All The Tropes:Trope Workshop Guidelines

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Here are the rules for starting trope pages on All The Tropes, as well as how to use the Trope Workshop.

Are you starting a work page instead? You can skip this entirely because Works Pages Are a Free Launch -- although we do have guidelines for work pages, too. (Unpublished works by you go in your own userpage namespace.) If you think you'll need help with the write-up, you can continue on this page.

New Trope Checklist

  1. Look around to see if it already exists first. Looking at categories is a good way to help find trope pages. (Topical Tropes, which is an index of trope categories, is a great place to start.)
  2. Come up with a good name. The ideal trope name is clear, concise and witty, but two out of three ain't bad. "Clear" is the one that most people seem to think is important.
  3. Write a brief but descriptive summary of the trope. Try to include related tropes in the description, which you should have found from step 1. Note: This is required! Without a description, nobody else can add examples because nobody else knows what counts as an example. A trope candidate which is just a list of examples without a description will be subject to deletion. Also, "brief" does not mean a single sentence. We need somewhat more information than that.
  4. Think up three examples of the trope. Statisticians need at least three data points to establish anything, and we do too. See All The Tropes:How to Write An Example for guidelines on what a good example should (and shouldn't) have.
  5. Look into what categories the trope fits into, and add them to the page.

Once you have these minimums, take your write-up and examples, and post it into Trope Workshop:, using the "Trope Workshop" template to make sure you have all the purely mechanical bits in place. (The shortcut for Trope Workshop is YKTTW.) Let the proposed trope pick up responses for the next couple of weeks, and let people try to refine the description.[1]

Pay attention to the Discussion page for your candidate. Other wiki members (including members of the wiki admin staff) may post questions or point out issues with your trope. As the creator, it's your responsibility to respond and, if needed, address any problems that may exist. Be aware that the Trope Workshop is not a "fire-and-forget" thing -- if you simply plop a candidate into the workshop and then forget about it, it may be deleted unless other users decide to rescue it. You are expected to shepherd your candidate all the way to launch.


Tropes are launched from the workshop when the users who work on them agree that they are ready for prime time. At any time you or another user may post a message in your candidate's discussion page asking if it's ready for launch. This will usually trigger a vote on the part of the participating users. If there is a consensus that it is ready (using our usual rule-of-thumb of three more votes in favor than there are against), one of the admins will launch the trope by moving it into the main namespace. If they don't do it fast enough after a consensus has formed, feel free to poke them.

Once your trope is out in the wild, add backlinks from the examples so people can find the new entry, and be sure to add to appropriate categories and indices. (This of late has informally become part of the launch process performed by the admins, but it doesn't hurt to make sure everything that should have a link gets one.)

Prelaunch checklist

In order to be launched, a trope candidate should haveat least the following:

  1. A clear, understandable description of the trope in proper English. (Remember, no description = no trope, and the candidate will be subject to deletion.)
  2. At least five examples (hopefully ten or more, though - the Mods won't launch their own trope candidates without at least ten), each one with context.
  3. At least one trope category (beyond Category:Trope, which is added automatically by {{trope}}, and the category with the same name as the trope). More is better, though. (If you want to find a category and search isn't working, see the how-to on this page's Talk page.)

Adding anything else listed in the "What a Trope Workshop candidate should contain at the end" section below is just gravy, but will certainly help qualify the candidate for launch.

What a Trope Workshop Candidate Should Contain at the End

To determine if your candidate is a proper trope, try to eventually include as much as possible described below in the main text, before the examples. Where it makes sense, corresponding categories should be added to the candidate.

  • Everything on the Prelaunch checklist in the previous section.
  • Consistency type: How realistic the trope is and how often it's used compared to real life. Tropes can be completely unrealistic (Wraparound Background, Stock Visual Metaphors), present much more commonly in fiction than in real life (Catapult Nightmare, Stock Phrases) or be as common as in real life (Berserk Button). Note that if a said phenomenon happens as often as in real life and doesn't convey any meaning, it can easily fall into People Sit on Chairs territory.
  • Type of a trope: This can be a Narrative Device, Spectacle or something else.
  • Medium type(s): Which media use the trope. Some tropes are exclusive to one medium and can only be discussed or parodied in other mediums (Camera Lock On is a video game exclusive trope for an example), some are mainly in one medium, but can be present in other places too (Spikes of Doom for an example, are much more common in video games than in other media) and others can be found pretty much everywhere (Fire and Brimstone Hell is an example).
  • Origins: The earliest examples of a trope. Sometimes a trope has a reason why it happens and why it fell into use. Maybe they happen to imitate a work they're based on (Mascot with Attitude for an example), maybe it fell into use due to technical limitations during that time (Suddenly Blonde) or maybe this is due to laws and polices (Censorship Tropes).
  • Popularity through time: A trope should have a clear pattern. Try to include the information about the popularity of the trope through time, when the occurrences of the trope started to raise and when the popularity of the trope reached its peak and if the trope has fallen out of favor. Also pay in mind that a trope can be region-specific (a trope used in works only or mostly in certain countries or regions). For an example, there might be a trope exclusive to Romanian animation. If the examples of the trope are just random occurrences with no clear pattern, it has a danger of belonging to the Too Rare to Trope category.
  • Current Trope Life Cycle status: How seriously the trope is taken nowadays. It can be still an commonly-used trope, it can be a Discredited Trope when a trope is considered a cliché, it can be a Dead Horse Trope where parodies and Lampshade Hangings far outnumber straight examples, it can be an Undead Horse Trope when, despite being mocked a lot, is still used straight, it can be a Forgotten Trope when it's not used at all and it can be a Dead Unicorn Trope when the trope was rarely, if ever used straight at all.
  • As mentioned in the FAQ at Fuck No TVTropes, "analyze why a trope happens and not just when it happens". Describe why it's a trope - what triggers it in-story, what it leads to in-story, what happens when the trope is Enforced or Defied, and so on. You don't have to do all of these things, but please do at least some of them - a list of examples is not a trope.
  • Related tropes. This is the infamous "compare and contrast". What tropes are similar enough to merit a cross-reference here? Is it the direct opposite of any other trope? Is there a Super-Trope to this trope, or does it serve as one to two or more Sub-Tropes?
  • Categories. It's mentioned above and below, but it bears mentioning here, too: We want to see more than just "Trope" and the trope's name as categories. No trope exists in complete isolation -- what categories (things like "Pregnancy Tropes" and "Comedy Tropes") does your trope belong to? (If you're a TV Tropes Refugee, what we implement here as categories is what TVT calls "indexes". One big way they're different is that we put the category on the page, not the page on the index.)
  • Proper English grammar and usage: It doesn't matter if you hit all the other points above right on the head, if the trope candidate reads like it was written by ChatGPT, Google Translate or a dyslexic ten-year-old (or any/all of them working together), it will not get launched. And although wiki admins have been known to step in and do their best to translate trope candidates from whatever they were written in to proper English, it is not their responsibility to do so -- it is that of the user(s) who want to see the trope candidate go live. If the description is so badly written a reader can't figure out what it means, and/or the examples are so garbled their relevance to the trope cannot even be guessed at, the article has failed at what it is supposed to do, which is communicate clearly and succinctly a pattern in storytelling.

