Today, I am listing 10 adored, beloved tropes that I despise. I hate them!
I am 100% in the minority, here. I know people love these tropes! You probably love them, too! But I don't like 'em, and I'm gonna tell you why.
A couple disclaimers: I am a human being with evolving tastes, so I reserve the right to change my mind. Additionally, there are always exceptions to the rule. Just because a trope is on my list doesn't mean I hate every incarnation of it. But generally speaking, these tropes grind my gears, and since this is my channel I reserve the right to bitch about it.
Let’s get on to the list! Spoiler Alert: I'm a ray of sunshine!
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Number 1: The Gravelly Voiced, Dead Inside Hero
This hero is everyone's favorite, so much so that we see him over and over and over again... They're always the main character. They always talk like they smoke a pack of cigarettes a day. They always have some trauma from their past that turns them into an emotionless husk of a man who saves the day and gets laid along the way.
I don't have an issue with the existence of this character, I just don't want to follow him as the protagonist. It's not interesting to follow a man who can't emote or only has one facial expression. Can he be a side character? Fuck, I did that with Orion. I want to follow a character who actually grows and develops. I want to follow a character who can be kind, or funny, or hell, have a personality at all!
Number 2: Bad Boy, Good Girl
I don't have a problem with the idea of the bad boy and good girl pairing. I just have a problem with the way it's usually executed. I love a “bad character” who's a rebel or an edgelord, and a “good character” who is smart and compassionate.
But this is almost never how the trope is executed. The bad boy is always an asshole chauvinist. The good girl is always an insecure dishrag. Can we maybe see layers in this trope? It has so much potential! Why are we going with the gross power imbalance of a predator and prey? A bad boy who defies societal standards and marches to the beat of his own drum could be sexy. A “bad boy” who gaslights his love interest is trash. Throw the whole book away! I read to get away from men like that, so please stop putting them in fiction. Thank you.
Number 3: Flashbacks
I'm sure they have a time and a place, but I cannot think of a single book I've read where a flashback brought any value to the story. I'm not talking about time skips or non-linear writing. I mean when the story itself is halted so we get to see a brief memory from long ago. It fucks up the flow, it's jarring and displacing, and there is almost always a better option.
Why didn't you just create a prologue? That way we're not yanked out of the story to relive a memory we're not even interested in in that moment. A conversation between characters where they're discussing that memory could easily do the same job without yanking the readers out of the specific scene. This shit just ain't for me. Use a non-linear format or a prologue. It works way better!
Number 4: “Historical Accuracy”
Ah, the “historically accurate” fantasy world…that isn’t actually historically accurate, but that’s beside the point. This fantasy world features an all-white cast, 90% of which is male. The remaining female cast, of course, is subjugated and sexually assaulted, because that is “historically accurate” to the fictional land this author completely made up. We get long info dumps about climate and farming and other shit no one remotely cares about. Everything is dreary and gray. Would it kill you to make a world with some color?
What kills me is the neckbeard who wrote this story is clearly trying to replicate medieval Europe, but then proudly proclaims they spent 10 years building this world. How did it take you 10 years to copy a history book, and then not even copy it right? The most exciting facet of fantasy is that you can do literally anything you want, and you chose to regurgitate the same tired setting and characters that every incel before you has already beaten into the ground. Congratulations on your complete and utter lack of originality and creativity!
Number 5: The Mentor
People love the mentor, and I get it! They're paternal or maternal and they bring the warm, fuzzy feelings...in you, not me. Mentors have never done much for me. I can think of one, maybe two, that I've enjoyed in any form of media.
The reasons for this are one, they almost always follow the same formula. The mentor teaches the character how to become the hero they need to be. We get long training montages and deep bonding, and pretty soon they're more than a mentor. They're like family! The parent that character never had. And that's when they tragically die. It's just the same story over and over again and I'm bored with it!
The second reason is I just can't relate to a main character with a mentor. I never had that kind of relationship. No one taught me how to achieve my goals. I had to figure it out on my own! So when a main character is blessed with a mentor, it distances me from that character's story. I can't relate. In fact, I feel like the character has it too easy. Obviously, this is a personal thing, but I would much rather watch a main character figure shit out on their own and succeed. That's the kind of story that would inspire me.
