Karma HoudiniBig Lipped Alligator MomentExactly What It Says On The TinComplete MonsterNightmare Fuel
Limited WardrobeNo Celebrities Were HarmedEvil LaughHeterosexual Life PartnersThe Dragon
What Measure Is A Non HumanOne Scene WonderActor AllusionBeware The Nice OnesBad Ass Normal
Butt MonkeyBerserk ButtonDoes This Remind You Of Anything?Painting The Fourth WallBig Damn Heroes
Chekhov's GunSoundtrack DissonanceTook A Level In BadassTitle DropCatch Phrase
Karma Houdini
He's kicked the hero's dog, abducted his family and held them hostage, abused the most sympathetic of his Woobie minions, killed off the series' most popular Ensemble Darkhorse and invented a Kill Sat that uses babies as its primary fuel, not to mention jaywalking in front of a bus full of nuns. He's done just about every conceivable thing that would make an audience boo, hiss and hate him with th ...
Big Lipped Alligator Moment
Sometimes in a work or film, the writers will try to inject a sense of spontaneity into their work by giving the viewer a scene that seems a little out-of-place, but at least still generally ties into the plot of their work without breaking the flow. Some writers forget to tie it to the work entirely, creating a moment of the Ultimate Nonsequitur. From this, a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment is forme ...
Exactly What It Says On The Tin
A title should tell you what a movie, show, or episode of a show is about. Sometimes, though, the premise or plot of the story is all right there in the title. That's when you can say that the story is Exactly What It Says On The Tin. Thus, this trope. The names of action shows designed for children tend to have this as a distinguishing feature, as do most pornographic films, but it certainly does ...
Complete Monster
Sometimes a villain is not more 'fun' to watch than the heroes. Sometimes a villain isn't entertaining at all. These are villains whose horrific actions earn our rightful disgust, anger and hatred. These evil characters frequently believe life is all about them, lack any understanding of empathy or morality, and even more often simply do it for fun. This is it. The end of the line for evil and evi ...
Nightmare Fuel
Fourteen year old kids pilot that thing. No, really. Nightmare Fuel, as we mean it here, are those things that scared the pants off you as a kid, though it wasn't meant to: something that was meant to either amuse, entertain, or be only slightly scary to the audience. In execution, they're so trauma-inducing that they may cause even adults to void themselves in terror. For young children, media ca ...
Limited Wardrobe
The character always wears the same outfit, regardless of the setting or season. Winter (or at least a Christmas episode) may sometimes see the addition of a heavy coat, but circumstances will conspire to put the character in a situation where they must shed the coat, at which point it is never seen again. Even characters whose very nature should prevent them from having such a Limited Wardrobe (r ...
No Celebrities Were Harmed
Sometimes, when an animation studio is out of ideas, a cartoon character's entire shtick will be that he or she is a thinly disguised imitation of some celebrity somewhere. The more blatant examples will often have a parody of that celebrity's name. The most common impressions to hear in cartoons are Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone for tough-guy characters, Peter Lorre for creepy char ...
Evil Laugh
You know you're in trouble when their laughter begins with 'Nya'. Your Applied Phlebotinum doomsday device has been activated. The MacGuffin is within your grasp. The good guys are locked away in the Death Trap. Your circuitous Evil Plan is three-quarters complete! You know what, screw being the Evil Overlord of the world - you're already a god. There is only one thing left for you to do - but fir ...
Heterosexual Life Partners
Two extremely close friends or partners, both the same gender, who spend an 'excessive' amount of time together on and off the job. So excessive that they might as well be a couple. Note that there is no official evidence whatsoever that they're romantically linked, but they might suffer withdrawals from not being around each other. There might even be a 'break-up' episode. If they are life-long f ...
The Dragon
No, *I* am your trope picture!. In classic Fairy Tales and folklore, the hero must often slay a dragon, or other semi-intelligent monster, before he can confront the intelligent (but weaker) master villain. The Dragon is the Big Bad's top enforcer, and is correspondingly dangerous in combat. Some Dragons are ferocious fighters who leave the heavy thinking to the boss. Others are smart, detail-orie ...
What Measure Is A Non Human
Proposed alternate measure: Will it blend? There is an invisible value placed on the existence of non-human characters in fiction, compared to the value of the life of a human. Killing/destroying one may or may not be the same thing as killing a human. The difference between Not Even Human on one end of the scale and Not Quite Human on the other can be a fine one, and where a series chooses to dr ...
One Scene Wonder
A character that has limited screen time, and usually not much in the way of plot relevance, but is still one of the most memorable things in the movie. They may even be given top billing, or at least an 'And Starring' credit, along with the more obvious stars. This is not the same principle as Ensemble Darkhorse, because the character is often played by an established actor, nor is it the same as ...
