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Trope Distinctions / J to R

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Part 4 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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Jack-of-All-Stats vs. Master of None

  • When a character's strength is that he has no weaknesses, he's the Jack-of-All-Stats.
  • When a character's weakness is that he has no strengths, he's the Master of None.

Joke Item vs. Lethal Joke Item vs. Nerf Arm vs. Not Completely Useless vs. Scrappy Weapon

  • A Joke Item is a useless item which exists for comedic purposes. (In Bomber Bob, Bob fights by throwing bombs at his enemies. One type of bomb he can use is a party popper, which only does 1 point of damage while most other bombs do hundreds.)
  • A Lethal Joke Item is a Joke Item that is actually useful when certain conditions are fulfilled. (If you equip the party hat and eat cake, the party popper's damage is massively boosted.)
  • A Nerf Arm is an item that looks funny, but is just as useful as most other items. (The party popper does as much damage as any of Bob's other bombs, and using it is a valid strategy in most situations.)
  • A Not Completely Useless item is useful only in certain rare situations. Compared to Lethal Joke Item, it's useful in far fewer situations. (One enemy is weakened by festive spirit, and suffers a massive debuff to all stats when hit by the party popper; the popper is terrible otherwise.)
  • A Scrappy Weapon is not meant to be useless, but poor game balance means that no one bothers using it. (Bob can also use incendiary grenades, but they do very weak damage, and most enemies are immune to their Damage Over Time effect, so you'd be better off sticking to the standard frag grenades.)

Jumping the Shark vs. Ruined FOREVER

  • Jumping the Shark is when fans look back over a series that has suffered a decline in quality and identify the turning point where things started to go downhill.
  • Ruined FOREVER is when the latest installment of a series is released and the fans are so unhappy with some element that they issue a knee-jerk declaration that it's a shark jump before anyone can tell if the series is going downhill for sure.

Junk Rare vs. Promotional Powerless Piece of Garbage

Justified Trope vs. Truth in Television


Kick the Dog vs. Poke the Poodle vs. Moral Event Horizon vs. Jumping Off the Slippery Slope

  • Kick the Dog is when an action reminds us who the villain is, and is otherwise pointless: evil for evil's sake.
  • Poke the Poodle is kicking that's nowhere near extreme enough, so that the villain fails at seeming evil.
  • The Moral Event Horizon may be crossed by an action that is or is not a Dog Kick; instead, it is about the sheer moral depravity of the act, to the point that the audience now wants the character who crossed it dead.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope is when a previously-ambiguous character does something clearly villainous, so the hero is free to stop them without debating the morality of the earlier, ambiguous behavior.

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

  • In Kick the Son of a Bitch, a character does something cruel to someone or something else, but that person/thing was dangerous or even evil. The kicker doesn't necessarily know, but the audience often does.
  • In Pay Evil unto Evil, a character deliberately harms someone they know to be evil, in order to stop or avenge their evil deeds.

Kid With The Remote Control vs. Kid with the Leash

  • A Kid With The Remote Control is a person who has complete control over a powerful, and often entirely neutral, entity that only obeys their commands.
  • Kid with the Leash is when the powerful entity is actively malevolent or at least highly destructive when left to its own devices. The kid in this case is not only responsible for directing it but actively keeping it from wreaking havoc.

Kill It with Fire vs. Playing with Fire

Klingon Scientists Get No Respect vs. Square Race, Round Class

  • When Klingon Scientists Get No Respect, what's stopping a character from pursuing a profession is that they come from a society that disdains it; they may be able to do it well.
  • Someone with Square Race, Round Class has actual racial traits that make it seem unlikely they'll perform well in their class, like a giant ninja or elf barbarian. Much more likely in a Role-Playing Game Verse where classes are strictly defined to begin with.

Knight in Sour Armor vs. The Snark Knight

  • A Knight in Sour Armor, so to speak, will fight nobly for a world despite being very cynical about it.
  • The Snark Knight is a person who is snide and sarcastic about everyone because they hold people, him/herself included, to a very high standard.

