- Canonical List of Subtle Trope Distinctions vs. Laconical List of Subtle Trope Distinctions
- Canonical List of Subtle Trope Distinctions: Detailed explanations highlighting the differences between similar tropes.
- Laconical List of Subtle Trope Distinctions: Short explanations highlighting the differences.
Some tropes are sometimes confused. This isn't the canonical list of tropes that might be confused for one another, that can be found here.
Some explanations of subtle trope differences can be confusing. This is a copy of the canonical list in a concise form. The explanations focus on the differences between the tropes, making it easier to identify where a particular example would fall. Ideally they should be concise, accurate and amusing.
If the concise version doesn't help your question, try figuring out the detailed version. If the detailed version doesn't help, you're on your own.
Please take all discussions of whether two tropes are insufficiently distinguished to the discussion page of the canonical list
If adding a new item, make sure that the full explanation is included in the canonical list in order to keep the two lists in sync.
The laconic version of this laconic (laconic^2) can be found here
Items are currently sorted alphabetically by whichever trope is alphabetically first.
Accidental Innuendo vs. Innocent Innuendo vs. Does This Remind You of Anything? vs. Freud Was Right:
- Did something naughty just happen?
- Alice shot Bob, but she...
- The Hero is missing from the big battle because he's...
- The opening is full of action...
Actor Allusion vs. Casting Gag vs. Celebrity Paradox vs. The Danza:
- Actor Allusion: Doesn't Indy look like Han Solo?
- Casting Gag: Harrison Ford guest stars as a swashbuckling archeologist, with a whip and fedora, named Bob.
- Celebrity Paradox: Doesn't Indy look like Harrison Ford?
- The Danza: Harrison Ford's character is named Harrison.
- The price you pay to buy a useful item...
- Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Quadruples every time you reach a new area.
- Karl Marx Hates Your Guts: Is always the same everywhere, and often less than you get by selling it, meaning you just lugged 100 of them across the continent for nothing.
- No Hero Discount: Is the same price paid by people who didn't just save the shopkeeper from being monster food.
Adam Westing vs. As Himself vs. Autobiographical Role vs. Celebrity Star vs. Character as Himself vs. The Danza vs. Special Guest:
- Bob the Actor is playing...
- Adam Westing: A Flanderized version of himself.
- As Himself: Himself, a main character.
- Autobiographical Role: Himself in the non-fiction story of Bob's life (Bob is not usually a professional actor).
- Character as Himself: His famous character, Fred, and is listed in the credits as Fred, not Bob.
- The Danza: A fictional character named Bob, that is not Bob the Actor.
- Special Guest: Himself for a quick shock or joke.
- Celebrity Star: Bob completely takes over the episode.
- It was good, now it sucks because they...
Adult Child vs. Man Child
- Bob acts like a child...
- A place where the action is. The heroes are...
- Just because you're a villain, it doesn't mean you can't be...
- Bob is Badass...
- Airborne Aircraft Carrier: A big aircraft that carries several or many smaller aircraft.
- The Battlestar: An Airborne Aircraft Carrier/Battleship hybrid, often IN SPACE.
- The Mothership: A super-carrier capable of lugging several Battlestars around.
The Alcatraz vs. Cardboard Prison vs. Gilded Cage vs. Luxury Prison Suite vs. Might as Well Not Be in Prison At All vs. Play-Along Prisoner
- A character is imprisoned...
- The Alcatraz: In a high-security facility that will take maximum effort and luck to get out of.
- Cardboard Prison: And they can break out with minimal effort.
- Gilded Cage: In a five-star hotel and the villain is paying the bill.
- Luxury Prison Suite: So they arrange for the nicest stay possible by bribing the guards.
- Might as Well Not Be in Prison At All: But there’s still hundreds of their loyal minions free on the outside.
- Play-Along Prisoner: They could break out whenever they wish, they're just waiting "for the right time".
- The heroes are restricted from...
- All Myths Are True: Anything the character has ever heard of is real.
- Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Anything the audience has ever heard of is real.
- Crossover Cosmology: ...but aren't many of those beliefs mutually contradictory?
- Planet Eris: It is real in another reality.
All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game" vs. First Episode Spoiler vs. It Was His Sled vs. Late Arrival Spoiler:
- The twist is remembered...
Allegedly Free Game vs. Bribing Your Way to Victory vs. Real Money Trade vs. Revenue Enhancing Devices
- Purchasing game features...
The Alliance vs. The Empire vs. The Federation vs. La Résistance:
- The Federation: Big nations working together.
- The Empire: One nation conquers all.
- La Résistance: Fights the power, small-scale.
- The Alliance: Fights the power, large-scale.
- Alternate Continuity: What happened in the novels didn't happen in the movie.
- Continuity Reboot: What happened in the previous movies never actually happened.
- Alternate Timeline: What happened in the the third and fourth movies never actually happened in the fifth movie.
- Alternate History: What you learned in history class didn't actually happen.
- Alternate Universe: Same physics, familiar characters or places that are different.
- Another Dimension: Different physics, familiar characters or places don't exist.
- The Heroes are saved...
Ambiguously Gay vs. But Not Too Gay vs. Have I Mentioned I Am Gay? vs. Hide Your Lesbians vs. Get Back in the Closet
- Ambiguously Gay: Bob and George like ice skating and Barbara Streisand, but that doesn't mean they're gay...or does it?
- But Not Too Gay: Bob and George are a gay couple, but don't kiss or hug.
- Have I Mentioned I Am Gay?: Bob and George are gay, Take Our Word for It!
