Characteristic Trope

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Tropes can become discredited in a number of ways. Usually this involves overuse or changes in social values. But sometimes it doesn't even take that.

When a Trope which may have been perfectly ordinary on its own is used so famously by one particular show, its meaning gets changed. Instead of what the Trope had meant before, it now means "Homage or parody of the show which used it famously." (Or, if you're less lucky, "Blatant rip-off of the show which used it famously.") Think of it as a kind of Real Life Flanderization of a Trope.

This can get annoying for writers, since the Trope may be a useful screen-metaphor in its own right, but they can't use it without creating unwanted associations.

Most of the tropes on this wiki which are actually named for a particular show are probably so characteristic of those shows that it's dangerous to use them if you can't handle the association.

Compare Trope Codifier and Trope Namer, which both identify a show for becoming well known for a Trope, but not necessarily laying such claims on future use of it. Contrast Ur Example, which is when a show uses what will eventually become a Trope, but wasn't actually one at the time.

See also Older Than They Think.

Examples of Characteristic Trope include:

Anime and Manga

Comic Books

  • People getting powers as a genetic trait? X-Men.

Fan Works

Film

  • The Planet of the Apes Ending is cliche for many reasons, but it's also so characteristic of the film for which it is named that you can't "unexpectedly" reveal a planet to be Earth without the audience flashing back to Charlton Heston.
  • The Rashomon is similarly characteristic of the film for which it is named, though since, at least in the US, most viewers will never have actually seen Rashomon, you can get away with it so long as you throw in some Lampshade Hanging to let the more culturally literate viewers know you're not trying to pass it off as your own idea.
  • Wonderful Life—The trope is indistinguishable from the movie.
  • Laser Blade weapons instantly draw comparisons to Star Wars.

Literature

  • Modern fantasy is so inextricably connected to Tolkien that—to quote fantasy author Terry Pratchett--"even if [the author/writer] has said 'Bugger me, I'm not going to write like Tolkien'", audiences usually associated some part of it with his writings.
  • Any use of a desert planet is going to bring Dune to mind.
  • Wizarding School = Harry Potter
  • Jekyll and Mr. Hyde referencing - any time two extremely different characters, usually one good and one evil, turn out to be the same person.

Live-Action TV

Western Animation

Video Games

  • If there's a Platform Game where the Goomba Stomp is the primary method of dispensing with enemies, it will inevitably have links to Super Mario Bros., whether intentional or assumed. It's become even stronger nowadays, as Super Mario Bros. is one of the few platformers to use this mechanic anymore.