Number 6: Ownership Romance
I don't know what else to call this. I've heard it referred to as bonded or mated romance, but that doesn't feel very accurate... You can be bonded or mated without all the, “I own you,” rhetoric. This trope is very popular in multi-genre romance and it usually revolves around one love interest owning the other love interest for sexual reasons. So a sex slave? That's...hot.
People love this trope because of the power play. One person is dominant, the other is submissive. You can play with a dom and sub role without adding slavery to the mix! And if you must add slavery to the mix, at least make it consensual. This story always ends up with the sex slave falling in love with their master and I can't get into it. I'm sorry, it makes me uncomfortable. Your horrible story has affected me in the following ways!
Number 7: The Secret Baby
Secret love child, secret twin, secret father, secret any blood relative at all. I rebuke it! Anytime a series reveals a secret family member, I assume it's time to pack it in. The author is running out of ideas and they're relying on soap opera plot points to keep the motor running. I'm singling out the secret baby trope because this particular trope has gotten so popular that authors are starting with it in their book series as opposed to relying on it as a last resort.
Writers, why you leading with the secret baby? It's just not clever or interesting. Plus, babies kinda suck. All they do is cry and shit. How you gonna make that a compelling plot point?
Number 8: The Villain’s Point of View
I can only think of one book I've read where reading the villain's point of view improved the overall quality of the story. Usually the villain's point of view is there to show the readers the depth of their motivation. I understand that lots of people got shit for brains, but some of us don't need a whole other point of view to understand a bad guy's motivation. Power, greed, corruption, entitlement, and ego have been very common motivators throughout all of history.
We also don't need every single villain to have a tragic past. In fact, a lot of villains throughout history had pretty easy lives...and that's what made them such garbage people. Hardship breeds empathy! Not every villain needs to be damaged. We usually don't need to see their sad childhood or deep emotional scars. I know you think it adds layers to the character, but for me it just makes 'em less believable to the story. It's also kinda boring.
Number 9: Best Friends to Lovers
Friends to lovers can be tolerable, but best friends to lovers–particularly best friends who have known each other for years–fucking sucks!
Reason Number 1: One of the best parts of a fictional romance is the meet cute. We don't get a meet cute because we don't get to see them meet! They've known each other since they were in diapers.
Reason Number 2: If they've known each other for years, why are they only starting to date now? We either get the, "Gee, I never saw them in this light," angle, which is honestly kind of offensive. Why did you never see them in this light? Let me guess. Did they suddenly get hot, you shallow piece of shit? Or the writer goes with, "They've loved each other for years but never acted on it...for reasons.”
And the reasons are always trash, like:
"They're scared of rejection." - In ten years you couldn't grow a spine?
“They didn't want to ruin the friendship." - Is it even a real friendship if you're just fapping every time they leave the room?
Or the best one of all, "They would have pursued a romance, but their best friend was dating other people." - So the object of your affection is busy fucking someone else and you didn't take that as an answer? If they wanted to fuck you, they'd be fucking you.
I just can't with this trope. It's not romantic at all! Make it make sense!
Number 10: The Redemption Arc
Everyone goes nuts whenever I mention this, because it is one of the most on-trend tropes right now.
"You hate redemption arcs? What about Zuko!"
Look, I'm not saying I hate all redemption arcs. I don't hate all of anything on this list, except maybe ownership romance–that's pretty gross any way you slice it. But redemption arcs have become so popular that villains are getting redeemed even after they've done things that are irredeemable. Why ya trying to make me sympathize with a rapist? I don't wanna root for a dude who committed genocide!
Look, I'm a simple bitch. I just wanna see bad guys fall off a cliff!
So that's all I've got for you today!
These are ten super popular tropes that I absolutely cannot stand. Were any of your favorites on this list? If so, I'm sorry. (I’m not sorry…)
If you hate any of these tropes, please comment below! Misery loves company!
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