- Hide Your Lesbians: Bob and George are just friends...or are they...it's dubious...
- Get Back in the Closet: Bob and George are gay and can kiss or get as down and dirty as they want to...automatic NC-17 rating.
Amnesia Danger vs. Amnesiac Liar vs. Criminal Amnesiac vs. Easy Amnesia vs. Forgot the Call vs. Identity Amnesia vs. Laser-Guided Amnesia
- A character has amnesia:
- Amnesia Danger: And loses the skills needed to solve a looming disaster.
- Amnesiac Liar: And is unwittingly fed one of his own lies.
- Criminal Amnesiac: And is convinced they are really one of the bad guys.
- Easy Amnesia: That was easily induced, often from a Tap on the Head, and can be reversed just as easily with no lasting effects.
- Forgot the Call: And forgets they are the hero of an epic adventure.
- Identity Amnesia: And thinks they are a totally different person, possibly a famous historical figure.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: And only forgets personal knowledge that directly affects the plot.
- Amusing Alien: A uniquely otherworldly being who's funny.
- Funny Foreigner: A being from a faraway (but not alien) place who's funny.
- Ancient Conspiracy: Keep the evil plan secret from the non-conspirators.
- The Masquerade: Keep the secret world secret from the Muggles.
- The dramatic list of reasons to beat Bob up...
Anti-Magic vs. No Sell vs. Power Nullifier:
- The hero is unable to blast the villain with a fireball because...
- Anyone Can Die: There's a good chance a main character will die.
- Kill'Em All: There's a good chance a large number of characters will die.
Applied Phlebotinum vs. Green Rocks vs Single Phlebotinum Limit vs. Magnetic Plot Device vs. Mineral MacGuffin vs Minovsky Physics vs. Unobtainium :
- Neat stuff that...
- Applied Phlebotinum: moves the plot forwards.
- Green Rocks: can do anything.
- Magnetic Plot Device: justifies all the weirdness.
- Mineral MacGuffin: is fought over.
- Minovsky Physics: is rigidly defined despite not actually existing.
- Single Phlebotinum Limit: does do everything, even the things which shouldn't need it.
- Unobtainium: is useful yet hard to find or create.
- The hero wrecked a building. His superior lets him off easy...
- An object that...
- A minor character becomes...
Ascended Fanboy vs Audience Surrogate vs Escapist Character vs The Everyman vs This Loser Is You vs Unfazed Everyman:
- Ascended Fanboy: You dream of this happening to you.
- Audience Surrogate: This is supposed to be you.
- Escapist Character: This is who you wish you could be.
- The Everyman: This is supposed to be you and everyone else too.
- This Loser Is You: This ugly idiot is supposed to be you.
- Unfazed Everyman: This is supposed to be you and everyone else is crazy.
An intelligent and nerdy character of Asian descent...
- The writer has painted himself into a corner. To get out he
Atomic F-Bomb vs. Cluster F-Bomb vs. Mother F-Bomb vs. Precision F-Strike:
- Atomic F-Bomb: "FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!"
- Cluster F-Bomb: "Fucked fucking fuckity fuckfuckers! Fuck!"
- Mother F-Bomb: "Motherfucker!"
- Precision F-Strike: "I am dead fucking serious, Mr President."
Author Appeal vs. Fan Service vs. Fetish Fuel vs Pandering to the Base:
- I just wrote something that...
- The author included fetish stuff...
- One phrase is repeatedly used by...
Author Filibuster vs. Author Tract vs. Writer on Board vs. Character Filibuster:
- Author Filibuster: Stop everything! The author is making a point here.
- Character Filibuster: To make it a bit less obvious, it's put in a character's mouth.
- Author Tract: This whole thing is the author making a point.
- Writer on Board: The plot goes this way so the author can make a point.
Averted Trope vs. Justified Trope vs. Lampshade Hanging vs. Subverted Trope vs. Double Subversion vs. Zig-Zagging Trope vs. Inverted Trope:
- Averted Trope: The trope that is normally used in this case... WASN'T!
- Justified Trope: We had a good reason for using this trope.
- Lampshade Hanging: Look, we used a trope!
- Subverted Trope: Ha! You thought we were going to use that trope, didn't you?
- Like a death-ray...
- Awesome but Impractical: That fires slowly. Just use a gun.
- Cool but Inefficient: That takes 20 minutes to kill. Just use a gun.
- Too Awesome to Use: With one shot. You'll save it forever and just use a gun.
- Useless Useful Spell: That only fires when it's being pointed at something that could be killed with a gun.
- A Worldwide Punomenon: Many puns in a work.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: Even the characters admit they're lame.
- Stealth Pun: Find them out by yourself.
Ax Crazy vs. Blood Knight vs. Psycho for Hire:
- Ax Crazy: A dangerous lunatic who is prone to just snap.
- Psycho for Hire: Like the above, but he gets paid to snap.
- Blood Knight: Dangerous lunatic? Nah, just loves fighting.
Back for the Dead vs. Bus Crash vs. Character Outlives Actor vs. Dropped a Bridge on Him vs. McLeaned vs. Put on a Bus vs. Put on a Bus to Hell vs. Written in Absence:
- Put on a Bus: Left the show, might come back.
- Put on a Bus to Hell: Put on a Bus in a mean way, but lives.
- Character Outlives Actor: The actor died, the character is written out of the show.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Killed off in a mean way.
- McLeaned: The actor left and the writers kill their character so they can't come back.
- Written in Absence: Temporarily put on a bus to keep the numbers down.
Back Stab vs. In the Back
- Badass Back: Fighting a character with your back to them.