Knight Templar vs. Well-Intentioned Extremist

Kryptonite Is Everywhere vs Weaksauce Weakness

  • Kryptonite Is Everywhere is when the character has a stated weakness, but for the sake of challenging them, the weakness seems to show up a lot more often than it should. As in, even if the weakness actually is something common, such as fire or yellow-colored objects, it still shows up in places where it doesn't make sense, like every other villainous mook inexplicably using a flamethrower or every other random space monster being canary-yellow.
  • Weaksauce Weakness is simply when the character's weakness is something silly, common, unusual, and/or arbitrary, to the point that you wonder how they could be a threat at all, especially if the weakness is disproportionate to how strong the character is. Both of the above weaknesses would easily count. However, how often the weakness actually shows up or comes into play is not a factor—in fact, in many stories involving an antagonist with one, the Weaksauce Weakness will only come into play in the climax.


The Lad-ette vs. Tomboy

  • A Lad-ette is an adult female who behaves like a rough-and-rowdy guy, and may have been a Tomboy in her youth.
  • A Tomboy is a girl (usually prepubescent) who engages in boy-like behavior and play, and might grow up to be a Ladette.

Leeroy Jenkins vs. Spanner in the Works vs. Unwitting Instigator of Doom

Legacy Character vs. Legacy Immortality vs. The Nth Doctor vs. The Other Darrin vs. Replacement Scrappy vs. Suspiciously Similar Substitute:

  • A Legacy Character is a specific character/role that's filled in-universe by several different people over the course of a work's history for various reasons.
  • Legacy Immortality is when a Legacy Character is perceived in-universe as one immortal character rather than different people taking over a character/role.
  • A Suspiciously Similar Substitute is a new character that has the same role, personality traits, etc. as a previous character that's no longer in the work, for no in-universe reason.
  • The Other Darrin is when a new actor takes over for his/her predecessor as a character, and the change is not explained in-universe.
  • The Nth Doctor is like The Other Darrin, but there's an in-universe explanation for the role change.
  • A Replacement Scrappy is a character that takes the place of another character for whatever reason and becomes disliked by the fanbase as a result.

Life Will Kill You vs. We All Die Someday

  • In Life Will Kill You, someone, usually someone who has had spectacular adventures, actually dies an anticlimactic death.
  • We All Die Someday is about that phrase, or something like it, being said, sometimes as an unhelpful response to a character asking "Am I going to die?" in a specific situation. Nobody actually has to die on screen.

Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My! vs. World of Funny Animals vs. World of Mammals

Literal Metaphor vs. Visual Pun

  • A Literal Metaphor is when something that is normally used as an idiom happens literally. This can be either funny or serious (a Literal Ass-Kissing is funny, but Literally Shattered Lives often aren't) and can happen without a visual component, e.g. in literature.
  • A Visual Pun is when, in visual media such as film, comic books, or animation, something seen on the page/screen can be described with a play on words. This is often just a brief sight gag, and while frequently also a Literal Metaphor (We're combing the desert!) it doesn't have to be and could be a pun on something else.

Long-Runner Tech Marches On vs. Technology Marches On

  • In a case of Technology Marches On, viewers watching an older show are amused to see obsolete technology treated by the characters and setting as "cutting-edge" or even common.
  • Long-Runner Tech Marches On is when this happens In-Universe, because a show was on for so long that what was cutting-edge technology at the time it began became obsolete before it finished.

Losing Your Head vs. Off with His Head!

  • In Losing Your Head, a head is able to think and communicate for some time after being cut off from the body, or is even detachable without violence.
  • Off with His Head! refers to all cases of decapitation in battle or as a form of execution, regardless of what the head does afterwards.

The Lost Lenore vs. The Mourning After

  • The Lost Lenore is any dead character that a living character can't let go of, especially if the living character has questions about the death or feels responsible in any way. They didn't have to be the living character's partner, but their death is always an important influence on the living character.
  • In The Mourning After, one half of an actual couple dies and the widow/widower doesn't start a new relationship, or waits a long time before doing so. This usually indicates their love but they aren't necessarily obsessed with what happened to the dead character (especially if the cause of death was mundane.)

Love Potion vs. Sex Magic

  • Love Potion is using magic to make people want to have sex with you.
  • Sex Magic is magic powered by or otherwise requiring sexual activity.

