Inverted Trope

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"To say, for instance, that education is beneficial, it's a commonplace; but to say that education is harmful, it's a contrary commonplace. It's ostensibly more foppish, but in essence it's one and the same."
Bazarov, Fathers and Children (a.k.a. Fathers and Sons)

A particular form of creatively reusing an existing trope: The Trope is turned exactly on its head. For example, a trope that typically applies to heroes is applied to a villain, or a trope that typically applies to males is applied to a female character (Gender-Inverted Trope). Some good examples are also in Genre Blindness, where rather than being blind to the conventions of the story-type they are in, the characters are presented as being hyper-aware of the conventions. A trope can often be inverted in more than one way. Indicative of Post Modernism.

See Playing with a Trope for a comparison with many other ways that a trope can be used.

Oddly enough, this page is still pretty tiny, despite inversions of tropes constantly being mentioned on other pages. Let's add in as many as we can, shall we? Of course, "In Soviet Russia, example writes you."

Examples of Inverted Trope include:

Anime and Manga

Comic Books

Fan Works


  • In the beginning of The Phantom Menace, the Jedi are trying to get into the control room where the Neimodians are. Lucas explained that this is an inversion of typical scene where a monster tries to get into the room where the protagonists are. And just like the monster may be scared away at the beginning of the film, so are the Jedi.
  • Star Trek: First Contact inverts the Artificial Limbs trope with the android Data by having living flesh grafted onto his body by the Borg queen. It doesn't last.
  • A Kid in King Arthur's Court while having a lot of Chickification manages to invert a lot of tropes surrounding the two Princesses. Princess Katie is established as a capable swordswoman and horse rider - the tomboy of the pair. She is then abruptly kidnapped and must be saved by the heroes. We are led to believe that Katie was the toughest of the two sisters while her older sister Princess Sarah was a typical medieval lady. The end reveals that Sarah was the one who had been dressing as The Black Knight and stealing from the rich to give to the poor. That's right: the ladylike princess turned out to be the badass one afterall.
  • Sweet Pea in Sucker Punch goes through most of the story being the stereotypical Sour Supporter, reluctantly joining the team, reminding everyone of how dangerous and stupid the plan is, and eventually calling it quits when things get too dangerous. When it is revealed that the Sour Supporter - which is usually a left of center character at most - is actually the plot central character and the Heroic Sacrifice is made for her instead of by her, the trope inverts.
  • The Caveman's Valentine inverts the generally parent-to-child So Proud of You by having Lulu say this to her crazy father.


Live-Action TV

  • In the pilot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, an apparently high-school-age couple is in the school at night; the girl is nervous about being out at night while the boy reassures her. Since it's clear from the title that this is a vampire show, the expectation is the boy will suddenly reveal himself as a vampire and bite the girl; instead the opposite happens, and the girl is the vampire.
    • Buffy herself is an inverted trope. Blonde teen girl who hunts down monsters, when normally they would hunt her. Word of God states that this was the entire point of the story.
  • Invoked by the title character of House: "It's not what you think! I know it looks like we're cleaning dishes, but actually we're having sex."
  • In the Babylon 5 episode "There all the honor lies," a gift shop opens in the space station that sells human masks for space aliens to wear.
    • Similarly, Londo takes issue with the state of the genitalia present on the dolls made in his likeness; when it's assumed he's upset about a breach of decency, he clarifies that he's upset because there are none shown. It turns out that all Centauri depictions of a nude form are anatomically correct, and he feels he's being literally portrayed as dickless.

