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"One of the things we tried to do with the show was to try and do something that was so unpredictable that it had no shape and you could never say what the kind of humor was. And I think that the fact that 'Pythonesque' is now a word in the Oxford English Dictionary shows the extent to which we failed."
Terry Jones at the US Comedy Arts Festival, 1998

You're sick of all of those Trope Overdosed stories. It's getting on your nerves. Why doesn't anybody do anything original? You know! You're going to write one yourself! So now you compose a list of tropes, and cross out what you can't have in your story. Work something out afterwards.

  1. You can't have a hero or a villain. That's okay, there have been works that did that.
  2. You can't like anything you write about. That's okay, you will write about what you hate-- No, wait! You can't do that, either.
  3. You will not go overboard with your descriptions, but you can't limit those descriptions either.
  4. You will not have a narrative in your story. That means no plot, no dialogue, no characters. Your story will be about nothingness. Just a page or two describing the non-existent scenery that is utropeia. Or maybe just describing nothingness.
  5. You cannot avert any tropes, but you can't use Averted Trope either. Sound like some sort of Logic Bomb? Well, you have to avert that now too.

Due to the virtual impossibility of writing a story without tropes, it is generally not to be undertaken except as an artistic challenge, and attempting to not use tropes is not necessarily intelligent writing; instead, the trick with intelligent writing is to take old tropes and use them in a new way. Watchmen is considered a masterpiece, even though nothing in it was new. It just used the old in a fascinating way. William Shakespeare lifted all of his plots from other works. The Belgariad is one of the most critically acclaimed fantasy series in modern fiction, and was deliberately filled with every trope, convention and cliche that the writer could think of.

The closest thing to a Tropeless Tale is TV static from a channel you can tune to, but don't get -- Snowy Screen of Death! Curses! You Are Too Late!

Some works have come close to reaching this nebulous quality such as After Last Season, Koyaanisqatsi, My Dinner with Andre, The Man with the Movie Camera, Russian Ark , "Decasia" and quite a few True Art Is Incomprehensible works, although all of these are arguable and subjective, and well... they tend to come up with tropes anyway.

To put it another way, The Tropeless Tale is this. [1]

Examples of The Tropeless Tale include:
  • An Aesop
  • Awful Truth: Let's face it...
  • Break Them by Talking: That's right, go ahead. Try and make a tropeless tale. It is impossible.
  • Hypocrite / Hypocritical Fandom: If one is proclaiming their favorite work as a "tropeless" work, while criticizing a work they don't like for having tropes, they are pretty much doing this.
  • ~Poe's Law~: Is this serious, or is it a challenge to all you writers out there with a bit of guts?
  • Second Person Narration
  • Self-Referential Humor
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: Perhaps the closest thing to a work with no tropes is a work that uses tropes that make absolutely no sense. That said, this is still subverted as these works still have tropes.
  • True Art Is Not Popular: Subverted. According to the It's Popular, Now It Sucks crowd, all popular works are Cliche Storms and only unpopular works can be considered "tropeless". Oh, Wait!...
  • Unpleasable Fanbase: Even if you manage to create a tropeless tale, someone will still find something in your work to bash and/or criticize.
  • ~You Can't Fight Fate~: Even if it would be possible to succeed any work created that way would act as a trope maker for new tropes. If you found a way around that, "tropeless tale" itself would become a trope. Worse yet, since you're reading this it already is.

 ...and that, folks, is the reason why we say Tropes Are Not Bad around here.


  1. Oh wait.
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