Tropes Are Not Bad. But some tropes haven't aged well.
Over the course of time, a trope may be overused, misused, opposed, made obsolete, subverted on many notable occasions, associated with a specific work, or just end up being widely disliked. Eventually, a trope may reach the point where it becomes one which none should dare use seriously and only belongs in parody, satire, homage or pastiche. Often, if one of these is used straight, people will assume it's a Red Herring.
In some cases, a trope may be discredited due to changes in our knowledge of history or science. Use of the trope in fiction may change to reflect this. See the Time Marches On index.
Note: Just because a trope is discredited does not necessarily mean it is not Truth in Television.
Note #2: This is not bad writing because the writing itself is bad, but because the writer doesn't know its audience. After all, Tropes Are Not Bad.
Omnipresent Tropes are immune to being discredited, mostly because those tropes are too natural to the medium of storytelling to ever be considered tired cliches. Undead Horse Trope describes tropes that have been subverted and parodied dozens of times, but aren't quite discredited.
See also Dead Horse Trope, where subversions or parodies outnumber straight use in recent works. See also Forgotten Trope, which describes tropes that aren't used in recent works at all; they may have been considered Discredited Tropes years ago, or just fell from use for other reasons.
Compare Discredited Meme.
- Air Vent Passageway: Busted.
- All Just a Dream: Too often abused as a Deus Ex Machina / Stock Epileptic Trees.
- Ambiguously Gay: Except in children's media.
- Beautiful All Along: Because it gives the unfortunate implication that you have to change yourself to be happy.
- British Royal Guards: Never used for anything other than comedic effect, but nowadays the once common gags involving a guard's effort to remain still under immense pressure have been replaced with ones where voluntary movement on the guard's part is observed, side-stepping more commonplace expectations.
- The Calls Are Coming From Inside the House
- Catch Your Death of Cold
- Celibate Hero: Not taken seriously anymore in fiction unless the hero is simply physically or medically unable to have sex. Even then, romance at least is assumed.
- Cement Shoes
- The Chosen One
- Chocolate-Frosted Sugar Bombs: Kid cereals are actually more nutritious than this these days.
- Coincidental Broadcast
- Cure Your Gays: Values Dissonance, anyone?
- Cut and Paste Note: In modern fiction, due to the prevalence of more convenient and harder to trace forms of anonymous communication. If used in any sort of forensic drama, you can bet the CSIs will admonish the culprit as an amateur and get damning evidence off the note.
- Cut Phone Lines: Largely discredited in any story set after the widespread adoption of cell/mobile phones.
- This has caused the trope to generally morph in various ways: the area has no reception, dead/missing battery, interference due to solar flares, etc.
- Dead Pet Sketch
- Declarative Finger: Often used by the authors to imply that the character doing so is just trying to come across as profound, which in turn is used to imply that the character is actually saying something NON-profound.
- Does This Make Me Look Fat?: You see this every day, so it's not really a plot device.
- Drunken Montage: Except when it's Played for Laughs.
- Eek! A Mouse!
- Face on a Milk Carton: Thanks to, in the U.S. at least, the Amber Alert system which allows missing children's names to be broadcast on television or on expressway signs within minutes.
- Females Are More Innocent: Anyone who still believes this today is a cautionary tale waiting to happen.
- Girls Have Cooties
- Henpecked Husband: As in Real Life, divorce is a live option for any man in this situation.
- Hysterical Woman: Not only a Double Standard; a tired cliché.
- I Broke a Nail
- Innocent Innuendo: These days, audience reactions tend not to be "whoa, are they doing it?", but "okay, what's really going on?"
- I Read It for the Articles (in Real Life)
- Is There a Doctor In the House?
- It's Quiet... Too Quiet
- Japan Takes Over the World: Seemed likely, until the Lost Decade hit. They still haven't completely recovered.
- Leprechaun: Only in Ireland itself though, not in America or elsewhere.
- Little Green Men: The Grays have made them obsolete.
- Mars and Venus Gender Contrast
- Men Can't Keep House
- The Natives Are Restless
- Nineties Anti-Hero
- Officer O'Hara: There are still Irish-American cops in entertainment, but they tend to be less stereotypical. The whimsy and the just-off-the-boat accent tend to only be used straight in Historical Fiction these days.