Video Games

  • Brutal Legend inverts the trope Terminator Twosome, both in terms of where the twosome goes and what happens when they get there. Succoria, Emperor of the Tainted Coil, goes to the future to retrieve its technology; Riggnarok, humanity's champion, uses the opportunity to assassinate her by masquerading as one of her slaves. However, Succoria has a Villainous BSOD upon realizing that the future belongs to humankind, and Riggnarok takes pity on her. Love Redeems, but in this case, Redemption Equals Death by Childbirth, and Riggnarok ended up raising protagonist Eddie Riggs in the modern world on his own.
  • Final Fantasy V inverts Hopeless Boss Fight: Galuf's Heroic Sacrifice against Exdeath is an automatic success, since Galuf won't die at zero hit points.
    • Likewise, Final Fantasy X has a Final Boss battle where your entire party automatically has auto-life cast on them, meaning you can't lose. [1]
  • Easy Mode Mockery is inverted in Mega Man 9 and 10. You cannot earn Achievements in the harder difficulty modes, or when playing as Proto Man in 9.
  • Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean inverts the Vendor Trash trope. A certain item from a random drawer in someone's house (called the Small Debt) actually removes money from your wallet if you sell it. Holding on to it will cause it to evolve into Large Debt, which removes more money from your inventory if sold, and finally into the Snowballing Debt, which removes a tremendous amount of money. Fortunately, you don't have to sell it, and the game shows the price of selling it clearly.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic 2 your morally ambiguous mentor Kreia routinely gives you ANTI-friendship speeches, and your relationship values go down for answering like a Love Freak.
  • In Daikatana, those who played this game consider Superfly's and Mikiko's deaths to be the best part of the game, inverting the Alas, Poor Scrappy trope. Mind you, this isn't really an example, since this was unintentional; players just hate the game so much they take cynical glee in the suffering of its characters.
  • Gameplaywise Redemption Demotion appears in Warcraft III in the Scourge campaign. Arthas, the main character in the human campaign, by the end will have likely maxed out, acquired a number of really strong items, and as part of his Start of Darkness, Frostmourn, giving him a massive boost to melee damage Chaos-type damage for his attacks that allows him to deal full damage to all armor types. By the start of the Scourge campaign, he's just an ordinary Death Knight, and will never be as strong as he was before.
    • Another case of this with Illidian going into Frozen Throne. When the player controls him in the original campaign, he'll be able to go into a permanent demon form, which he loses in Frozen Throne, where the player is fighting him more often then using him, though he's still a level 10 demon hunter.
    • Yet another case, this time with the gameplay itself in the Scourge campaign from the Frozen Throne expansion. Arthas starts as a level 10 Death Knight, but he loses levels from one stage to the next, going from level 10 to level 2 as his power source (The Lich King, before Arthas merged with him) grows weaker. He gets all his levels back in time for the last stage of the game.
  • Kingdom Hearts Saix inverts X Marks the Hero.
  • Katawa Shoujo inverets The Art of Bra Removal in Rin's route. Hisao gets her bra off with no trouble whatsoever... But since Rin has no arms, he then has to put it back on, which turns out to be considerably more difficult.

Web Comics

Elan: So we thought our way past the test of the body--and fought our way past the test of the mind.

Western Animation

  • Superman: The Animated Series played straight the Hide Your Lesbians trope throughout the series, giving only the tiniest of hints that Maggie Sawyer was gay, despite her status as an out-lesbian in the comics since 1988. However, the series not only subverted, but inverted the Bury Your Gays trope when it came to Maggie. The opening scene of Apokolips...Now! contained a perfect set up for her death, she is blown out of her car during an attack by Intergang and the next shot has her badly burned and motionless beneath a crushing pile of rubble, without moving her eyes or her fingers, but she ultimately survives the encounter. That is a straight subversion of the Bury Your Gays trope. However, the show then went on to invert the trope as well, as the same scene that revealed that Maggie had survived (Subverting the trope) was also the first scene to hint at her sexuality, when she was visited in the hospital by a woman the DVD commentary and credits reveal to be Toby Raines, her partner from the comics. Bury Your Gays is often used as a way of getting rid of homosexual characters, of obscuring their nature before it could be brought into the story, but here it is used as a way to reveal a homosexual character. Also Inverted when her straight beat partner Dan Terpin is Killed Off for Real.

Other Media


Real Life

  • The real-life phenomenon of streaking was beautifully inverted in June 2009 when a fully-clothed person ran across the field at an annual naked rugby game in New Zealand.
  • James Buchanan knew upon leaving office that he was unpopular, and that he was blamed by many for the national crisis that was starting. Buchanan said at the time "history will vindicate me". No such luck, as he's still considered one of the worst American Presidents, more than a century and a half after leaving office.
  1. Unless you're all petrified. In which case you probably did it on purpose.