- Offhand Backhand: Pulling off a move without looking.
- They're both smart and good fighters. But at first, you don't see...
- The longcoat (or similar)...
Base Breaker vs. Broken Base:
Bat Deduction vs. Conviction by Contradiction vs. Conviction by Counterfactual Clue vs. Eureka Moment:
- Bat Deduction: Conclusions about what happened based on insufficient evidence are treated as justified.
- Conviction by Contradiction: Conclusion that someone is guilty based on a flaw in their alibi is treated as justified.
- Conviction by Counterfactual Clue: Conclusion that someone is guilty based on circumstantial evidence from false premises is treated as justified.
- Eureka Moment: Conclusions about what happened are inspired by completely unrelated events.
Batman Gambit vs. Gambit Pileup vs. Xanatos Gambit vs. Gambit Roulette vs. Xanatos Speed Chess:
- Batman Gambit: I know what you'll do and I'll use that to win.
- Gambit Pileup: Everyone's plans crashed into each other...I don't know who'll win.
- Gambit Roulette: No matter what happens, no matter how unpredictable, I'll still win.
- Xanatos Gambit: No matter what you do, I'll still win.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: If it looks like I won't win, I'll make up a new plan so I will.
Batman Gambit vs. Cloning Gambit vs. Fake Twin Gambit vs. Genghis Gambit vs. Lysistrata Gambit vs. Memory Gambit vs. Party Scheduling Gambit vs. Poison and Cure Gambit vs. The Uriah Gambit vs. Wounded Gazelle Gambit vs. Xanatos Gambit vs. Zero-Approval Gambit:
- Batman Gambit: I know what you'll do and I'll use that to win.
- Cloning Gambit: I'll have my clone so everyone thinks it was really me and I can vanish.
- Fake Twin Gambit: I'll play like I'm my twin, even though I don't have one.
- Genghis Gambit: Hey, everyone, I know we don't get along but those guys over there just called all of us pansies! Let's kill 'em!
- Lysistrata Gambit: Alice to Bob: "Do what I say or you get no play."
- Memory Gambit: I don't need these memories right now, but I'll do something so that they're available later.
- Party Scheduling Gambit: I'll totally wreck their party with my way better party!
- Poison and Cure Gambit: I'll get 'em all sick and make 'em buy the cure for 100000X what it's worth.
- The Uriah Gambit: I need this flunky out of the way...and there's a Red Shirt opening tailor-made for him!
- Wounded Gazelle Gambit: I'll hurt myself and blame Alice so Bob will feel sorry for me.
- Xanatos Gambit: No matter what you do, I'll still win.
- Zero-Approval Gambit: You're gonna hate me for this, but you'll thank me later.
- The Battle Didn't Count: You must win, but I don't die.
- Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: You must win, now I kick your ass.
- Hopeless Boss Fight: You can't win, now let's continue.
- I Let You Win: You must win...as part of my plan.
- Beautiful All Along: Now that you've taken off your glasses and let down your hair, I realize you're beautiful.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: Now that you've put on a ball gown and had a makeover, you're even more beautiful.
- She Is All Grown Up: Now that puberty's beaten you with a pretty stick, you're even more beautiful.
You wish for something and get it. But...
- Be Careful What You Wish For: ...unforeseen consequences cause you later to regret making the wish.
- Wanting Is Better Than Having: ...reality fails to live up to the expectations.
- A non-human wants to get more human-like with respect to...
- Bellisario's Maxim: We can't make it perfect, cut us some slack.
- MST3K Mantra: Not everything is important, relax.
Beneath the Mask vs A Darker Me vs GIFT vs Hidden Depths:
- Alice is different person...
- Let's cash in on the success of The Wacky Adventures of Bob and Alice by...
BFG vs. Hand Cannon
- Big No: Character's verbal reaction to being upset.
- Squick: Physical reaction to something upsetting.
- Bittersweet Ending: Good guys win, but at great cost
- Pyrrhic Victory: Battle with a Bittersweet Ending
- Earn Your Happy Ending: The story is mostly cynical, but the ending is more idealistic.
Black Comedy vs. Gallows Humor vs. Dead Baby Comedy:
- Black Comedy: Jokes about normally serious things.
- Gallows Humor: Jokes about normally serious things by the victims to relieve tension.
- Dead Baby Comedy: Jokes intended to offend.
- Black Sheep Hit: Hit song is very different from the musician's usual style.
- Creator Backlash: Creator detests their popular work.
- Magnum Opus Dissonance: Nobody remembers the creator's pet project.
- Old Shame: Creator hopes everyone forgot about their work.
- Bland-Name Product: Alice and Bob drive a BMV.
- Fictional Counterpart: Alice and Bob's new adventure is set in the BMV factory.
Blind Idiot Translation vs. Either World Domination or Something About Bananas vs. My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels vs. Translation Train Wreck:
- What Alice says makes no sense...
- My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: ...because she doesn't speak the language.
- Either World Domination or Something About Bananas: ...because her friend Bob tries to interpret for her and comes up with two wildly different translations.
- Blind Idiot Translation: ...because Carla, the book's translator, fails.
- Translation Train Wreck: ...but neither does anything else in the narrative or dialogue, because the translator doesn't speak either language.
Bokukko vs. The Ladette vs. Shorttank vs. Tomboy
This is a girl who...
- Bokukko: ...uses male pronouns.
- Shorttank: ...is sporty and has more boyish qualities than feminine ones.
- The Ladette: ...acts like a guy.
- Tomboy: Super-Trope to all of these.
A cool line uttered...
- Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner: ...before beginning a fight.
