Today we’re talking about friendship and how much it sucks . . . sort of, not really. I asked you guys which tropes you’d like me to rip apart next and the landslide majority vote was friendship! Sidekicks, besties, friends to enemies, enemies to friends–we’re dissecting all that shit! I am breaking down the 10 worst friendship tropes in fiction and exactly why I despise them. Please note this is my personal opinion, not objective fact. If you disagree, that is your prerogative. On to the tropes!
This video is sponsored by BookBrush. As always, all opinions are my own.
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Number 1: The Friend-Zoned Loser
This is a trope you can find in pretty much every genre of fiction. The main character’s got a skinny boner for his smart, beautiful, and flawless best friend. But she doesn't feel the same way, and he just can't figure out why. It's cause you're a loser, dumbass! He's stupid, he’s annoying, he's entitled, and as much as he insists he's a nice guy, he's really not.
I'm so sick of seeing this trope! We are supposed to root for the guy and wish that the woman would see just how great he is, and maybe I would feel that way if he was actually great, but he's not. He's a stale cat turd that nobody wants to fuck. Just because you're a guy with hormones doesn't mean every heterosexual woman is required to like you back. Get your life together, and maybe I'll ship you with Pretty McPerky-Tits.
Number 2: The Friend-Zoned Hunk
This is the polar opposite of the previous trope. We usually see this in Young Adult fiction, especially if the main character is a girl involved in a love triangle. Two guys are madly in love with her. One is her best friend since childhood. He is tall, he's smart, he's gorgeous, and he just so happens to be the nicest guy in the world who is always there for her no matter what. The other is a petulant douchebag with a six-pack and good hair. Guess which one she's gonna choose? Bestie McHunk-Face should be a shoo-in. He is literally flawless, but she always ends up choosing the asshole, who you just know is the kind of guy who constantly insists on ditching condoms because they feel weird.
How is this trope so common that it's actually a cliche? Who is enjoying this trope? I just want to talk. Love yourself! That's all I'm saying.
Number 3: Ugly Girl, Pretty Girl
The best friend is beautiful with a swan neck, golden locks, and curves in all the right places. But the main character is a short, ugly cave troll and she's bitter about it. It’s fine if an ugly girl and a pretty girl become friends. I'm just tired of the envy it produces, at least in fiction. If you resent your friend’s appearance–something they can't entirely control–maybe you shouldn't be friends.
I will say I do love this trope when it’s properly subverted. An ugly chick and a hot chick are best friends and there’s zero resentment in that regard whatsoever. But I'm not gonna read a book about a girl moping because she has a unibrow and her best friend doesn't. Just wax it, dumbass.
Number 4: Guys and Girls Can’t Be Friends . . . ’Cause Genitals!
Look, if you can't be friends with another person just because your genitals fit together you need to grow up.
“My pee-pee fits into her pee-pee. Gross!”
It's extra annoying when this shit is perpetuated in fiction because it's not remotely realistic. Do friends sometimes thirst for one another? Of course. It happens! But sometimes friends . . . are just friends. Sometimes guys and girls like each other's personalities and nothing more. Sometimes it's because they're not each other's type. Sometimes it's because the boy likes boys and the girl likes girls. If you can't write a convincing friendship between different genders, I am convinced you're nine years old. You can't change my mind.
Number 5: The Lone Gay
In a group of 10 or more friends, we've got a single, solitary gay. You know, for diversity! First of all, one out of ten ain't diversity. Pretty sure that's just a token. Second, I believe this friendship group for about zero seconds. Like attracts like. People are friends with those they can relate to. Unless they live in an area where the pickings are slim, queer people are far more likely to befriend other queer people, ’cause straights are kind of boring. Of course, there are exceptions. Maybe they've been best friends since childhood. Maybe they're a found family of misfits. But nine times out of ten, you're more apt to find a massive group of queer friends with a lone straight, versus the other way around.
Number 6: The Asshole Friend
In so many books, there is always one friend who is a complete and utter asshole. If they’re female, they're usually a mean girl or a bully. If they're male, they're usually a raging misogynist. But the kind-hearted main character is close friends with this person, often even best friends. They see the good in them, and my question is, “Why?”
I can understand if you're stuck with this person and clearly very annoyed by them, but in any other situation, why are you voluntarily spending your time with them? It works for love interests, as well. If the main character is presented as this heart-of-gold do-gooder and their best friend or love interest is a flaming pile of shit, you're activating my side-eye. We are a reflection of the people we choose to surround ourselves with. If your best friend is a piece of shit, you're probably a piece of shit, too.
Number 7: The One-Sided Friendship
This is very common when we've got a book with a hero and a sidekick. The main character has a goal they're trying to achieve and the sidekick is hovering around like, “Yes, master. Whatever you say, master.”
I get that the main character’s story is the story, so we need to focus on them. However, I expect there to be some indication that the friend has a life of their own. Are they dating anyone? Got any hobbies? Or do they exist solely to throw out zingers and suck the main character’s dick? Not only will this prevent me from believing the friendship, but it'll also make me hate the characters involved. The MC is some kind of douchey taskmaster and the best friend has about as much agency as a paper bag.
Number 8: Perfect Harmony
I don't know if it's just me, but I've noticed a trend in fiction where best friends just get along perfectly. They never fight, they never argue, they just agree on all things, ’cause the author said so. I think this is the author’s attempt of showing how well they get along, but I'm gonna call bullshit. Cliff is my best friend and sometimes we disagree. Doesn't mean we're in a fight–it’s often playful and funny, but we are still separate people with our own opinions. And even if it is an argument, so what? Friends fight. They get on each other's nerves. I'd like to see more instances where friends bother one another because that's how relationships work. It's not all perfect harmony and unwavering support. People are flawed and rub one another the wrong way. I wanna see that in the next book that I read.
Number 9: The Fight
This is the opposite of the last point. They’re best friends and have been for years. Decades! Then they get into one fight. The fight. It usually isn't very serious. One of them is dating a jerk or maybe they’re spending too much time at work. You know, dumb shit. But they can't recover. The friendship is over. Over one fight. Seriously?
Friends fight. It happens. And if you've been friends for decades, it's probably happened a lot. How did this one fight over something so trivial destroy the foundation of your friendship? I could understand if you’re acquaintances, but best friends? Unless your friend fucked your wife or fucked your mom, or fucked anyone of importance, really, this should be something you can bounce back from. Dial it back a bit, the drama’s too damn high.
Number 10: Friends to Enemies, Back to Friends Again
You used to be best friends, but then she fucked your boyfriend, killed your dad, and set your house on fire. But now you're friends again because redemption arcs are on trend. I know I said friends should be able to bounce back from a fight, but there is a huge difference between that and tolerating repeated abuse, and then allowing the person to come back into your life. Have you no pride, or at least standards?
Look, I'm willing to overlook a lot of flaws, like not respecting the Oxford comma, or listening to Taylor Swift. But if you become my full-blown enemy, like “trying to ruin my life” status, that bridge is burnt. I don't care if it's fiction, write some characters with some goddamn common sense!
So that's all I've got for you today!
These are my 10 most hated friendship tropes in fiction. They’re stale, cringe, or just plain confusing. Write something new! Something fresh! Something that actually represents the human friendship experience! I don’t think I’m asking for too much . . .
What’s your least favorite friendship trope? Let me know in the comments below!
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