Conversational Troping

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

The characters are talking about tropes. They're not talking about tropes from their own series, so it's not Lampshade Hanging. They're not talking about tropes in a way that goes "hey, we're aware that we're fictional", so it's not Meta Fiction. They're not actively involving the viewer, so it's not Post Modernism. They're not tearing down the tropes, so it's not Deconstruction.

They're just talking, in a Seinfeldian Conversation kind of way, about conventions found in media in general. Pointing them out, going "Huh, that's interesting", idly coming up with possible reasons for them. Starting to sound real familiar, right?

Often used as a Shout-Out, in a similar vein as an Affectionate Parody—or not. Sometimes it's subtle Lampshade Hanging, describing tropes that occur later in the work, or earlier, but not talking about those events. Either that, or the writers/characters just found some time to kill.

Compare Discussed Trope, I Always Wanted to Say That.

Examples of Conversational Troping include:

Anime and Manga

Fan Works


  • Hot Fuzz has the lead pair discussing various cop movie tropes, with Butterman feeling that he's missed out and Angel denying that they exist in Real Life. Of course, all of them are gloriously invoked by the end.
  • In Clerks:

Randal Graves: Which did you like better? [Return of the] Jedi or The Empire Strikes Back?
Dante Hicks: Empire.
Randal: Blasphemy.
Dante: Empire had the better ending. I mean, Luke gets his hand cut off, finds out Vader's his father, Han gets frozen and taken away by Boba Fett. It ends on such a down note. I mean, that's what life is, a series of down endings. All Jedi had was a bunch of Muppets.

    • Other movies in the View Askewniverse also tend to feature this, if only a little.
    • Not to mention the beginning of the double-Affectionate Parody, Trooper Clerks: The Animated One-Shot (which, of course, was a two-parter):

Trooper Randal: Which did you like better: Mallrats or Chasing Amy?
Trooper Dante: Chasin' Amy.
Randal: Blasphemy!
Dante: Chasing Amy had the better story! Guy likes girl... girl likes girls... girl has sex with guy, then dumps guy for more girls -- it ends on a dark note. That's what life is: A series of dark notes. All Mallrats had was a bunch of... sex jokes.

  • Adaptation.
  • The Scream movie series is more or less a protracted discussion of horror movie tropes, with object lessons in each.
  • Breaking Away: "You know how, in cartoons, when somebody gets hit in the head with a frying pan, and their head looks like the frying pan, with the handle and everything; then they go boing, and their head goes back to normal? Wouldn't that be great?"
  • Swingers features a scene where the leads are sitting around a table discussing the films of Martin Scorsese and the inherent difficulty of filming in a casino as well as their love of the one-take restaurant entry shot in Goodfellas. They later emulate this shot when when entering a club and one of the first parts of the film is shot in a casino.
  • Galaxy Quest is practically made of this.[context?]


  • Northanger Abbey.
  • Almost every fantasy novel ever written has a protagonist who, when cold and wet and hungry and exhausted, will reflect on how his favourite stories never said anything about the heroes having to put up with this.
  • It's possible to do this without Lampshade Hanging and still accidentally discuss your own story. In a Thriller novel entitled Beauty, the love interest talks about how all the fish in her fish tank were chosen because they reminded her of characters in a book, then adds that she originally planned to use fish for Lolita and Humbert Humbert but changed her mind. The hero goes into an aside about how Lolita is his favorite book, because of its skillful use of an Unreliable Narrator who seems nice at first but is in fact a Complete Monster. Said "hero" is a plastic surgeon trying to sculpt the perfect face, so you can guess where this is going.
  • One of The Dresden Files novels has a discussion of which member of the Fellowship everyone is. Harry objects to not being assigned Gandalf, until it is explained that Sam is the real hero of the story. And there's a throwaway line about a certain person being Boromir—said person later betraying the group.

Live-Action TV

  • On Scrubs, the characters discuss when characters are driving away in a car, but their conversation doesn't get quieter. Of course, they're in a car, driving away, and they stay loud and clear.
  • In Stargate SG-1, Carter picks apart the poor planning on the part of the aliens in Signs.
  • In one scene from Dead Like Me, George, the viewpoint character for the series, informs her fellows of the roles play they in the ensemble cast. Later in the episode, the oldest and wisest of the troupe casually "breaks trope", much to George's surprise.
  • Boone and Locke discuss Red Shirts in the Lost episode "All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues".
  • Warehouse 13 also discusses Red Shirts. When Myka feels that Artie's secrecy about their current mission could prove life-threatening for them.

Myka: He thinks we're...
Pete: Redshirts?
Myka (nodding sadly): Yeah.
Pete: First of all, we're not redshirts. And second of all... It's so cool that you knew what I meant!

    • Also this dialog in Season 3 Episode 3

New Agent Jinx (after missing during Tesla Traget practice): "Firing a Ray Gun isn't as easy as it looks in the movies."
Pete: "Hey, No. It is very hard to fire ray guns in the movies. How many times have you seen a Storm Trooper hit what he's firing at? Not once.

Tony: Ah, let me guess... You're that person in horror movie that decides that since all your friends are dead, you really need to go check out the demonic, breathing noise down in the basement.
Kate: Well, it beats being the girl who twists her ankle and gets everybody else killed.

Newspaper Comics

Calvin: Mom doesn't understand comic books. She doesn't realize that comic books deal with serious issues of the day. Today's superheroes face tough moral dilemmas. Comic books aren't just escapist fantasy. They're sophisticated social critiques.
Hobbes: Is Amazon Girl's super power the ability to squeeze that figure into that suit?"
Calvin: Nah, they all can do that.

Video Games

  • Characters in Trinity Universe are fond of this. Especially the prinnies and Etna.
    • That's a carry over and logical extension of things from Etna's original series, Disgaea. Characters in those games love to lampshade gameplay mechanics and poke fun at expected tropes (Like the ability to save before a boss fight). They also discuss their own levels and character titles so it's hard to tell at times if it's just them breaking the fourth wall or this is normal topics of conversation for people in their situations (Etna's drop to level one from 1000 due to a summoning gone bad for example is a plot point in the second game and her entire motivation for being a playable character). Also the Episode previews, which is nothing but parodies and playing with tropes (despite the next episodes rarely ever matching them) originate here.

Web Original

  • The Trope of the Week series Echo Chamber does this rather often, which is to be expected in a series about tropes.
  • Dragon Ball Abridged has a pair of mooks discuss the Wilhelm Scream. While trying to imitate it, they fail until Vegeta kills them, which makes them do it for real.
  • In episode 21 of Princess Tutu Abridged, this is the only way Autor speaks, leading Fakir to the conclusion that he's crazy. He's really crazy.
  • Team Kimba in the Whateley Universe is a group of mutants with superpowers who go to a Super-Hero School and live in a world with superheroes and supervillains. Plus they're Genre Savvy. Naturally they do this, sometimes in the middle of a superhero fight. In the battle against superpowered ninjas during Parents' Day, Generator (half-Japanese) tropes all over her battle with a Japanese ninja who is a gravity Warper.

Western Animation