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner: ...before ending a fight.
- Bond One-Liner: ...after ending a fight.
- Quip to Black: ...by someone who wasn't in the fight.
Boobs of Steel vs. Buxom Is Better vs. Gag Boobs vs. Most Common Superpower
- She has big boobs...
- Boring Invincible Hero: ...can do no wrong, so the story sucks.
- Showy Invincible Hero: ...can do no wrong, and that's the point of the story.
- Boring Failure Hero: ...can do no right, so the story sucks.
- Characters wet or soil themselves...
Breaking the Fourth Wall vs. Fourth Wall vs. Medium Awareness vs. No Fourth Wall vs. No Inner Fourth Wall:
- Fourth Wall: Spider-Man doesn't know he's a character in a comic book.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Deadpool does know he's a character in a comic book.
- No Inner Fourth Wall: Jack Slater finds out he's a character in a story, but the story itself is also fictional.
- Bob tells Alice what a pathetic creature she is...
- Brick Joke: You don't know why it was there until it shows up again later.
- Chekhov's Gag: It was a joke. Now it's back for a second round.
Broken Aesop vs. Clueless Aesop vs. Family-Unfriendly Aesop vs. Lost Aesop:
- The moral of The Boy Who Cried Wolf is...
- Broken Base: the fans disagree too much with each other.
- Fan Dumb: some fans are simply trolls.
- They Changed It, Now It Sucks: the fans consider every change in the source as "Ruined FOREVER!"
- Unpleasable Fanbase: can cover all of the above, but is about how any effort to please the fans will fail because of differing desires. (With the exception of And the Fandom Rejoiced)
- Totally Radical: is a genuine attempt by the writers (or a character) to use modern (or period) slang, but comes off as fake because it is from the wrong period, or otherwise misused.
- Buffy-Speak: is a writer avoiding the first trope by using made-up speech patterns that sound plausible but aren't an actual attempt to use Real Life slang.
- Bulletproof Human Shield: Using a human body as a shield always stops bullets.
- Human Shield: The Villain holds an innocent in the line of fire.
- Bullet Time: is a visual effect to show that a character's senses are so heightened that he can react to things as if they were in slow-motion.
- Super Reflexes: is a Stock Superpower where a character can react to situations faster than normal; it may be depicted (visually) with Bullet Time, Slow Motion, or some other effect.
- Before he thrashed you with his superpowers because you picked on him, did you know he had any?
Bunny Ears Lawyer vs. Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass vs. Obfuscating Stupidity vs. Obfuscating Insanity vs. Let's Get Dangerous vs. Crazy Awesome:
- Bunny Ears Lawyer: Quirky but still competent.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: is incompetent until pushed.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Deliberately acts stupid to conceal competence.
- Obfuscating Insanity: Deliberately acts crazy to conceal competence.
- Let's Get Dangerous: Said to be badass but seems incompetent, until pushed.
- Crazy Awesome: Competent because of their craziness.
- "I'm pregnant? But..."
- Your villian does not do serious evil...
Butt Monkey vs. Cosmic Plaything vs. The Chew Toy vs. The Woobie:
- Your life sucks...
Call Back vs. Continuity Nod vs. Mythology Gag:
- Call Back: Relevant reference to series' continuity.
- Continuity Nod: Irrelevant reference to series' continuity.
- Mythology Gag: Reference to the franchise's history.
- The rules of the game...
Canon vs. Fanon vs. Ascended Fanon vs. Fanon Discontinuity vs. Canon Dis Continuity vs. Running the Asylum vs. Extended Universe vs. Word of Dante vs. Word of St Paul vs. Word of God:
- The fandom says something happened in the story.
- Canon: It did.
- Fanon: It didn't.
- Ascended Fanon: It didn't, but then the writers put it in.
- Fanon Discontinuity: It did, but the fans pretend it didn't.
- Canon Dis Continuity: It used to, but now it actually didn't.
- Running the Asylum: It didn't, but it seeped in as fans started populating the writing staff.
- Word of Dante: It didn't, but it's unanimously accepted.
- Word of St Paul: It isn't shown in the work, but the writer's family or other people close to him said it did.
- Word of God: It isn't shown in the work, but the writers said it did.
- Expanded Universe: It happened in a work written by a third party and endorsed by the author.
- Canon Foreigner: refers to a character exclusive to a certain adaptation of a previously-existing fictional universe.
- Canon Immigrant: is when a character originally created in an adaptation is later introduced in the original source material.
Canon Sue vs. Creator's Pet vs. The Scrappy vs. X Pac Heat:
- Canon Sue: Character represents the author.
- Creator's Pet: Fans hate the character but the authors love them.
- The Scrappy: Fans hate the character but he/she/it still has major role.
- X Pac Heat: Fans hate the actor rather than the character.
- Cannon Fodder: Dies to make the hero look powerful.
- Redshirt Army: Dies to make the villain look powerful.
Captain Ersatz vs. Expy:
- A duplicate from another work, which...
- A character's love interests frequently end up...
The Cassandra vs. Cassandra Truth vs. Ignored Expert:
- Cassandra Truth: A character's warnings go unheeded, despite...
- Cassandra Gambit: I release the truth through low-credibility channels.
- Cassandra Truth: I try to tell you the truth, but you won't believe me.
- Sarcastic Confession: I tell you the truth because I know you won't believe me.
- The character has an important message...
Casting Couch vs.SexualExtortion vs Scarpia Ultimatum
- Alice, I must have you! Succumb or...
- Two girls fight each other because...