Luke, I Am Your Father vs. Luke, You Are My Father


MacGuffin vs. Plot Coupon

  • A MacGuffin drives the plot by being something to pursue or keep away from the bad guys. It does not have to actually be found and in some cases may turn out not to exist at all.
  • A Plot Coupon is sought out and "handed in" to resolve resolve/advance the story.

Machine Empathy vs. Technopath

  • A person with Machine Empathy has so much experience with a device or a craft that he notices very subtle differences in its behavior.
  • The Technopath is a person who can control machines with a physical or mental interface.

Made of Iron vs. Super Toughness

  • Made of Iron is when a character is inexplicably durable despite not having a clear durability-boosting power.
  • Super Toughness is an explicit superpower that grants superhuman durability.

Magikarp Power vs. Gathering Steam

  • The key difference here is whether or not the character exhibiting the power can lose it again.
  • If it's permanent, it's Magikarp Power, if it's not, it's very likely Gathering Steam.

Major Injury Underreaction vs. Only a Flesh Wound

Man of Wealth and Taste vs. Wicked Cultured

  • Man of Wealth and Taste is when being evil doesn't stop a character being well-dressed and fashionable. This usually constitutes of very expensive clothing and possessions, which they can afford (often from their ill-gotten gains).
  • Wicked Cultured is when being evil doesn't stop a character being smart and taking an interest in 'fine' subjects like opera, art and academia.

Manchild vs. One of the Kids

  • Both are adults who usually behave like children.
    • A Manchild fails to grow up emotionally and adapt to life in society, and tends to have some sort of antisocial behaviour.
    • Someone who's One of the Kids interacts very often with people noticeably younger and can act their own age, but chooses not to most of the time.

Manly Gay vs. Straight Gay

Marriage Before Romance vs. Perfectly Arranged Marriage

Martial Arts and Crafts vs. Martial Arts for Mundane Purposes

  • Martial Arts and Crafts is about a martial arts style derived from a non-combat skill, for example a school of martial arts based on baking.
  • Martial Arts for Mundane Purposes is about a martial artist using their martial arts skill for a non-combat purpose, for example a karate master using his wood karate-chopping skills to build houses.

Mary Sue vs. its subtypes

  • invoked Mary Sue is the Super-Trope. The exact definition is hard to pin down, but generally speaking, a Mary Sue is an overly-idealized character in a story that exists mainly for the author's Wish Fulfillment and which the audience can easily see as an Author Avatar. Unless the character is a Canon Sue, the story is assumed to be a Fan Fic.
    • An invoked Anti-Sue is a character that's depicted as the polar opposite of typical Sue-ish qualities (extremely ugly, nasty personality, etc.), but is still treated as a Sue by the story.
    • A invoked Black Hole Sue is a character that the story warps around in outrageous ways to make him/her much more plot-central than what would normally happen.
    • A invoked Canon Sue is a canon character that's written as a Sue. Always overlaps with another Sue type.
    • A invoked Copy Cat Sue is when a new character is introduced that is a blatant ripoff of a canon character but is tailored to fit the author's desires.
    • A invoked Dream Sue is when a non-Sue character has Sue-like levels of perfection in his/her dreams.
    • An invoked Einstein Sue is a character that is removed from the current crisis to a lengthy degree for one reason or another but can fix the problem when no one else can.
    • A invoked Fixer Sue is a character that is used to correct what the author feels was wrong with the canon plot.
    • A invoked God-Mode Sue is an extremely overpowered character that breaks Willing Suspension of Disbelief and basically functions as a power fantasy for the author.
    • A invoked Jerk Sue constantly exhibits abusive and/or boorish behavior but is never called on it by the rest of the cast, who see the character as idealized in one way or another.
    • A invoked Lemon Stu is a lemon character who typically is an unrealistically successful/potent lover, and often can warp his partners' desires to match his and get away scot-free with rapacious behavior.
    • invoked Marty Stu is Mary Sue's Spear Counterpart.
    • A invoked Mary Sue Classic is the archetypal Sue character, mainly characterized by perfection in everything and excessive adoration or admiration from other characters. It's especially associated with the invoked Purity Sue type.
    • A Mary Suetopia is a country where life for its citizens is so perfect that it reaches Sue-level credibility stretching.
    • A Mary Tzu is The Chessmaster, The Strategist, and/or a military commander whose plans and schemes constantly succeed no matter the odds or cost, to the point of breaking Willing Suspension of Disbelief.
    • A invoked Neutrality Sue uses his/her moral neutrality as an excuse to literally do anything, with no fear of consequences.
    • A invoked Parody Sue is a character that's deliberately portrayed as a Sue in order to make fun of and/or deconstruct the trope.
    • A invoked Possession Sue is a canon character that's rewritten to match how the author thinks the character should have been portrayed.
    • A invoked Purity Sue is defined by Incorruptible Pure Pureness, is loved by everyone because of this to an unrealistic degree, and saturates the plot with positivity.
    • A invoked Relationship Sue is a character written specifically to create a romantic pairing with another character.
    • A invoked Sympathetic Sue is an unrealistically angsty character who draws sympathy from every character regardless of personality and never addresses his/her angst in a meaningful way.
    • A invoked 30-Sue Pileup happens when multiple characters are deliberately written as Sues of one type or another or can be interpreted as such.
    • A invoked Villain Sue takes the general Wish Fulfillment aspects of a Mary Sue and applies them to an evil character, allowing him/her to run roughshod over heroic characters in unrealistic ways.

