Mad ScientistWhat Measure Is A Non HumanCalling Your AttacksThere Is No Kill Like OverkillFamous Last Words
Nightmare FuelSoundtrack DissonanceThe DragonBittersweet EndingWhat Do You Mean, It's Not Awesome?
Lampshade HangingFun With AcronymsNice HatNoodle IncidentToo Dumb To Live
Bad AssOne Steve LimitBroken BaseHeroic BSODRule Of Cool
Meaningful NameThe Other DarrinKarma HoudiniAction GirlDie For Our Ship
Mad Scientist
They're scientists, they're somewhat scatterbrained, and they are frequently working for the bad guys, often building implausible gadgetry or slightly ridiculous superweapons. They tend to wear lab coats, have wild hair, and speak with put-on Central European accents (based on the many scientists who fled Central Europe from the Nazis and the Soviets). Sometimes they will talk like Peter Lorre, or ...
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 ...
Calling Your Attacks
If you can do something more impressive than just throw a punch, your attack(s) must have an equally impressive name. More than that, you have to call it out as you launch the attack. It doesn't matter if it's a martial arts move or a magical spell, if you can't say its name, it just isn't nearly as cool or effective. Also, expect plenty of echoing to come with it, and (if a fighter is feeling par ...
There Is No Kill Like Overkill
Sometimes, the act of killing an opponent can be completely overdone. A prime example would be shooting an enemy until they're almost dead, then, to finish them off, completely blowing up their body and everything else in a five mile radius. All in all, it's waste of resources, tactics, and time. ...but it's always, always worth it. Always. Especially if the enemy is just hanging on up until the e ...
Famous Last Words
Contrary to popular belief, very few fatal injuries result in instant death. As long as you haven't been decapitated, shot in the head, or asploded, your body will take at least two minutes to fully shut down, giving you a chance to belt out a few parting words to your comrades or the enemy that felled you. More realistic than the Final Speech, which lasts as long as the plot needs it to no matter ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
Bittersweet Ending
Victory, at last! The Big Bad has been vanquished, the day has been saved, the damsels in distress and innocent bystanders have been rescued and the heroes are ready to reap their reward, kiss their Love Interests and walk away toward the setting sun. Victory, really? Then why does no one feel like cheering? Why is the atmosphere so heavy with melancholy? Why do you find yourself counting your los ...
What Do You Mean, It's Not Awesome?
So you have yourself a situation that might be important, but it just isn't awesome enough. There's something missing. What could it be...? I know! Let's throw in some gripping orchestral music, lighting changes, different camera angles, something! Don't write like a man, write like an Evil Overlord! Exaggerate your expressions and gestures, speak with excessive intonation, and if all else fails, ...
Lampshade Hanging
Lampshade Hanging is the writers' trick of dealing with any element of the story that threatens the audience's Willing Suspension Of Disbelief—whether a very implausible plot development, or a particularly egregious use of a trope—by calling attention to it... and then moving on. The reason for this counter-intuitive strategy is two-fold. First, it assures the audience that the author is aware ...
Fun With Acronyms
In fictional acronyms, priorities are reversed. It's not so important that the full name be clear, memorable and to the point; it matters much more that the actual acronym spell out a word or phrase, preferably a relevant one. This results in 'backronyms', acronyms created before the names they allegedly stand for. For instance, no writer would have allowed New York's police force to come up with ...
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 ...
Noodle Incident
The Noodle Incident is something from the past that is sometimes referred to but never explained, with the implication that it's just too ludicrous for words, and the reality that any explanation would fall short of audience expectations. Questions about it are often met with 'You Don't Want To Know...' Commonly introduced to the audience through a Wiki Walk. Named for an (unexplained, of course) ...
Too Dumb To Live
The character who drives the plot by doing things that no sane human being would do. Walking down the alley alone to tell her friend about the Serial Killer. Telling her best friend not to tell anybody, but she has a crush on somebody. Walking through the streets of Sunnydale after dark. Being Lana Lang. Splitting the party. Being curious. Searching the hero's room in such a manner that no one cou ...
Bad Ass
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 ...
One Steve Limit
In nearly all TV shows, webcomics, etc. no two characters share the same first name. Simple as that. Sometimes this rule goes further - two characters will not share similar-sounding names. (If there's a Laura, there will not be a Linda.) There are good reasons for this, of course. It is generally considered unwise to have your viewer/reader keep wondering, 'Okay, which Steve is this?' In additi ...
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 ...
Heroic BSOD
Heroic Blue Screen of Death: An earth-shattering revelation or horrible event affects the hero or someone he cares deeply about, leaving him flummoxed or shocked to the point of mentally shutting down for a while. Alternatively, if this occurs during a fight with one of the Big Bad's minions, the hero may have a violent outburst, with the ensuing catastrophe killing Evil Minions and knocking his c ...
Rule Of Cool
The limit of the Willing Suspension Of Disbelief for a given element is directly proportional to its degree of coolness. Stated another way, all but the most pedantic of viewers will forgive liberties with reality as long as the result is wicked sweet or awesome. This applies to the audience in general; there will naturally be a different threshold for each individual in the group. The Rule Of Coo ...
Meaningful Name
A name that has a direct, barely-hidden meaning to it. The first, last, or full name says something primal about the character. Often has multiple layers. To hide the meaning a bit, use an alternate spelling or foreign equivalent. Instead of writers having to make up random words or think of real names, they can use mythological names or old words. As an example, it is common to use for heroic cha ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
Die For Our Ship
Sometimes, a character is hated because he's annoying. Or because he came in after the show Jumped The Shark. Or because she's a raging Mary Sue and gets too much attention. The list goes on. More often, though, when Shipping comes into play, the character is hated for existing at all. Hate shrines. Death Fics. Fics where the formerly sweet and loyal character cheats on the heroine with her two be ...