Invoked Trope

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
(Redirected from Invoked)

Cartman: Ah, Stan, Kyle, Kenny, You're just in time!
Stan: Oh No.
Cartman: Oh Yes! I am just about to flashback to the days of our founding fathers!
Kyle: Cartman, you're supposed to be studying! What the hell is all this!?!

Cartman: I have programmed Tivo to record over 50 hours of The History Channel. When Tivo is full, both Tivo and I will both be dropped into the water, combining our electro-whatever fields and sending me back into a flashback of history!
South Park, "I'm A Little Bit Country"

The writer invokes a narrative Trope by having a character consciously set it up.

Some methods:

Compare Exploited Trope (not making the Trope happen, just taking advantage of one happening). Contrast Defied Trope, Discussed Trope.

Examples of Invoked Trope include:

Anime and Manga

  • In Yu Yu Hakusho's Dark Tournament arc, Kuwabara deliberately invokes Yusuke's Unstoppable Rage by allowing Toguro to kill him, or so he thinks -- Toguro doesn't actually kill him, but letting Yusuke think he had has the same effect. Since Toguro wanted to fight Yusuke at max power, he probably counts as invoking it too.
  • The Locked Room Mystery Trope is invoked in the Suzumiya Haruhi episode "Remote Island Syndrome" by Koizumi, who wanted to keep Haruhi occupied.
  • In an episode of Tenchi Muyo!, Ryoko and Ayeka engineer Crash Into Hello-type meetings in order to get closer to Tenchi... even though they've known him for months.
    • Thus clarifying something very important. Sasami is an evil, evil woman.
  • Every few episodes of Keroro Gunsou, Momoka will try to stage a Rescue Romance in order to get closer to Fuyuki. For one reason or another, it never seems to work.
    • For the most part, this is because she's trying to be rescued by Fuyuki.
  • In Dragonball Z, Gotenks attempts to invoke My Name Is Inigo Montoya by "letting" himself get beat so he can have a last-minute comeback and inevitable victory, with a... predicable result. In short, all his friends get killed one by one, and later the villain blows up the planet.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima! has Kotaro invoking Idiot Hero, claiming that Negi would be a better fighter if he acted more like an idiot. It actually makes some sense, as Negi's greatest weakness is that he tends to overthink everything.
  • Kagura from Azumanga Daioh has Sakaki invoke her Running Gag of cats biting her in order to meet a wild mountain cat on a school trip. Partially subverted when the cat comes and doesn't bite her.
  • Ayano's father tries to invoke Bodyguard Crush to pair her up with the immensely powerful Kazuma in Kaze no Stigma. Unfortunately for him and his wallet, Kazuma is even more Genre Savvy and cheerfully milks him for all he's worth.
  • Kamina of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann fame absolutely refused to combine mechas with Simon until he performed a Transformation Sequence with him, even while in the middle of combat.
  • In Gundam Seed Destiny, Meyrin Hawke helps Athrun escape from soldiers searching for him by invoking Distracted by the Sexy via Modesty Towel. Two invoked tropes for the price of one! Extra points: she wasn't actually naked underneath the towel, she just got her hair wet and then wrapped the towel around her clothes to make it look like she'd just gotten out of the shower.
  • Code Geass. It's simple enough. If you beg someone, anyone, to save your defenceless, Token Loli Empress, then there's a good chance that your Large Ham, sort-of-enemy will pull out a shiny new mecha and do so.
  • In Sailor Moon Rei attempts a Crash Into Hello in order to meet Mamoru. It doesn't go as planned but still works.
  • In Rental Magica, one character makes her confession of love by tying a literal Red String of Fate between her finger and his. Since she's a mage, it just might work.

Comic Books

  • In Dungeon Zenith, the keepers of the dungeon create a rumor about a kidnapped princess. But they unwillingly use the name of an existing princess. Then she walks to the dungeon with her secret lover, to make her father believe he saved her.