- Phone Trace Race: Still used on occasion by very dense Hollywood hacks, but with caller ID, the popularity of shows like 24 which have mostly ditched this trope, and a general paranoia about Google and Facebook tracking your every move, writers nowadays tend to err on the side of the FBI/NSA/CIA being too good at tracking your every move.
- Poor Man's Porn: The Internet Is for Porn, so you don't need to settle for the Victoria's Secret catalog anymore.
- Quicksand Sucks: Except in video games.
- Santa Claus Tropes: Santa has become such a commercial icon of Christmas and as such overexposed via countless Christmas specials and merchandise, that it is pretty much impossible to play any trope related to him straight now, unless you have a really young audience in mind or have no self-respect for yourself as a storyteller.
- The Savage Indian: Still pops up sometimes but has mostly been replaced by the Noble Savage and the Magical Native American.
- The Scream
- They Wasted a Perfectly Good Sandwich
- Sex Equals Love
- Small Annoying Creature
- Standard Hero Reward
- Standing in the Hall: Parodied in some Japanese works still; but not used in Real Life as much. In western countries, similar variants aren't used due to kids taking it as an opportunity to wander around the halls.
- So Beautiful It's a Curse: A guaranteed way to lose the audience's sympathy, so seldom used in serious works, anyway. Some fanfic authors still use it straight; skilled writers may employ it to achieve a certain effect.
- Note that this really only applies to characters who Wangst about how people don't take them seriously because of their beauty. Characters who are victimized by sexual harassment or stalkers because of their beauty are still much more sympathetic.
- Some of My Best Friends Are X
- Old magic tricks like the Disappearing Box and Saw a Woman In Half are best not done in their straight form these days, as everyone's seen them dozens of times and probably knows how those tricks are done.
- In modern chase scenes the Fruit Cart, Sheet of Glass, and Baby Carriage are only included with at least a wink—for serious chases something else that will go splat is used.
- Girls Do Not Like Pornography: While still true to some extent, women watching/reading pornography has become more common in recent times. This started with the rise in popularity of romance novels during the 80's and 90's and has continued with women today, for example, watching pornography with their boyfriends.
- In a Big Damn Heroes moment, the villain is struck from behind. He'll then turn around and ask "WHO DARES?!" before a head to head battle breaks out. Now it's only brought up for others to make fun of it.
- The Thing's "It's clobberin' time!" line is never played straight anymore. Most characters say the line for him, while others (Hawkeye) insult him for not coming up with any other lines in his decades of superhero work.
Hawkeye: Oh, we're still pretending The Thing isn't annoying?
- While hero designs have moved away from no/small masks (or away from secret identity entirely) jokes about the apparent implausibility of Superman's identity have fallen out of favor because It's Been Done, Christopher Reeve's performance in the films and the art in All-Star Superman showed it could plausibly be done and the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths stories giving and sticking to a plausible explanation: There is no actual reason to suspect the godlike alien that lives in Antarctica spends his time pretending to be a normal human.
- Award Bait Song: Has been slowly vanishing since its peak in The Nineties. Revised rules in the Academy Awards have also ensured that they're no longer award bait.
- Disaster Movies involving airplanes - since Airplane! came out, no-one could possibly take one seriously. Unless it was based on a true story.
- One contemporary airplane disaster movie tried to play itself straight for the first part of its production process - then someone realized there were snakes on the plane.
- Jittercam, as noted on its page, has developed a large enough Hatedom to become this, mainly due to its obscuring the visuals and giving audiences headaches. The criticism of its use in The Hunger Games has codified its status as a discredited trope, as it is the film's most cited flaw.
- Several Cracked.com articles discuss tropes deemed discredited. These include 6 Sci-Fi Movie Conventions (That Need to Die) and 5 Overused Twist Endings It's Time For Movies to Retire.
- Said Bookism: In these days, it's often considered redundant.
Live Action Television
- The line "Hi, honey, I'm home!" was a stock standard phrase in many American family sitcoms from the 1950s and 1960s. Back then it was used straight forward, but since then it has been discredited due to its corniness and unrealistic routine.
- The album art for Dance Hall Crashers' "Honey, I'm Homely" parodies this, with a woman cringing in terror from a sinister looking man entering her home, bearing a bouquet of flowers.