May–December Romance vs. December–December Romance vs. Mayfly–December Romance

  • A May–December Romance is a romantic relationship between adults with a significant age gap between them.note 
  • A December–December Romance is a romantic relationship between elderly characters.
  • A Mayfly–December Romance is a romantic relationship where one of the characters has an unnaturally long lifespan; the story at least in part focuses on this character watching his/her partner(s) grow old and die.

Meanwhile, in the Future… vs. Portal to the Past vs. San Dimas Time

  • A Portal to the Past is a permanent portal linking two different times together. Most likely, one hour on one side of the portal equals one hour on the other side, but dilations are possible.
  • In San Dimas Time, the characters behave as if spending an hour in another time means that they will have to return to the point in time that is one hour after when they left. This is not explained or reflected upon, and is probably false.
  • Meanwhile, in the Future… is when the narrator treats two different plot threads in different times as if they were happening simultaneously, despite the fact that the plot thread in the past is going to be resolved long before the thread in the future starts (using chronological time).

Menacing Stroll vs. Ominous Walk vs. Power Walk vs. The Slow Walk vs. Unflinching Walk

  • An Ominous Walk is used to intimidate; showing that one can take their time in beating down the opponent.
  • The Slow Walk is used before a thorough beatdown by the one doing the walking begins.
  • A Power Walk is used to show off the badass-ness of a team, usually the heroes.
  • The Menacing Stroll demonstrates the badass-ness of an individual by their confidence in the midst of looming danger.
  • The Unflinching Walk can be used with any of the above if there's ongoing carnage during the walk.

Mighty Whitey vs. White Man's Burden

  • Mighty Whitey is when a Caucasian hero encounters a foreign culture, and soon becomes the most skilled member of the group.
  • White Man's Burden is a plot where a Caucasian Everyman meets an underprivileged non-white character, then selflessly works to improve that person's lot in life.

Mile-Long Ship vs. Planet Spaceship vs. Starship Luxurious vs. Unnecessarily Large Vessel

Misblamed vs. Never My Fault vs. Scapegoat Creator

  • A Misblamed situation is any one where the wrong person is blamed; they may not be completely innocent of what they're blamed for, but are also not solely responsible. They're blamed for other reasons, sometimes because they have a bad reputation and sometimes because they're simply the most visible person to blame.
  • Scapegoat Creator is a subtrope of Misblamed where the audience blames one creator for a work's flaws even when things go wrong because of Executive Meddling, cast and crew, or other circumstances beyond that person's control.
  • Never My Fault is a personality trait; the person never believes they are to blame for anything even when they clearly are, and finds other people to deflect the blame on or at least says it's nobody's fault.

Moral Dissonance vs. What the Hell, Hero? vs. Values Dissonance

  • Moral Dissonance is when a hero (not already known as a sociopath) acts immorally, jerkishly, or just plain against their character, but other characters don't notice or recognize it that way.
  • What the Hell, Hero? is when moral dissonance is not only noticed and recognized by other characters, but has fallout inside the show.
  • Values Dissonance is when the characters act normally for their culture of origin, but viewers outside the setting don't recognize that as "normal".