Fan Works



  • Attempted in Good Omens, where Anathema Device, after trying all other methods to find her book, dramatically pretends to give up, flop down, and let her gaze casually fall on a patch of dirt.
  • The Theory of Narrative Causality is a measurable law on Discworld, so there are many invocation of tropes throughout, some more successful than others.
    • In Guards! Guards!, the main characters invoke the Million-to-One Chance during a critical arrow shot - they deliberately make it harder to aim (using blindfolds and standing on one leg), in order to get the odds of a direct hit down to exactly a million to one. They don't succeed, mind, but when the dragon blows up the building they're standing on, the narration continues, "Fortunately, the odds of anyone surviving the ensuing explosion were exactly a million to one."
      • Quite a lot of this happens in the same book, in fact. When the Big Bad (or The Dragon to a dragon, depending how you look at it) calls guards to arrest Captain Vimes, the guards are reluctant to try to arrest him as he is clearly unarmed and outnumbered.
    • Later in the series, Vetinari orders Vimes to hand in his badge, specifically to invoke Turn in Your Badge and the inevitable determined solving of the crime afterward. Subverted in that Vetinari realizes too late that he's triggered a Heroic BSOD in Vimes instead.
    • The GURPS Discworld Role Playing Game actually has rules for this: A spell that lets you twist narrative tropes, as well as a caution that just because you set yourself up as the Hero Who Saves the Town From the Evil Troll doesn't mean you're not actually One of the Dozen Hapless Characters Who Get Killed by the Troll Before the Hero Shows Up or, if the story is being told from a troll perspective, The Human That Gets Smooshed by the Troll. "Troll stories aren't very subtle."
  • Tom Sawyer runs his life this way. It helps that Mark Twain runs Tom Sawyer's life this way. Of course, Tom probably knows that.
  • The villain in The Jennifer Morgue by Charles Stross casts a reality-warping spell which forces his life into the structure of a James Bond movie, with him as the villain. He plans on stopping the spell after he captures the person playing the Bond role; that way, the pawn goes from being a super-suave man of action to a simple civil servant out of his depth, and it'll be too late for anyone else to step in. He thinks it's the hero--it turns out that the hero is actually the Bond girl, and his girlfriend is Bond.
  • Several characters in Mercedes Lackey's Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms series deliberately invoke tropes when it will help them or harm their enemies. They have force due to the presence of an ambient, powerful magic in the land called the Tradition, which causes events to follow the fairytale they most resemble.
  • The Tenant of Wildfell Hall: When Gilbert Markham hears a rumor that Helen has been widowed and is getting remarried, he instantly packs up and leaves town, walking the final six miles when he can't find any transportation, intending to burst into the Church and interrupt the ceremony if he has to.
  • The Cineverse trilogy by Craig Shaw Gardner is a giant exercise of invoking a trope, with lots of little lampshades hanging within it. The main characters (particularly the Guardian of the Multiverse and the Multiversal Conqueror) are Genre Savvy and therefore frequently talk about how best to exploit the current world's laws.
  • In John Dies at the End, John and Dave try to lure out a ghost by splitting up, with John taking a shower and Dave taking a nap, while loudly announcing their plan and their fervent hope that they will not be attacked by a ghost under these circumstances.
  • The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump begins with the narrator receiving a call from his boss in the middle of the night (and the boss blaming time zones). It ends with the narrator deliberately calling the boss at the same hour.

Newspaper Comics

  • Cathy has tried, at least once, to invoke You Were Trying Too Hard, declaring that she was not looking for a boyfriend, and therefore a suitable one should pop up any minute now. It didn't work.


  • The Big Finish Doctor Who audio drama The Doomwood Curse is based entirely around this: Some space nanites are making a fictional book true, and through careful manipulation of the tropes the Doctor is able to reverse the effect: The only way to get the solution to the carrier (a highwayman) in time is to make it a valuable item that "Must get there before sunrise!".

Tabletop Games

Video Games

GLaDOS: This is the Computer Intelligence Training and Enrichment Center Human Test Subject Research Center or SinTech. But why don't we all just agree to call it the hub?

Web Comics

  • The Sluggy Freelance crew is fond of this. The most notable occasion is during the Bug Squisher Quest: when they find the book of Güd, Torg makes Zoë wait until he could exclaim that nothing could save them now, noting that saying that made sure that something would in fact save them.
    • It doesn't work. However, when Torg explains what he was doing, Zoë responds "You mean like [when someone says] 'It can't get any worse?'" This time, it works.
  • Elan in The Order of the Stick is fond of these, often pointing out that they're obligatory. For example, in On the Origin of PCs, when Roy is recruiting members for an adventuring party, Elan gets Roy to sit in a corner, looking mysterious, to invoke You All Meet in An Inn. All the Order of the Stick characters are reasonably Genre (and Rule, for that matter) Savvy, but Elan's a bard and seems to feel that invoking tropes is part of his job.
    • Elan is also not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, and will do things like insisting on waiting for the fireball to catch up—despite having reached the escape in plenty of time—so as to do an impressive jump to safety.
    • In this comic, Elan insisted that the party allow themselves to be captured because a net had fallen on them. When the other two party members simply lift up the net (it was made for catching game, not humanoids) and try to escape, they're beaten up by orcs and then captured anyway.
      • Cue smug Bard, and audience realization that a man who actually DOES live a world of narrative tropes probably has some method to his madness.