Actor Allusion
An Actor Allusion is a joke or reference which is specific to one of the actors in a television show. It can be a little blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, such as Mary Albright (Jane Curtin) spotting some people in Conehead costumes at a sci-fi convention in Third Rock From The Sun, or it can be bigger and more blatant, such as when John Lithgow repeated his entire anti-music rant from Footloose in ...
Beware The Nice Ones
Sometimes, trying to Break The Cutie can have consequences. Sometimes, the nicest person in the story gets pushed to the limit of what they can take and the results... are not pretty. The sweeter, gentler, more polite, and overall nicer a character is, especially if they're female, the worse it will be for the planet when they're subjected to one too many rounds of Break The Cutie, or Dude Wheres ...
Bad Ass Normal
In a world with supernatural dealings or superpowers, this character is the one who is able to keep being useful through intellect, martial arts abilities, general ruthlessness, or just being Crazy Prepared. They notably have none of the fantastic enhancements, magic or special powers that others do. It might even be a sore point for them, but that just makes us encourage them more. Female version ...
Butt Monkey
The character who is always the butt of the demeaning joke or the 'put him through hell' plotline. Nothing ever goes right for this character, he's constantly abused by pretty much everyone he knows, even his so-called friends, and if something bad is going to happen to someone, chances are, it's going to be him. Long story short, it sucks to be the Butt Monkey. The Butt Monkey generally doesn't d ...
Berserk Button
So you're dealing with a character who seems perfectly normal. He's friendly, sociable, and well-adjusted, saving stray kittens and helping old ladies cross the street on the way to his day job of working at a soup kitchen. But then you make a mistake. You happen to mention in passing what you think is a fairly innocuous observation, maybe pointing out that the character could stand to lose a litt ...
Does This Remind You Of Anything?
Any situation which is made, for comic effect, to look like another situation — not in the sense that it is mistaken for that other situation by any of the characters, just in the sense that we the audience see the resemblance. The characters do not. This sort of situation can lead to a Three Is Company plot if some other character hears it out of context. Alternatively it can refer to an ersatz ...
Painting The Fourth Wall
Any author, sooner or later, has to acknowledge the limitations of the medium in which the story is being told. Some, however, are known to use the media creatively. Essentially, Painting The Fourth Wall refers to using metafictional devices, such as fonts and text position in a book or UI changes in a video game, to indirectly convey a particular story-related message by deliberately breaking the ...
Big Damn Heroes
The poor Damsel In Distress is looking her fate dead in the face, and is resigned to it, because she knows that Nothing Can Save Us Now... and then, boom! Here come the heroes. 'Sorry I'm Late!' Big Damn Heroes is the heroic swoop to save the day just in the nick of time. Generally this is because the heroes had to fight through a swarm of baddies, or had to figure out just where their friends ar ...
Chekhov's Gun
Chekhov's Gun is the literary technique whereby an element is introduced early in the story whose significance does not become clear until later on. For example, a character may find a mysterious necklace that turns out to be the power source to the Doomsday Device, but at the time of finding the object it does not seem to be important. Although many people consider the phrase 'Chekhov's gun' to b ...
Soundtrack Dissonance
So you're a big-time Hollywood director. (Congrats on that, by the way.) You've got a dynamite action movie you're about to start shooting. It won't win you an Oscar, but hey, you've got two of those, and any way, your mortgage payments are becoming somewhat uncomfortable. Keanu Reeves has signed on to be your hero/messiah figure, and Seth Green will be the annoying/lovable comic relief. Best of a ...
Took A Level In Badass
So you're flipping channels looking for something to watch and you come across a battle scene in a familiar show. One character in particular is making a very good showing, doing at least as much as the main character to save the day. But who is this mysterious Badass Longcoat? Did you miss the episode where they were introduced? Why the nagging feeling of familiarity? And then it hits — you kno ...
Title Drop
If a line of dialogue is the title of the episode, movie, or book, it obviously must have some great significance. If it sounds completely random, that just means the true meaning of the title has yet to be revealed. So when a character is heard using the title in dialogue, the audience sits up and takes notice, because the scriptwriter has just planted a neon sign that flashes THIS CONVERSATION I ...
Catch Phrase
An expression used by a character in numerous episodes of a show. Merely uttering this phrase in the office will key others in to the character you're referring to. For a line to be a Catch Phrase, it should be always the same, and not just catchy. Two like-minded characters can form a Catch Phrase Spouting Duo, creating an entire lexicon of catch phrases with astonishing efficiency. In The Name O ...