Morality Chain vs. Morality Pet

  • A Morality Chain is someone special to the Blood Knight whose strict moral creed is the only thing keeping them from slaughtering everybody. Usually used for the good guys' side.
  • A Morality Pet is someone special to a Jerkass or Blood Knight who presents the opportunity to show some leeway towards heroism or at least peaceful co-existence with heroes and neutrals (and the audience may like the character more). Usually used for the bad guys' side.

Morph Weapon vs. Shapeshifter Weapon

Mundane Wish vs. Wasteful Wishing

  • Mundane Wish is when a character is given a limited number of wishes, and the wisher deliberately chooses something mundane or simple of his own free will. This may occur because the wisher is an honest person who doesn't want or need anything grandiose, or he is Genre Savvy enough to counteract the backfire potential of a literal or Jerkass Genie.
  • Wasteful Wishing is when a character is given a limited number of wishes, but wastes them on something completely frivolous or silly even though he'd prefer something more grandiose. This usually occurs because the person making the wish was goofing around or panicked.

Mundane Utility vs. Not the Intended Use vs. Power Perversion Potential

  • Mundane Utility is when a character uses superhuman abilities or special items to make everyday jobs easier, or for new forms of basic amusement.
  • Not the Intended Use is when players start using elements of a game (video game or otherwise) to achieve things do things the developers never meant for you to do with them.
  • Power Perversion Potential is when a character uses superhuman abilities or special items specifically to enhance their sex lives, be a pervert or other similar functions.

Mundanger vs. Mundangerous vs. Weaksauce Weakness

  • In Mundanger, characters who are normally dealing with the supernatural are suddenly dealing with an enemy or obstacle that isn't. If an Occult Detective faces a normal Serial Killer, it's Mundanger.
  • In Mundangerous, something that isn't supernatural or superpowered is capable of inflicting damage on someone that is. However, it may be something that is still a credible threat, like an accident or a gunshot.
  • Someone with a Weaksauce Weakness is even more unfortunate: a common, lowly object that would not hurt an ordinary person is able to hurt him, usually because of some vaguely-explained side effect of his powerset.

Murder Is the Best Solution vs. Violence Is the Only Option

My Nayme Is vs. Spell My Name with an "S"

  • My Nayme Is deals with names that are intentionally spelled in an unusual fashion.
  • Spell My Name with an "S" involves in-canon inconsistency or fandom disputes about how a character's name is spelled, often due to Romanisation issues but sometimes simply because it isn't included in the work's credits or publicity.

My Significance Sense Is Tingling vs. Spider-Sense vs. A Storm Is Coming


Name's the Same vs. One Steve Limit vs. Planet of Steves

  • Name's the Same is when two characters in different works have the same exact name. Usually a piece of trivia (especially if the names are common enough that combining them without knowing about the other work is likely), though sometimes it's a deliberate Shout-Out.
  • One Steve Limit is about the fact that characters in the same work rarely have the same name, even names that are common like "Steve," unless it's a plot point. When two characters in one work do have the same name, it's an aversion of this trope, not Name's the Same.
  • A Planet of Steves is the opposite of a One Steve Limit: everyone has the same name, or everything is referred to by the same word.

Narnia Time vs. Year Outside, Hour Inside vs. Year Inside, Hour Outside

Narrow Parody vs. Shallow Parody

Negative Continuity vs. Snap Back vs. Status Quo Is God

  • With Negative Continuity, the status quo does change quite a bit, but it has absolutely no effect on further stories.
  • Reset Button is when a story shows a lot of stuff changing, and the status quo could have been permanently disrupted, but near the end, everything goes back to normal for the next installment.
  • Snap Back is when the status quo is seemingly changed for a good while or permanently, yet having those changes undone by the next installment without a logical explanation.
  • Status Quo Is God refers to the tendency of series to avoid doing anything that would cause the status quo to change, or if it does change, to undo those changes as quickly as possible.

Never Given a Name vs. No Name Given

  • A character who was Never Given a Name literally was not named by their parent/creator in-universe. Acquiring a name or title to call themselves is often part of the story.
  • A character with No Name Given just doesn't have their name revealed to the audience; it can usually be assumed that they have one.