A Few More Bits of Advice

  • IMPORTANT: Copying verbatim from TV Tropes is copyright infringement, and a good way to earn both speedy deletion and a tempban. Tropes cannot be copyrighted, but expressions of tropes can be copyrighted - and the Creative Commons license that TV Tropes offers their text under isn't compatible with our Creative Commons license. See All The Tropes:Copyrights if you want to know more.
    • That doesn't mean we can't use the idea, though. What we need to do is take the fundamental idea and re-state it in a completely different way - not a sentence-for-sentence re-write of what's at TVT, but a completely different approach. This is a chance to show off your creative writing skills! (This, by the way, is why some of our newer tropes have different names than the equivalents at TVT.)
  • Read Not a Trope, People Sit on Chairs, and Too Rare to Trope before you start. This can avoid much embarrassment in the long run.
  • Once again: The page has to be well written, properly formatted, use correct markup and make sense. Make sure you're familiar with the wiki's Good Style and Text Formatting Rules. Check the page once it's written. There's nothing wrong with being a Serial Tweaker.
  • It's generally a better idea to write the whole page out in full at once than add it piecemeal, as someone going through the Trope Workshop category might happen across a half-finished page and decide to jump in and finish it themselves. You don't even have to write it out on the wiki - type the page up offline in a text editor, and paste it all in at once.
  • Helpful things to add that aren't examples are related tropes and the categories that this trope belongs in.
  • Just as nothing is completely Self Explanatory, no example is so well-known that no description is needed. An example that consists entirely of "Series... Just, Series." or "One Word: Series" isn't very informative or interesting.[2]
  • Don't dump all the examples together in a single lump. If you created the page with the Trope Workshop template, you should have all the media types already in the page, but if for some reason you created it by hand, you will want to import the Media Headers template to make it easy to break out the examples by media type.
    • Don't delete any media types your initial post doesn't use -- they're there for other users to add examples to.
  • Don't forget to delete any unpopulated media types just before you launch the trope -- but not before.
  • Don't forget to add all the categories that the trope belongs in to the page.
  • When the trope has been launched, it helps to go to the pages for its examples and add it there (there's nothing wrong with copy-pasting the example text). This is not mandatory, but all too often a trope page withers and dies because nobody even noticed it was added. A good rule of thumb is that a healthy trope page should have at least 15 wicks; if you absolutely can't get it there, you should probably add the category Pages Needing Wicks to the page. If there are tropes related to the one you launched, add "See also" sections to both tropes. The more pages link up, the better the Wiki Magic flows.
  • We have a number of templates used to insert standard markup into trope pages, like the examples banner and the top-of-page elements. Most of these will be automatically inserted for you when you create a trope workshop page with the Page Creator or the Workshop page, but if you want to find out what they do, and what other templates might be available to you, see our page All The Tropes:Our Custom Templates.

How Long Should a Trope Stay In the Workshop?

That's a good question. We are not TV Tropes, and we have a different third part of the Three Rules of Three - we do not have the kind of userbase present and contributing that can shepherd a trope candidate from suggestion to launch in three days. What has instead evolved here is a far more relaxed process of enhancement and revision during which a trope can linger in the workshop for upwards of six months or more if necessary. Several of the wiki admins review the Workshop on a regular basis, and will nominate candidates for launch or deletion based on their quality and how recently they've last been worked on; subsequent responses (or lack thereof) determine the fate of those candidates.

It is possible for a trope candidate to undergo several rounds of nomination, each of which prompts further work on the trope, until it reaches a point where it has been refined as much as it can, or no one cares any more to protest its deletion. Tropes which get almost good enough to launch but then are abandoned for weeks or months? They get deleted, after one try at getting anyone to push them over the wall.

A trope candidate which gets no response from tropers other than its creator, by the way, is unlikely to have a long life in the Workshop.

tl;dr: A trope stays in the Workshop until no one can improve it further, in which case it gets launched, or until no one objects when its deletion is proposed, when it is deleted.

  1. While you're waiting, look at other Trope Workshop entries, and let other people know if they're good tropes. Add any works using those tropes you can think of.
  2. And at least one moderator puts "needs context" on this sort of entry as a near-Pavlovian reflex, so they'd need to be cleaned up eventually. Better to do them right the first time.