- Cerebus Syndrome: when a light, comedic series gets more serious and dramatic as it goes on (but not necessarily darker).
- Darker and Edgier: a series gets darker undertones over time or when a sequel/reboot/alternate continuity is noticeably darker than its predecessor(s) (but not necessarily more serious).
- An authority figure that aids evil by...
- Character's personality changes without proper justification...
- Bob has been up on stage talking for ten minutes because...
- Character-Magnetic Team: The group keeps attracting new members.
- Hitchhiker Heroes: New group members turn up during the quest.
- Magnetic Hero: The hero keeps attracting followers.
Chaste Hero vs. Celibate Hero vs. Asexuality
- The opposite sex shows a clear interest in the hero but he/she...
- You cheat and lose...
- Chekhov's Gun: Seems unimportant at first, then turns up as plot device.
- Chekhov's Boomerang: You think you're finished with the plot device, but here it comes again.
- Chekhov's Armoury: Everything is a Chekhov's Gun.
Cherry Tapping vs. Death of a Thousand Cuts vs. Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu? vs. Finger-Poke of Doom vs. Zerg Rush
- Cherry Tapping: Weak move finishes opponent.
- Death of a Thousand Cuts: Many weak attacks combine for strong impact.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Weak character defeats very strong opponent.
- Finger-Poke of Doom:: Weak attack does lots of damage.
- Zerg Rush: Swarm attack by lots of weak opponents.
- The Chessmaster: Treats everyone like pawns.
- Manipulative Bastard: Uses peoples' emotions to exploit them.
- Magnificent Bastard: It's not exploiting, it's manipulating with style!
- Chewing the Scenery: A scene that calls for overacting.
- Large Ham: A performer who often or always overacts.
- Wig, Dress, Accent: when a character physically disguises himself.
- Clark Kenting: when a character disguises himself to maintain an Alter Ego.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: when the audience isn't fooled by the disguise.
Cliff Hanger vs. Sequel Hook:
- You wait for the next episode to see...
- Closing Credits: the credits that roll at the end of a show.
- Creative Closing Credits: interesting variations on closing credits, as opposed to the classic "white text and black background."
- Credits Gag: a joke that appears during the end credits
- Coincidental Broadcast: TV conveniently progresses plot.
- Crystal Ball Scheduling: TV conveniently parallels plot.
Color Coded for Your Convenience vs. Chromatic Arrangement vs. Red Shirt vs. Bring My Red Jacket vs. Turns Red vs. Law of Chromatic Superiority
- The red ones...
Combat Medic vs. Deadly Doctor vs. Martial Medic
- The character knows how to heal...
Confusion Fu vs. Indy Ploy vs. Strategy Schmategy:
- Bob is unpredictable because...
- Conviction by Contradiction: Showing that Bob's alibi was false doesn't prove he's guilty.
- Conviction by Counterfactual Clue: Bob is "proved" guilty with incorrect evidence.
- A cook that makes very bad, even toxic food...
- Corrupt Church: Started good, turned evil inside.
- Path of Inspiration: Started evil; good on the outside, evil on the inside.
- Religion of Evil: Evil. Just Evil.
- Cosmic Horror Story: The genre where we'll all eventually get eaten by monsters from beyond comprehension.
- Eldritch Abomination: The creatures that do the eating.
- Lovecraft Lite: The genre where the monsters from beyond all comprehension get killed and we don't get eaten.
- Cowboy Bebop at His Computer: The news gets it wrong.
- I Am Not Shazam: Casual fans and nonfans mistakenly think the title of the story is also the main characters name.
- Gannon Banned: Fans react poorly to mistakes, genuine and otherwise.
- A creator hates one of their works...
- Critical Research Failure: Anybody who knows anything about the subject knows that bit is wrong.
- Dan Browned: The author or the advertising said it's true. It's not.
- Did Not Do the Research: If the author had done even the slightest research, he wouldn't have made that mistake.
Crossover vs. Intercontinuity Crossover vs. Massive Multiplayer Crossover vs. Mega Crossover vs. Fusion Fic:
- Crossover: Characters from different stories, but the same universe, meet.
- Intercontinuity Crossover: Characters from two different universes meet.
- Massive Multiplayer Crossover: Characters from three or more different universes officially meet.
- Mega Crossover: Characters from three or more different universes unofficially meet.
- Fusion Fic: We replaced story A's characters with characters from X, let's see what happens...
- The fight is completely one-sided and ends with...
- A child learns about the world around him by...
Cute and Psycho vs. Sugar and Ice Personality vs. Tsundere vs. Yandere
- Acts A but has a B side.
- Cute as a Bouncing Betty: Cute/funny nicknames for military gear and weapons.
- I Call It Vera: Loving your weapon enough to name it.
Dead Person Conversation vs. Mummies At the Dinner Table vs. Of Corpse He's Alive vs. Talking to the Dead
- He's not really dead as long as...
- A character is Genre Savvy. This poses a problem for:
- A product appears in a work of fiction that is:
- Annoying, hard-to-kill/avoid video game monsters that are:
- Shaped Like Itself: Explanatory statement that is at the same time a description.
- Department of Redundancy Department: A description that is repetitive, possibly humorous, repetitive, and repetitive.
- Alice keeps chasing Bob...
Deus Ex Nukina vs. Nuclear Option vs. Nuclear Weapons Taboo vs. Nuke'Em vs. You Nuke'Em
- Nukes are...
- Deus Ex Nukina: Used in unrealistic ways to crank up the drama.
- Nuclear Option: Used as an absolute last resort when all else has failed.
- Nuclear Weapons Taboo: Substituted with a weapon that's just as destructive.
