Shown Their WorkMind ScrewParanoia FuelBadass LongcoatDeadpan Snarker
Verbal TicBig BadThe DragonNice HatDeterminator
The Other DarrinBroken BaseNo Name GivenCatch PhraseDriven To Suicide
Actor AllusionBreak The CutieSliding Scale Of Idealism Versus CynicismBadassAction Girl
Big Lipped Alligator MomentNightmare FuelButt MonkeyMoral Event HorizonThe Scrappy
Shown Their Work
Although many talents in fictional media show they Did Not Do The Research, some actually did. In fact, sometimes they learned so much and worked so hard to learn it that it would hardly seem fitting to just not show it off. The Shown Their Work trope comes in when the creators tweak their stories to show the viewer/reader what they have learned. The trick is to do it so this advances the story in ...
Mind Screw
The Mind Screw is basically a show that relies so heavily on symbolism that the immediate response afterwards is 'What the heck was that?!?!' These shows practically beg for fans to invent their own improbable theories about Epileptic Trees and such. While some fans can make arguments over what the symbolism means, and what everything represents, many mind screws will pad themselves with meaningle ...
Paranoia Fuel
When things that should be harmless, or on the children's side, turn nasty, stripping away all sense of safety. THEY CAN SEE YOU. THEY KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE! How can a child sleep easy in their bed, when they've seen how toys can come alive when all is dark and wreak unspeakable vengeance? What trust can they have that anyone will protect them, when they've just seen some cheerful kid's programme w ...
Badass Longcoat
A Longcoat is the ideal action-hero garment, more practical than a cape but infinitely cooler than a sport coat or no coat. In addition, a Longcoat of any level of 'billowy-ness' makes an ideal cover for producing any number of weapons, tools, supplies and whatnot. Certain styles of Longcoat are deliberately designed to distort the wearer's frame, making their wearer's access to Hammerspace almost ...
Deadpan Snarker
A character given to gnomic, sarcastic, sometimes bitter, occasionally whimsical asides. The Deadpan Snarker exists to deflate pomposity, point out the unlikelihood of certain plans, and deliver funny lines. Typically a Deadpan Snarker is the most cynical supporting character. In most cases, it is implied that the snarker would make a good leader, strategist, or consultant given their ability to i ...
Verbal Tic
An exceptionally odd Catch Phrase, used to the point it seems more like a bodily emission than speaking. This is often a single nonsense word added at the end of sentences, well past the expected formal variations in speech. Occasionally, it'll be a stretched-out and bizarre play on Japanese grammar. This is rarely, if ever, applied when the series is dubbed into English. Both variants are extreme ...
Big Bad
It's good to be king. A Big Bad is a jeopardy, usually a character with evil designs (though it may also be a situation, such as a comet heading towards the Earth), that is behind all of the other bad happenings. The Big Bad can have effect across a number of episodes, and even an entire season. Note that Big Bad is not a catch-all trope for the biggest and ugliest villain of any given story. The ...
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 ...
Nice Hat
Clearly not a hat to be trifled with. To show that you mean business, it's important to have style. Enter: the nice hat. It may actually have utility — even conveying special powers — but more often than not it just looks cool, or even sexy. A discerning hero/villain just can't be seen without their Nice Hat! Harming the nice hat may be akin to kicking the dog, with disastrous results. Fedoras ...
Determinator
Every character needs a certain amount of Heroic Willpower, but there are some who take it just too far. The personification of raw perseverance, this is the character - good guy or bad, and usually male (but not always) - who never gives up. Ever. No matter what. Whatever other attributes he may possess, his persistence stands out. There is no stopping the Determinator. He does not understand pat ...
The Other Darrin
A new actor is brought onto a show to play the same character as an actor who's leaving. Often not explained to the audience at all. Named for arguably the most famous case: the Darrin swap — Dick York to Dick Sargent — on Bewitched. Somewhat easier to get away with when dealing with voice actors or with animals. In daytime soaps, there are several standardized ways this is done: the new act ...
Broken Base
Broken Base is basically a civil war among fans of a particular series. It involves infighting over whether or not the series is still good after a certain change. The loyalists believe it's as good as ever - maybe even better - and constantly hold up its merits. The dissenters feel betrayed by declining quality, and attack the series at every opportunity. They'll also be annoyed by the other fan ...
No Name Given
A major character is referred to only by a first name, last name or nickname. Viewers either never learn the character's full name, or it's saved for a reveal episode. Reasons for this vary, but it often serves the function of making a character seem more mysterious or eccentric. In older (pre-1900 in North America; pre-1970 in the UK) fiction, a narrator may refer to a character (especially an ol ...
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 ...
Driven To Suicide
Sometimes when there is no way out or when the weight of a guilty conscience, nay, the world is too much to bear, a character may be Driven To Suicide. This may be as little as pondering their existence or as much as holding a gun to one's head. Most times the character will have second thoughts, not have the courage to pull the trigger, or will be talked down by a friend. But in shows where Any ...
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 ...
Break The Cutie
A series introduces a character as sweet and lovable, more comic relief than anything, who likes nothing more than to pet little puppies. They make you adore them, root for them and love them. Then they proceed to slowly break them in front of your very eyes. They destroy everything important to them, kill everyone they love and make them suffer from horrible accidents, diseases and acts of violen ...
Sliding Scale Of Idealism Versus Cynicism
In a bid to appeal more to adult audiences, Disneyland replaces 'It's a Small World' with 'It's a Cold and Unforgiving Hell' in 2011. What best defeats evil? A bullet between the eyes, or The Power Of Friendship? The answer depends on where the series falls in the Sliding Scale Of Idealism Versus Cynicism (also known as Romanticism Versus Realism). In a heavily idealistic series, Humans Are Good ...
Badass
The Rule Of Cool personified. A character who gets away with outright insane stunts (defusing a bomb with their teeth, conning a mob boss, getting into a firefight with the entire US army, etc.) that would never work in real life. A Bad Ass is a fantasy figure who the audience roots for precisely because they break the Willing Suspension Of Disbelief - or, between Refuge In Audacity and Rule Of Co ...
Action Girl
The Action Girl is, essentially, Badassitude molded into a sleek female frame: a female character who is spunky, agile, and can take you down with an array of kicks, punches, or diverse Weapons Of Choice. She is not The Chick, though they overlap more and more frequently, or a Distressed Damsel. She doesn't sit around waiting to be rescued. She doesn't only plan how to rescue herself. She doesn't ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
Moral Event Horizon
The Moral Event Horizon is the point of no return. Once a character crosses it of their own free will, they cease to be cool or admirable. It is a single act which, while not necessarily objectively worse than anything else the villain has previously committed, affects the audience and the story on a far deeper level. Whether the person has truly become irredeemable may be a question that can neve ...
The Scrappy
Popular characters have fandoms. But sometimes, there is a character who has a hatedom. We'll call this guy The Scrappy. While much depends on execution, certain kinds of characters have a much higher probability of being hated: The Ace, when used for the wrong situation. The Barney, a character (even the central one) hated immensely outside the specific demographic it was meant for. A Bratty ...