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.
Anime and Manga
- Pretty common in shows about Otaku, for obvious reasons.
- Lucky Star frequently:
- comments about how chatspeak appears to have invaded Japanese talk shows;
- asks why all the pretty girls in a Dating Sim are single and want to be attached to the male hero.
- Genshiken is a tad more meta about it, with the Show Within a Show, and then them narrating the previews when Kujibiki Unbalance became its own show.
- One of the main highlights of Student Council's Discretion.[context?]
- Welcome to The NHK has a lot of conversations like this between Yamazaki and Sato, since they're trying to make a H-game together and Sato isn't an otaku like Yamazaki. For example, one scene has Yamazaki scolding Sato for trying to write the main heroine like a realistic girl, and then discussing the "patterns" found in games like Victorious Childhood Friends, Meidos and Robot Girls, explaining that these all work because she has no ulterior motive and simply is devoted to serving the protagonist. These conversations also serve to set up Sato thinking of Misaki as something of a soft-spoken Manic Pixie Dream Girl, which gets Deconstructed as the series continues.
- In Kyon and Sasaki's backstory in Kyon: Big Damn Hero, their usual conversation was about any trope Kyon could think at the moment, trope that was appropriately deconstructed by Sasaki. That's how Kyon's optimism and interest in the supernatural vanished in middle school.
- Haruhi, who reads the in-universe TV Tropes website, also lapses into this on occasion.
- In The Secret Collocation of Alex Mack, a story from the Mega Crossover setting A Brane of Extraordinary Women, Harry Dresden describes a tactic used by Terawatt and Stormburst as "Summon Bigger Fish", and actually makes a comment in his narration about explanations for the "trope-deficient".
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.
- 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...
- 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 also admonishes himself for missing an obvious video game trope (even using term trope) when he and Claudia are trapped in a virtual reality world.
- Heroes has this happen with, of course, Hiro, the series' Ascended Fanboy. He even goes so far as to point out to his Sidekick Ando where in the story he is at certain crucial moments. Hiro firmly believes himself to be the most Genre Savvy guy around, he just doesn't quite realise he's not actually living in the genre he's an expert on. It's more than a little adorable.
- 30 Rock: "How come there ain't no Puerto Ricans on Star Trek?! They got every race and life-form in the galaxy, except for Puerto Ricans! What's up with that?!"
- The Big Bang Theory does this a lot with Science Fiction tropes.
- Since comic book evil (and other things) exist in the world of The Middleman a lot of conversations revolve around tropes and how their in-universe equivalents deviate from them.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer does this a bit in general, but when the Trio become the villains in season six, their conversations almost solely consist of this.
- In one episode of Eureka, Vincent and Fargo are fairly Genre Savvy while watching a "reality show" that is actually a live feed from a biosphere experiment at Global Dynamics. Unfortunately, the Genre Savvy doesn't apply to their own crazy town.
- Friends has little side-jokes about this sometimes. In one episode, Chandler discusses Half Dressed Cartoon Animals with Phoebe.
- Everyone on Community, especially Abed.
- About 25% of the total runtime of Freaks and Geeks consists of either the "freaks" group discussing music or the "geeks" talking comedy or sci-fi.
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.
- Occurs in Series H "History" on QI with Stephen, Alan, David Mitchell, Sandi Toksvig, and Rob Brydon digitally edited into a photo of a combat squad. David (whose face was in a somewhat goofy expression) mused that he would be killed off early, while Sandi supposed she would be the woman brought along just to work the radio, but gets forced into flying a plane. Stephen would be the hero from the First World War, Rob gets killed off right before the end (just when you think he'll make it), and Alan survives the whole thing.
- Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes frequently discusses the ways his snowmen demonstrate Art Tropes. He and Hobbes also discuss Comic Books, as in this iconic dialogue:
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Family Guy often makes use of it for the sake of Take Thats or Non Sequitur humor. So far, they've managed to touch on everything from classic literature to "What's the deal with Superman throwing that cellophane 'S'?"
- In The Venture Bros, this is pretty much the basis of the characters 21 and 24. They're also very Genre Savvy.
- In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Michaelangelo does this all the time. In "Night of Sh'okanabo", he lists a bunch of horror movies tropes, marking him as a "scholar" of film (the only kind of scholar he is). He also discussed horror tropes in season 1's three-parter "Notes from the Underground".
- In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, specifically Luna Eclipsed, Princess Luna mentions the Royal We by name.
- In one episode of Phineas and Ferb, the Jackass Genie trope is talked about.