- Nuke'Em: Used frequently, recklesly and exclusively to almost anything else.
- You Nuke'Em: Used whenever the player in a video game feels like using them.
- Shipper fights for their OTP...
Diesel Punk vs. Raygun Gothic:
- Raygun Gothic is how sci-fi artists of the 20's through the 50's imagined the future would look.
- Diesel Punk is how sci-fi authors of today imagine the 20's through the 50's could have gone if our grandparents had more Applied Phlebotinum.
Discontinuity vs. Canon Dis Continuity vs. Fanon Discontinuity vs. Dork Age vs. Retcon
- Something happened in a show, but...
Discredited Trope vs. Dead Horse Trope vs. Forgotten Trope vs. Undead Horse Trope vs. Dead Unicorn Trope
- Discredited Trope: That trope is hardly played straight anymore.
- Dead Horse Trope: A trope is never played straight anymore.
- Forgotten Trope: A trope isn't even heard of anymore.
- Undead Horse Trope: A trope that refuses to die.
- Dead Unicorn Trope: A trope never was played straight to begin with.
Disney Death vs. He's Just Hiding vs. Never Say "Die":
- Disney Death: You think he's dead, but he's not.
- He's Just Hiding: You assume he isn't dead.
- Never Say "Die": No one really dies.
- Killing poor people because...
- Spanking done...
- Don't Make Me Take My Belt Off: mostly on boys and for drama; implements are necessary.
- Spank the Cutie: mostly on girls and for comedy or erotic purposes; implements are rarely used.
- Something in an existing franchise...
- The Dragon won't gun down these unarmed civilians when given the order...
- A good person is stupid, or at least more stupid than he used to be. Which came first?
- The world is destroyed...
- Easily Forgiven: We forgive you.
- "Get Out of Jail Free" Card: We forgive you because...HandWave.
- Karma Houdini: Karma forgives you.
- The task can only be solved by...
Endless Game vs. Game Over vs. Unwinnable:
- Oops! You lose!:
- An age gives way to another, and the story...
- Enemy Without: Copy derived from original.
- Literal Split Personality: Original split into two identical parts.
- Epileptic Trees: Speculating on what happened or will happen.
- Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: Speculating on what it means or represents.
- Wild Mass Guessing: Where Tropers can share both.
- Fetish Retardant: You fail at sexy.
- Fan Disservice: You win at unsexy.
- Erection Rejection: You fail at sexy...and sexy was all you had.
Evil Twin vs. Evil Counterpart vs. Evil Knockoff vs. Criminal Doppelganger:
- Evil Twin: Evil identical twin.
- Evil Counterpart: Evil version of the hero.
- Evil Knockoff: Evil copy of a hero, working for the villain.
- Criminal Doppelganger: Evil Identical Stranger.
- Example as a Thesis: See Alice and Bob. See Alice and Bob demonstrate an example of the trope. See actual definition following behind them.
- Self-Demonstrating Article: Somebody forgot their punctuation marks when describing No Punctuation Period.
- A personality change is indicated by...
- Face of the Band: Bob is the only member of The Tropes that most people can name.
- I Am the Band: Of course, Bob does write and sing all the songs and plays lead guitar.
- Fake Ultimate Hero: They think he did hero stuff, but he didn't...
- Miles Gloriosus: ...because he's a bravado-filled coward.
- Family Versus Career: A woman should choose the career.
- Never a Self-Made Woman: Her husband is more interesting anyway.
- Fan Dumb: Annoying fans.
- Broken Base: Annoying fans who can't agree with each other.
- They Changed It, Now It Sucks: Annoying fans who don't like change.
- Unpleasable Fanbase: Annoying fans who can't be pleased.
- Fantastic Aesop: Don't do this thing, even though you can't do it anyway.
- Space Whale Aesop: Don't do this thing, or something that can't happen will happen.
- The "drug" that a character is addicted to is...
Filler vs. Padding vs. Wacky Wayside Tribe:
- Filler: Additional side stories unimportant to the main plot arc.
- Padding: Additional material added to the main plot to stretch the length.
- Wacky Wayside Tribe: Additional obstacles added to the main plot to give the characters a hard time.
- The Film of the Series: Different cast.
- The Movie: Same cast, in continuity.
- Non-Serial Movie: Same cast, not in continuity.
- An evil team consisting of...
Forgotten Phlebotinum vs. Plot Induced Stupidity vs. Holding Back the Phlebotinum vs. It Only Works Once
- A gimmick could have been reused...
- Goliath is going to a Halloween party...
- Profanity is replaced by...
Fragile Speedster vs. Glass Cannon vs. Squishy Wizard Vs. The Medic:
- Can't take a punch, but...
- Due to some weird event, Alice and Carol discover that they have swapped...
Fridge Brilliance vs. Fridge Horror vs. Fridge Logic:
- When you think about a certain aspect of a show you just watched, you realize...
- Funny Aneurysm Moment: Supposed to be funny, but some later event makes it not so funny.
- Hilarious in Hindsight: Later event makes it funnier than originally intended (if it was even meant to be funny at all).
- Harsher in Hindsight: Supposed to be serious, and some later event makes it even more serious.
- Narm: Supposed to be serious, but the audience sees it as funny.
- All three could be swapped out for humans without changing the surrounding plot too much. What do they actually look like?
- To eliminate a threat, the Big Bad...
- Genre Savvy: Aware of storytelling conventions.
- Dangerously Genre Savvy: Uses storytelling conventions to their advantage.
- Medium Awareness: Aware of Paratext and lampshades it. May break Fourth Wall.