Elan: Fight, fight, fight, fight the urge to say "I told you so!"

    • Subverted in an even more recent comic, when Elan insists that another character's poor choice of words are inevitably going to lead to his immediate death. By this point, everyone around him is so used to successfully invoked tropes that they look around, waiting for a trope that never comes.

O-Chul: I'll be honest. I did not actually expect to live through this.
Elan: Don't say that! Whenever someone says that after surviving something dangerous, something totally random pops out and kills them!
All: (look around, nothing happens)
Elan: Well, most of the time, at least. Just don't announce that you're going to retire tomorrow, OK?

    • Also, when Elan Took a Level in Badass, to effect this his teacher started out by staging a Training Montage rather than actually training him.
    • Roy has actually taken advantage of this tendency of Elan's, as Haley points out:

Haley: Elan, don't you see? Roy let you loose in the desert thinking that you would trip over the main plot!
Elan: So?
Haley: You DID!

  • MSF High: Examples include Runners, girls who run through the school with eyes closed and bookbags unzipped, looking for a cute guy who they will crash into, and subsquently date. One of them would be...
  • In Finder's Keepers, Cailyn proposes Let's Split Up, Gang!. Cardinal points out that would be tempting fate. Cailyn replies that they're trying to find Fate.
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, Kat very loudly and deliberately tempts fate, aiming to get kidnapped as the first step in a Batman Gambit: "Oh boy! I sure hope nothing happens to me now that I'm here all alone!" It works, partly: She does get kidnapped, but not by the hunky Mr Eglamore like she was hoping.
  • In Blip, when the subject of a nasty falling-out between K and Mary comes up, Liz announces that "It's intervention time! Rashomon Style!" Hester recounts the tail end of the argument, as that was the only part she saw, then Liz gives a deliberately exaggerated version of what she saw, prompting Mary to set the record straight for both of them. Of course, forcing Mary to examine these memories in detail was Liz's goal in the first place.
  • In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, Frans Rayner quite flagrantly invokes the Conservation of Ninjutsu trope to try to defeat the titular ninja. He prepares an army of clones made from the doctor, so they'll all attack him at once. The doctor responds by switching sides so he can invoke some other tropes to gain the upper hand. " Dammit, Frans. You don't have to be a lone wolf any more! That attitude will get you killed!"
  • In A Loonatics Tale, Jasper Zinc is a genius, there's no denying that. And he's fully aware that he's a genius. But he hasn't got a particularly high opinion of anyone else's intellect, so he deliberately avoids contractions and uses unnecessarily large words in order to make sure that the lowest common denominator is also aware that he's a genius.

Web Original

  • In The Angry Video Game Nerd "Porn Games" episode, the Nerd attempts to use his tendency to get ambushed by the characters he discusses in his game reviews to his advantage while reviewing the game Gigolo.

Angry Video Game Nerd: You know, that's really weird. Could you imagine if you're just sittin' around, minding your own business, when all of a sudden, some naked chick breaks in and starts humpin' the crap outta you? (looks at door, excited... nothing happens, he shakes his head) You know, that's really not fair. I get Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger, and Spider-Man... Bugs Bunny... but no naked chick. (shakes his head) Fuck this shit.

Western Animation

  • The Tick (animation), due to his "Drama Power", will often let villains kick his butt, so that his heroic comeback will be more powerful.
  • In The Simpsons, after Apu and Manjula have difficulty conceiving, Homer helps out by having them simulate a drunken teenage one-night-stand.
  • South Park: Cartman attempts to invoke a flashback to colonial times so he doesn't have to learn about the Constitutional Convention by reading. This being South Park, after a couple of false starts it eventually works.
  • 101 Dalmatians: Pongo and Perdita catch each other's eyes before their human owners do, so they use Dog Walks You to arrange a Meet Cute.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, "A Dog and Pony Show": Rarity invokes Pity the Kidnapper when she is captured by Diamond Dogs in order to make them willing to let her leave with all the jewels they made her find.
  • Archer has the titular secret agent going off on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge when he finds out the chemo drugs he's supposed to be receiving are just Zima and sugar pills. As a pop culture-obsessed secret agent, however, he has his colleague film the whole thing and includes many, many references to things like Man On Fire and Magnum, P.I..

Lana: Is that really necessary?
Archer: Of course it is, Lana, it's a rampage!