead to massive alterations in the new present (whether the protagonist considers this a Close-Enough Timeline is up to them personally).
    • For In Spite of a Nail, the emphasis is that something was changed and had consequences. However, those consequences weren't big enough in scale to massively alter the present. Some stuff changed, but it just absorbed into the general path of history.
    • For Ontological Inertia, the emphasis is that the universe resists change to the timeline - it has ways to ensure that stuff continues to be stuff. This may be active resistance to prevent anything that could change the timeline, but it could also be ways to adjust for the change: A prevented war between nations A and B is replaced by a war between A and C, an object goes missing but a handy replacement is found, a person vanishes but someone of similar skills just happens to turn up around that time to keep things 'right'.

Instrument of Murder vs. Musical Assassin vs. Senseless Violins

  • Instrument of Murder is when a normal weapon is disguised to look like an instrument.
  • Musical Assassin is when the instrument itself can be used as a weapon, and/or the music it produces can be used to attack.
  • Senseless Violins is when a normal weapon is concealed in an instrument case.

Insufferable Genius vs. Too Clever by Half

Insufferable Imbecile vs. Know-Nothing Know-It-All

  • An Insufferable Imbecile is a stupid character who is also rude and arrogant; they refuse to learn from, or acknowledge, their mistakes.
  • A Know-Nothing Know-It-All annoys others by showing off their "knowledge" of completely incorrect or illogical things; they may be polite and amiable if you get them off the subject of Little Known Facts.

Insult Backfire vs. Insult Misfire vs. I Take Offense to That Last One! vs. Wrong Insult Offense vs. Stealth Insult

  • In an Insult Backfire, the intended target doesn't believe that what they've just been called is insulting at all.
  • In an Insult Misfire, the target does believe the words are insulting, but doesn't believe they're the target. They miss the point and defend someone else from the insult.
  • In I Take Offense to That Last One!, a character receives multiple insults, but only really objects to one, usually the least serious one on the list.
  • In Wrong Insult Offense, a character responds to an insult by telling the other person they picked the wrong word to use.
  • A Stealth Insult is hidden so that the target won't realize that he's been insulted.

Intoxication Ensues vs. Mushroom Samba

  • When Intoxication Ensues, a character (un)knowingly ingests drugs and begins acting strangely.
  • In a Mushroom Samba, a character (un)knowingly ingests drugs and begins hallucinating wildly.
    • Overlap is common, but a character in Intoxication Ensues will often react strangely to real-world situations, while a character in a Mushroom Samba may react perfectly rationally to nonexistent stimuli.

Invisibility vs. Invisible Main Character

  • Invisibility: Invisibility as a mostly intentional, stable, recurring superpower, such as a magic ring or potion.
  • Invisible Main Character: Invisibility as a one shot situation, often uncontrolled, and rarely ever mentioned again. Often used to give an actor a vacation.

Ironic Echo vs. Meaningful Echo

  • An Ironic Echo occurs when a prominent line of dialogue is repeated in an ironic context, sometimes changing the meaning to be something opposite, and sometimes showing a character's change of mind.
  • A Meaningful Echo occurs when a minor or easy-to-miss line of dialogue is repeated or alluded to in order to increase the emotional tension of the scene, in order to enhance the meaning the original line already had.

Iron Woobie vs. Stoic Woobie

  • An Iron Woobie is a woobie with enough physical and psychological durability to suffer through anything.
  • A Stoic Woobie is a woobie who never lets the extent of their suffering show.

Isometric Projection vs. Three Quarters View vs. Top-Down View

  • When a house appears on the screen...

It Is Pronounced Tropay vs. Psmith Psyndrome vs. You Say Tomato

  • It Is Pronounced Tropay is about someone wanting their name to be pronounced differently from how it reads, usually because it shares a spelling with an embarrassing or silly word.
  • Psmith Psyndrome is about someone somehow hearing that their name is spelled wrong. If Alice says, "Hi Bob" and Bob says "That's Bobb", it's Psmith Psyndrome.
  • You Say Tomato is about people disagreeing on the pronunciation of a common word. I.E. Alice says "to-MAY-to" and Bob says "to-MAH-to".

It's Not Supposed to Win Oscars vs. Not Screened for Critics

  • In It's Not Supposed to Win Oscars, people (either the work's creator or simply non-snobby fans) defend a work by saying, well, it's not supposed to win Oscars. It may still be entertaining/watchable (in any way from the mindless, but fun, Summer Blockbuster to So Bad, It's Good), but is not conventional Oscar Bait and is getting heat from snobs.
  • A work that is Not Screened for Critics is just that. Critics don't even get a chance to see it before regular audiences. This is usually an indication that it's not only Not Supposed To Win Oscars, but bad enough the creator desperately needs to make some money from unsuspecting audiences before critics warn people off.

It's the Same, Now It Sucks! vs. They Copied It, So It Sucks!

I Want My Jet Pack vs. Magic Floppy Disk vs. Our Graphics Will Suck in the Future vs. Science Marches On vs. Technology Marches On vs. Zeerust vs. Zeerust Canon

  • I Want My Jet Pack is about how a person reacts to futuristic things becoming out of date in real life.
  • Magic Floppy Disk is about inventions that are out of date when the work was made.
  • Our Graphics Will Suck in the Future is specifically about computer displays and graphics in story that are state of the art becoming out of date when a work is seen later.
  • Science Marches On is about science that was state of the art becoming out of date when a work is seen later.
  • Technology Marches On is about inventions that are state of the art becoming out of date when a work is seen later.
  • Zeerust is about something that was originally futuristic becoming out of date when the work is seen later.
  • Zeerust Canon is about something futuristic becoming out of date, as in Zeerust, and later prequels or sequels continuing to use it even though it's out of date.

I Was Never Here vs You Didn't See That

  • I Was Never Here is when a sneaky-type informs you that it's in your better interest to pretend they weren't there, often (though not always) because you'll never be able to prove otherwise.
  • You Didn't See That is when you catch someone at something that they don't want people to know about, and this is their way of telling you to keep quiet.


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