Giftedly Bad vs. High Hopes, Zero Talent vs. I Coulda Been a Contender vs. Sorry, Billy, But You Just Don't Have Legs
- A character cannot achieve his life's ambition because of:
- Bad things happen because the project...
Guy in Back vs. Wing Man
- The guy who provides support for the hero...
- She thinks two guys making out is hot...
Hand Cannon vs. BFG:
- Hand Cannon: A handgun so large and powerful it's ridiculous.
- BFG: Any other gun that's so large and powerful it's ridiculous.
- A naked person...
Hand Wave vs. Justified Trope vs. Lampshade Hanging vs. Voodoo Shark:
- Hand Wave: Flimsy explanation of the trope.
- Justified Trope: Logical explanation of the trope.
- Lampshade Hanging: Point at the trope, but don't explain.
- Voodoo Shark: Explanation of the trope that makes things worse.
- Your game ends...
Heroic BSOD vs. Heroic RROD vs. Superpower Meltdown:
- Heroic BSOD: Traumatic experience makes you go catatonic.
- Heroic RROD: Overusing your powers makes you go BOOM.
- Superpower Meltdown: Overusing your powers makes the whole place go BOOM.
Heroic Fantasy vs. High Fantasy vs. Low Fantasy vs. Standard Fantasy Setting::
- A Standard Fantasy Setting story about...
Heterosexual Life Partners vs. Ho Yay vs. Odd Couple:
- Heterosexual Life Partners: Same sex friends who act like a couple.
- Ho Yay: Homosexual subtext.
- Odd Couple: Friends with opposite personalities.
- Ho Yay: The fans notice homoerotic subtext.
- Homoerotic Subtext: The Ho Yay was intended by the writers.
- It's not exactly the smart thing to do, but...
- Hyper Awareness: Capable of observing minor details to everything around you.
- Sherlock Scan: Observes minor details to make accurate assumptions.
Hypocrite vs. Straw Hypocrite:
- Hypocrite: Often/Always fails to practice what they preach even if they believe in it in principle.
- Straw Hypocrite: Doesn't even believe in what it is that they preach about.
Idiot Ball vs. Idiot Plot vs. Plot Induced Stupidity:
- Stupidity for plot's sake...
- Ignore the Fanservice: The character is indifferent to a display of sexiness.
- Not Distracted by the Sexy: No one notices the character's Stripperiffic outfit.
Immortality vs. Made of Iron vs. Nigh Invulnerability:
- Immortality: Not dying.
- The character shakes off damage that would kill an ordinary human...
- A really bad pun is made...
Index Syndrome vs. Indexitis:
- Insufferable Genius: Smart and annoying.
- Too Clever by Half: Smart and annoying and they want to prove it.
- The weapon...
- The target of the insult...
- Drugs cause...
- Invisibility: Invisibility as a reoccuring superpower.
- Invisible Main Character: Invisibility as a one shot situation.
I Want My Jetpack vs. Magic Floppy Disk vs. Science Marches On vs. Tech Marches On vs. Our Graphics Will Suck in the Future vs. Zeerust vs. Zeerust Canon:
- A futurism failure...
- I Want My Jetpack: ...is noted by a character.
- Magic Floppy Disk: ...is made by this work.
- Science Marches On: ...is due to contemporary science becoming obsolete.
- Tech Marches On: ...is due to contemporary technology becoming obsolete.
- Our Graphics Will Suck in the Future: specifically, computer graphics technology.
- Zeerust: ...looks dated today.
- Zeerust Canon: ...still looks awesome, let's keep using it.
- "Stop fighting! You can't..."
- Jumping the Shark: Fans realize that moment five seasons ago was when a show started to suck.
- Ruined FOREVER: Fans claim that moment five minutes ago is when a show starts to suck.
- How did you get your piece of crap?
- Justified Trope: Trope with a Real Life explanation/justification.
- Truth in Television: Trope happens in Real Life.
- Kick the Dog: Evil for evil's sake, to remind you they're evil.
- Poke the Poodle: Wimpy attempted Kick the Dog.
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Went too far down Knight Templar street.
- Moral Event Horizon: Something so bad, the audience now wants you dead.
- An abnormally high body count is racked up:
- Knight Templar: A villain who starts as a good guy and goes too far.
- The Knights Templar: Real Life Crusades-era religious order.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: A villain who starts as a villain but has a good motive.
- Bob ruins...
- Why is the girl so important?
- One twin stands in for another...
Mary Sue vs. most of the subtypes
- Mary Sue: Fan fic character (generally) who is blatant Wish Fulfillment for the author. Super-Trope for the following:
- Anti-Sue: Ugly and/or nasty but still a Sue in the plot.
- Black Hole Sue: The entire plot is caught in his/her event horizon.
- Canon Sue: Exactly What It Says on the Tin; can be any type of Sue.
- Copy Cat Sue: Specially-tailored ripoff of a canon character.
- Fixer Sue: Exists to patch up the plot, whether it's needed or not.
- God Mode Sue: Overpowered in the extreme.
- Jerk Sue: Thoroughly nasty to others but always loved by everyone.
- Marty Stu: Mary Sue's Spear Counterpart.
- Mary Sue Classic: Perfection in everything, and loved by everyone; often a Purity Sue. The archetypal Sue character.
- Mary Tzu: An unrealistically successful schemer.
- Parody Sue: Deliberately mocks the trope.
- Possession Sue: Canon character rewritten to fit the author's ideal.
- Purity Sue: A blinding beacon of pureness and positivity.