Never Grew Up vs. Not Growing Up Sucks vs. Not Allowed to Grow Up

Never My Fault vs. The Unapologetic

  • Never My Fault is when a character never takes responsibility for his/her wrongdoing and believes, or claims, that said wrongs were actually another person's fault.
  • The Unapologetic doesn't try to pass the blame; they know the problem was their fault, but aren't sorry for it for some reason, usually their ego or a belief that they had a good reason for doing it.

Never Say "Die" vs. Nobody Can Die

  • In Never Say "Die", the words "die" and "kill" are never used, even if it's possible for characters to die.
  • In Nobody Can Die, death never actually happens in the work, whether because of explicit immortality or write-arounds like "the firefighters were able to evacuate the building before the Monster of the Week destroyed it."

Nietzsche Wannabe vs. Übermensch

  • An Übermensch is someone who has discarded conventional moral and social restraints and often seeks to elevate himself over humanity or make a better world. Nietzsche's actual philosophy.
  • A Nietzsche Wannabe is someone who takes "life is meaningless" to its ultimate extreme, becoming nihilistic and/or hedonistic and often engaging in wanton destruction to prove his point. The Theme Park Version of Nietzsche's philosophy.

No One Could Survive That! vs. Not Quite Dead vs. Staying Alive

  • No One Could Survive That! is when a character is assumed to be dead, but without adequate proof.
  • Not Quite Dead is when that character is revealed to have survived the incident, often with a good explanation.
  • Staying Alive is when the character dies beyond the shadow of a doubt, and simply returns later, often without a good explanation.

Not Drawn to Scale vs. Artistic License – Engineering

Not Himself vs. OOC Is Serious Business vs. Out-of-Character Alert vs. Out-of-Character Moment

They all act out of character, but unlike Character Derailment, they all have reasons to occur.
  • Not Himself is when a character acts differently to show that there's something wrong with the character him/herself.
  • OOC Is Serious Business is when a character acts differently to show that there's something wrong with the situation.
  • Out-of-Character Alert is when a character deliberately acts differently than usual to alert his close people that something is wrong.
  • Out-of-Character Moment is when acting out of character is a writing crutch, used so the plot can advance (or stall). Related to the "Behavior Ball" tropes such as Villain Ball or Idiot Ball.

Not in My Contract vs. Not What I Signed on For

  • Not in My Contract is when a character refuses to do some task that falls outside his stated job description. It is usually an expression of simple laziness or a ploy to demand additional compensation.
  • Not What I Signed on For is when a character raises an objection after learning that the job or situation is not as originally advertised. It is often motivated by ethical qualms about the newly revealed real mission.

Not Rare Over There vs. Worthless Yellow Rocks

  • Not Rare Over There focuses primarily on an imbalance of rarity; an item that Bob spends a whole lot of time, money and/or effort trying to obtain in Troperville is extremely easy to find in nearby Troperia.
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks focuses on an imbalance of value; something that one culture sees as incredibly valuable is seen by another as worthless. This can, naturally, be a result of the "worthless yellow rock" being common in the area that sees it that way, but some examples of Worthless Yellow Rocks are for other reasons, e.g. a culture doesn't use currency, or a valuable resource is also a species' Weaksauce Weakness.

Notzilla vs. Rent-a-Zilla



One Mario Limit vs. One Steve Limit

  • One Mario Limit is when a name becomes so famous, any other characters with that same name will bring to mind that character.
  • One Steve Limit is when no two characters in a series have similar-sounding names.

One-Winged Angel vs. Sequential Boss vs. Turns Red

  • Sequential Boss is when a boss dramatically changes form, and can usually be regarded as a separate Boss Battle.
  • One-Winged Angel is a special type of Sequential Boss that takes a godlike form, usually reserved for the Big Bad.
  • Turns Red is when a boss or enemy simply becomes more aggressive/difficult when it runs low on health or numbers, often with a visual cue such as a color change.