- 30 Rock also parodies this, when Tracy explains that he never does the same thing twice. Flashback to him doing the line "Honey, I'm home!" on the first take but then changing it with ever iteration: "Pacman, I'm Jewish! Jeffrey, we lost the tournament!""
- Digital Piracy Is Evil: Despite still lingering today, companies have ultimately realized that the war against piracy is a lost cause, and have taken incentive to work around it instead. More recently they have been pushing a new bill (s.978, Protect IP, SOPA) to put an end to piracy forever. Although in the United Kingdom, the Digital Economy Bill may keep this as not quite a discredited trope, as it seems that public opinion is against the bill, despite politicians' attempts at copyright law changes. Values Dissonance, indeed.
- Screamers have received two major blows over the Internet's history. Initially, when flash movies and games were still the norm, there were no clear distinctions between screamers and legitimate pages, creating a minefield for fearful site goers; this meant less traffic for sites like FunnyJunk and WinterWorld. Later, with the advent of video over flash files, viewers were able to scroll to the end of the video to see if any suspicions were confirmed, removing all suspense and defeating the purpose of screamers. They have since been replaced by the trap video, which puts the scare at the beginning of the video, and aims not to make individuals jump, but to cause outrage within specific audiences. Furthermore, they've also been overshadowed by Rickrolls as the Internet's prank of choice.
- Slow-Loading Internet Image: Increased speeds in most of the developed world have this trope on its way to Forgotten Trope territory.
- There Are No Girls on the Internet: The online population has reflected real-world gender distributions since 2001 or so.
- Mascot with Attitude: Started with poorly made copycats of Sonic the Hedgehog, the Trope Codifier, and solidified by Sonic's gradual decline.
- Monster Closet: In first-person shooters. Present in shooters in mid 1990s to early 2000s but mainly replaced by offscreen or onscreen spawning.
- One Bullet At a Time: Subjective; was originally a technical limitation, but can still be enforced for gameplay reasons (i.e. prevent some forms of Spam Attack).
- Random Encounters: As a remnant of technical limitations of video games and its tabletop origins, they're lately replaced by other methods to engage a fight.
- Some games made in RPG Maker play with this trope, by having the "Random Encounters" actually be regular encounters, but with the wandering monsters being invisible.
- Tabletop Games still use random encounters fairly frequently, where they're just a trope used in some games where they fit the flavor better. Additionally, some pretty big games such as Fallout 3, many MMOs, any dungeon-crawler patterning itself after Diablo, and most of the JRPG genre still use these types encounters. This may be an Undead Horse Trope instead.
- Real Is Brown: Discredited due to rampant mockery and the rise of Orange-Blue Contrast.
- Video Games Are For Nerds: This was gradually becoming discredited when the Playstation 1 was released. By the time the PlayStation 2 became popular, it was pretty much dead. Yet, many gamers (probably as a symbol of pride) still seem to hang on to it.
- While still common enough the target seems to have moved a bit with the nerds now only being obsessive or interested in a particular genre (e.g. MMORPGs) or niche (e.g. Japanese dating sims). On the other side there has also been a rise in Video Games are For Frat Boys, again, depending heavily on the games being depicted (FPSs and sports games seem to be the most common) and their attitude towards them.
- "I Want" Song: This became discredited for a while after Disney and its competitors milked the Broadway musical cartoon formula for all it was worth—the makers of Toy Story even intentionally avoided this, in order to distinguish it from those films. That said, there's enough nostalgia left for it now to allow it to return in recent films like The Princess and the Frog, but it's nowhere near as prevalent as it was in the past.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: At least in Western Animation, ever since Disney and its imitators ran the trope into the ground during the Golden Age. Still played straight in Japan to this day, though.
- This trope is not as discredited in Western Animation these days as it was in Golden Age western animation though.
- Not entirely discredited, but at least diminished since the 1990s are the fastpaced "cartoony" cartoons with gimmicky sound effects, weird body transformations and chase scenes. A lot of cartoons nowadays have more realistic action on the pace of The Simpsons, which resembles live-action TV more closely.
- As of Feb. 16, 2012, Japan's debt-to-GDP ratio is 235% and growing. The US is at 98%, while Greece is currently at 159%. Furthermore, Japan has been experiencing deflation for most of the past 15 years. To make matters worse, the population is aging fast, meaning there are fewer in the workforce able to support retiree programs.