- Relationship Sue: Exists to create a romance with another character.
- Sympathetic Sue: Unrealistically angsty and draws sympathy from everyone.
- Thirty-Sue Pileup: Many Sues in one plot.
- Villain Sue: Unrealistically over-the-top villainy.
- If you want to be back within an hour, you can't spend more than 59 min in the past/future.
- A white hero encounters a group of minorities....
- The Hero is a jerk...
- A Jerkass or Blood Knight has someone special to them that...
- Morph Weapon: The weapon can shift shapes.
- Shapeshifter Weapon: The shapeshifter can form their own weapons.
- Character's name is spelled unusually...
- Narrow Parody: Parody of really recent things.
- Shallow Parody: Superficial parody without real understanding.
- Those Wacky Nazis are armed with:
- Negative Continuity: Ignore changes to the status quo, everything snaps back next episode.
- Status Quo Is God: Avoid changing the status quo.
- Never Grew Up: Chooses not to age
- Not Growing Up Sucks: Cursed not to age
- Not Allowed to Grow Up: Doesn't age because the writers don't want them to.
- Nietzsche Wannabe: "Life is meaningless. We're all going to rot, so why not just end it now?"
- Ubermensch: "I am beyond your petty morality. I seek a higher purpose."
- No One Could Survive That: Assumed dead without proof.
- Not Quite Dead: Turns out not to have died.
- Staying Alive: Definitely did die, but now they're back.
- The Other Darrin: Same character, new actor, ignored in-universe.
- The Nth Doctor: Same character, new actor, explained in-universe.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: New character, same role/characterizations.
- Replacement Scrappy: New character sucks because he's new.
- No two characters have the same first name...
One-Winged Angel vs. Sequential Boss vs. Turns Red:
- Just when you thought you were winning a Boss Battle, the boss...
- Stupidity is required...
Pacifist Run vs. Stealth Run:
- You completed a game without killing enemies...
- Making a new video game character by:
- Two characters are very close friends who...
- The Power of Cheese: The people in the ad will do stupid things because the product is just that good.
- Too Incompetent to Operate a Blanket: The people in the ad need the product because they are too incompetent to operate a normal, simple tool.
- Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner: "I'm gonna kick your ass."
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "I'm kicking your ass."
- Bond One-Liner: "I kicked your ass."
- Quip to Black: "Looks like this man... got his ass kicked." (Commercial break)
Psycho Supporter vs. Yandere:
- Psychotic Smirk: Small, no teeth, sign of arrogance
- Slasher Smile: Big, shows teeth, sign of insanity / malice
Puppy Love vs. Toy Ship:
The Quiet One vs. The Voiceless vs. The Speechless vs. Silent Bob:
- The Quiet One: Rarely talks.
- The Voiceless: Talks offscreen, never onscreen.
- The Speechless: Never talks.
- Silent Bob: Never talks, but everyone understands what he's not saying.
Reset Button vs. Snap Back:
- Everything is back to normal...
- Someone's existence is erased...
- Two girls are close.
Rousing Speech vs. He's Back vs. Heroic Resolve vs. Shut UP, Hannibal vs. World of Cardboard Speech:
- Rousing Speech: "Come on everyone, lets go kick some ass!"
- He's Back: "I'm back, now lets go kick some ass!"
- Heroic Resolve: "I can't give up, I must kick some ass!"
- Shut UP, Hannibal: "Shut up villain! I'll kick your ass!"
- World of Cardboard Speech: "Here's why I'm going to kick your ass."
- You're playing a video game and an Obvious Trap is sprung.
- A man in charge is tough with his men.
- Senseless Sacrifice: Sacrifice turns out to be in vain.
- Stupid Sacrifice: Heroic Sacrifice that wasn't the only option.
- The characters set out on an adventure, and...
- The longer a series goes on, the more _____ the villains get.
- Charts explaining:
- A person gets shot...
- What happens when the timer expires?
- Subverted Kids Show: G-rating characters, R- to X-rated show.
- What Do You Mean It's Not for Kids?: Mistaken for a kid's show because it's in the Animation Age Ghetto.
- What Do You Mean It's for Kids?: Really is a kid's show, but doesn't look like it.
- Sugar and Ice Personality: So The Spock really does have emotions.
- Tin Man: Wait! Why did The McCoy just claim he has no emotions?
- Alice killed herself and the Big Bad at the same time...
- The little kid who...
- A videogame puzzle which...
Tomboy vs. Bokukko vs. Shorttank vs. The Ladette:
- Tomboy: Super-Trope, girl who acts like a boy.
Totally Radical vs. Buffy-Speak vs. Jive Turkey
- The slang...
- It's a drill, ...
- In one work, the plot is formed by...
- Unexpected Successor: Your dad died, now you're king until you die.
- You Are in Command Now: Your captain died, now you're filling in until the real replacement gets here.
Unwinnable vs. Unwinnable by Design vs. Unwinnable By Mistake vs. Endless Game:
- Unwinnable: It's impossible to complete the game because...
Ur Example vs. Trope Maker vs. Trope Codifier vs. Trope Namer
- Ur Example: The first example.
- Trope Maker: The first well-known and deliberate example.
- Trope Codifier: The example everyone else copies.
- Trope Namer: Provides the name used here; may or may not be any of the others, or even an example of the trope.
- A character is granted wishes...
- Wig, Dress, Accent: Basic physical disguise.
- Clark Kenting: Disguise to maintain secret identity.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: The audience can see through it, but the characters can't.
Word of God vs. Flip-Flop of God vs. Shrug of God
- The answer to the fan's question is...