Only Idiots May Pass vs. Stupidity Is the Only Option vs. Violation of Common Sense

  • Only Idiots May Pass is where the game requires the player to perform an erroneous or unnecessary action despite a better option that should be available, usually because the player isn't expected to use the better option yet.
  • Stupidity Is the Only Option is where the game requires the player to perform a visibly stupid, immoral or illogical action, and then punishes the player for doing it.
  • Violation of Common Sense is where the game requires the player to perform a visibly stupid, immoral or illogical action, and then rewards the player for doing it.

Optional Sexual Encounter vs. Relationship Values vs. Romance Sidequest

Orgasmic Combat vs. Sex Is Violence

  • Orgasmic Combat is when a combat scene begins to sound more like something else.
  • Sex Is Violence is when one or more of the combatants is actually sexually aroused by the fight.

The Other Darrin vs. The Other Marty vs. The Nth Doctor

  • The Other Darrin is when a character has their actor replaced at some point with no in-universe explanation and footage featuring both actors as the character shows up in the final product.
  • The Other Marty is when a character has their actor replaced during production and all the footage of the previous actor is redone with the new actor.
  • The Nth Doctor is when a character has their actor replaced and an in-universe reason is given for the character's sudden change of appearance.

Our Vampires Are Different vs. Vampire Variety Pack vs. Your Vampires Suck

Overly Long Gag vs. Overused Running Gag

Overtook the Manga vs. Overtook the Series

  • 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.
  • Overtook the Series 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.


Palette Swap vs. Underground Monkey

  • A Palette Swap is when a new character in a video game is created by simply changing the color palette of an existing character.
  • Underground Monkeys are new characters that expand a character type or family by making slight changes to a base character's stats and/or appearance, usually noted by adding something descriptive to the existing character's name.

Panda-ing to the Audience vs. Yet Another Baby Panda

Parenthetical Swearing vs. Unusual Euphemism

  • Parenthetical Swearing is when a character says a phrase that, taken out of context and without inflection, would come off as a completely ordinary, sensible, and inoffensive statement, but its context and inflection makes it sound like the speaker is swearing. The speaker will almost always be angry or upset.
  • Unusual Euphemism is when a character says a word or phrase that is meant to replace a swear or "adult" topic, which often makes no sense in context. The speaker need not be angry or upset for an Unusual Euphemism.

Parodied Trope vs. Played for Laughs

  • The Parodied Trope spoofs the concept of the trope. You can tell what it's an analogue of, but it's not quite the same form.
  • A trope that is Played for Laughs carries out the way it normally does, but the way it's presented and/or things that result from it are engineered to be funny/more funny instead of its 'normal' usage.

Platonic Life-Partners vs. Like Brother and Sister vs. Better as Friends vs. Just Friends

  • Platonic Life-Partners are two people who are as close as any married couple, but share no romantic involvement. Often the thought never really crosses their minds.
  • Like Brother and Sister is like the above, but the relationship is more sibling-like and thoughts of romance are put aside because it would feel too weird.
  • Better as Friends is when the two actually have tried dating, but preferred their non-romantic relationship.
  • Just Friends is when any of the above actually do start dating (with the chance that things could loop back around to any of the above tropes).

Plot Tailored to the Party vs. This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman

Politically Active Princess vs. Pretty Princess Powerhouse vs. Rebellious Princess vs. Tomboy Princess

Post-Final Boss vs. Post-Climax Confrontation

  • Post-Climax Confrontation is a story structure where any confrontation the hero might face another threat/opposition after the final threat has been neutralized, and serves only as closure or cleaning up loose ends.
  • Post-Final Boss is the subtrope of the above, when it takes form as a boss after the final boss, that serves only as a closure and is often easier to beat.

The Power of Cheese vs. Too Incompetent to Operate a Blanket

  • The Power of Cheese is the people in a commercial doing stupid, dangerous or crazy things because the product is just that good.
  • Too Incompetent to Operate a Blanket is when the ad attempts to convince the audience that they need the product by showing people having severe difficulty doing the task "the old way"...which usually involves something as simple as a colander, a pair of scissors, or a blanket.

The Power of Cheese vs. Product as Superhero

  • The Power of Cheese refers to advertising showing that wanting the product can cause (or sometimes stop) insane situations. The product is a MacGuffin, not a character.
  • In Product as Superhero, the product is directly anthropomorphized. Household and body cleaning products are most prone to this, as germs and dirt make convenient "villains" for the superheroic product to fight.

The Psycho Rangers vs. Quirky Miniboss Squad

Psycho Supporter vs. Yandere

  • The Psycho Supporter supports another character's opinions and goals because he or she is insane.
  • The Yandere is someone who goes Ax-Crazy over someone they love, or loves because he or she is insane — the clingy jealous person gone violent, if you will.
    • Note that the two tropes may not be mutually exclusive.

Psychotic Smirk vs. Slasher Smile

  • A Psychotic Smirk is a small smile that is usually done with only one side of the mouth, doesn't show teeth, and gives the character an air of smug superiority.
  • A Slasher Smile is a wide, leering grin that shows most or all of the character's teeth and gives them an overtly malicious/insane appearance, or enhances what's already there.

Pun vs. Stealth Pun

  • Pun: Puns in general.
  • Stealth Pun: A pun that isn't explicitly said; you have to put it together yourself.

Puppy Love vs. Toy Ship

  • Puppy Love is when two pre-adolescent characters are in a romantic-type relationship, in-universe.
  • Toy Ship is when two pre-adolescent characters are placed in a romantic-type relationship by the fandom.

Put Them All Out of My Misery vs. Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds

  • Put Them All Out of My Misery is when a character decides that the world has caused them too much pain and/or that the world itself is too inherently sick/evil to be saved or fixed, and thus decides that it needs to be destroyed. The key factor is that it is a calculated decision.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds is when a character snaps in response to some kind of trauma or suffering and lashes out, usually with superpowers, although it can also be done with technology or weaponry. The key factor here is that it is an emotional outburst.


Redundant Parody vs. Spoofing Spoofiness vs. Spoofed the Ironic Film Seriously

  • Redundant Parody is about an element in a work. The creator of a parody thinks they've made a clever joke about the work they're spoofing when the work they're spoofing already had that element. The tone of the original work is irrelevant; it may be serious or funny.
  • Spoofing Spoofiness is more about the tone of both works overall. It's when a work that was already a parody has a parody made of it.
  • Spoofed the Ironic Film Seriously is when you unintentionally Spoof Spoofiness by, well, not realizing the ironic or deconstructive nature your target already has.

Red Shirt vs. Mauve Shirt vs. Sacrificial Lamb vs. Sacrificial Lion

They're all Characters as Device tropes and various grades of Developing Doomed Characters.
  • Red Shirt is nameless guy #13 who dies because they need to kill someone off when they send an away team to the Death World to establish its Death Worldyness.
  • Mauve Shirt is when we learn that the guy is named Bob Bobberson and that he's married and has kids, and maybe he survives a mission or two first.
  • Sacrificial Lamb is when Bob spends at least some time being set up like they're a main character, say the heroes Muggle Best Friend.
  • Sacrificial Lion is an important character with lots of character development in order to make the death more meaningful.

Refitted for Sequel vs. Saved for the Sequel

  • Refitted for Sequel is any element that was supposed to be put in one installment but, for various reasons, end up in its sequel instead. Usually involves development-related stuff, and thus trivia.
  • Saved for the Sequel is specifically a plot point that was supposed to be put in one installment but, for various reasons, end up in its sequel instead. This may be intentional on part of the story (i.e to build up suspense), or not (which makes this overlap with the above).

Reset Button vs. Snapback

  • Reset Button is when a plot point is "reset" onscreen during the course of the story (usually at the end); by the time it's done it's as if that event never happened.
  • Snapback is when a plot point is resolved offscreen; by the time the next episode begins or the story returns to the characters, everything is back to normal.

Ret-Gone vs. Unperson

  • Both of these tropes involve the functional destruction of a person's history; the difference lies in the completeness of this event.
    • A Ret-Gone simply erases the character from history. They don't exist, they never existed, and nothing they did ever happened in the first place.
    • Being Unpersoned involves the destruction or alteration of all records, sometimes up to and including memory alteration, but the person still existed — or perhaps exists — and there may be evidence of this if you're persistent enough.

Romantic Two-Girl Friendship vs. Schoolgirl Lesbians

Rousing Speech vs. He's Back vs. Heroic Resolve vs. "No More Holding Back" Speech vs. Shut Up, Hannibal!


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