Trope Codifier

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

You have before you three series. The first, Series A, was the first known use of a trope, but it may or may not have been intentional. The second, Series B, was the first intentional use of the trope. The third, Series C, does not claim originality, and may in fact have ripped off series B, but is the template that all later uses of this trope follow.

Series A is the Ur Example.

Series B is the Trope Maker.

Series C is the Trope Codifier.

The Trope Maker is frequently also the Trope Codifier, but not always. In particular, when the Trope Maker is a work of outstanding quality, the Trope Codifier will be the story that shows how lesser authors can do a good imitation. Conversely, a great writer may gather up many old tropes and polish them to a shine, codifying them for later generations.

The Trope Codifier may be the first theme park version or Pragmatic Adaptation. If the trope is Older Than They Think, the Codifier is usually mistaken for the Trope Maker. Really old tropes may have been codified every couple of centuries for millennia, as successive codifiers show how to adapt the age-old trope to their times. With the advent of television, a trope related to television may be codified by a new show every decade or two after the associations with previous codifiers have died out.

Important: "Trope Codifier" does not mean the Most Triumphant Example. It means "Example that has fingerprints of influence on all later examples of the trope". The true marker of a Codifier is that it invents some unique spin on the trope that all later examples have some reaction to. Take, for example, Werewolves. There were earlier examples of werewolf stories, but it is with 1941's The Wolf Man that we first see werewolves as an infection (previously, it was a curse or part of a Deal with the Devil), silver vulnerability (previously, it was vampires or ghosts who were usually associated with weakness to silver), made the werewolf a human cursed to turn into a wolf-man (previously, all kinds of variations were available, from wolf that turns into a man, to man who was permanently turned into a wolf), and tied the wolf to the night of the full moon (previously, they either focused on the three nights around the full moon, or had little to do with the phase of the moon). Almost all later examples of Werewolves bear some of these subtropes, which originated with The Wolf Man, or at least discuss them in order to explain why Our Werewolves Are Different. Thus, we can state with confidence that it is the Trope Codifier.

Examples should be of Trope Codifiers that aren't Trope Maker themselves.

Related to Older Than They Think. If a Trope Codifier is particularly influential, and the Trope Maker a little twisted you may have an Unbuilt Trope.

Also see Most Triumphant Example.

Examples of Trope Codifier include:


Anime and Manga

Comic Books



Live Action TV

  • In Reverse Whodunnits, the Trope Codifier is Columbo, Trope Maker being R. Austin Freeman's Dr. Thorndyke.
  • Despite the name, Dawson Casting was neither made nor codified by Dawson's Creek; Beverly Hills, 90210 does the codifying honors there. Possible Trope Makers include Bye Bye Birdie, in which 21-year-old Ann-Margaret played the 16-year-old-lead, and the many 1960s beach movies in which Annette Funicello, in her late thirties by the time the last ones were made, played ostensibly fresh-faced debutantes.
    • 90210 is also the Trope Codifier for a Teen Drama; it borrowed heavily from Degrassi Junior High and, besides adding the too-old "kids" moved the setting from a nondescript part of Toronto to one of the shiniest places the writers could think of. Two things most teen dramas since have kept in the mix.
  • Star Trek did not invent modern science-fiction television; but it made many science-fiction tropes commonplace on television, so much so that it is its own franchise and has influenced almost every subsequent speculative fiction series since, up to and including Heroes.
  • Mork from Mork and Mindy is the most prominent example of an Amusing Alien.
  • Iron Chef is the Trope Codifier for the Cooking Duel trope.
  • Eastenders is definitely the trope codifer for a miserable Soapland Christmas.
  • Malcolm in the Middle is the trope codifier for the single camera, on-location, Laugh Track-free sitcom that became popular on United States broadcast television during the 2000's. There were a handful of pre-Malcolm shows that featured such setups, but these (namely The Adventures of Pete and Pete and The Larry Sanders Show, both of which qualify as the Trope Maker of such setups) aired on either pay or niche cable channels as opposed to the then-more popular broadcast television netowrks.
    • A year before Malcolm premiered, Spaced did the same thing for British sitcoms.
  • Everybody Loves Raymond was hugely influential to later sitcoms and is a codifier for All Women Are Prudes in sitcoms (the notoriously anti-sex Debra)
    • It was also a reinforcer of the feminist wife who was always right, even if she argued that the sky was kelly green, initially codified by Home Improvement, where wife Jill was a self-admitted feminist and Tim was the one who screwed up 99.5% of the time.
  • Saved by the Bell is the Trope Codifier for the Six-Student Clique.
  • The Real World is the Trope Codifier for Reality Shows.
  • V is the Trope Codifier for Ominous Floating Spaceship.
  • Lionel Luthor from Smallville is the Trope Codifier for Magnificent Bastard. The phrase itself comes from the 1970 movie Patton, and was used extensively by Television Without Pity's recaps of Smallville, to describe Lionel and the prodigious wheeling and dealing he engaged in throughout the course of the series.
  • Kamen Rider Ryuki is the trope codifier for Battle Royale-esque fiction in Japanese media.
  • Cheers and Belligerent Sexual Tension. Sam and Diane provided the template for sitcoms to follow.
  • The 2007 reboot of Bionic Woman was the beginning of a trend of adorning hot Badass Action Girls in leather jackets, even when such attire would be so uncomfortable it'd be a hindrance (such as in summer heat), but it became a new standard for both Rule of Cool and Rule of Sexy. Regardless, after this, we see the leather jacket begin to lose its 20th century image as a macho coat worn by a Badass like Fonzie and become seen as a feminine piece of attire that just screams Action Girl with the leather jacket on badass males slowly becoming The Artifact except on villains. Notable examples of this trend are Erica Evans in V, Carrie Wells in Unforgettable, Renee Walker from 24 (and even one of the main female villains), and especially Olivia and Peter's future daughter Etta, who looks 17 but is really 25 in 2036 who is from Fringe.


  • By the time of Michael Jackson, music videos were evolving beyond just shots of the band, but he set the standard for everything that came after him.
  • If Led Zeppelin was the Ur Example of Heavy Metal, and Black Sabbath was the Trope Maker, Judas Priest is certainly the Trope Codifier. They started the standard image of leather, spikes, studs, and denim, removed much of the blues elements that were very apparent in earlier examples of metal (Led Zeppelin was called blues-rock, after all), and made metal cool again in the late 70s. Motorhead also helped in the codifying of metal. They took influence from Punk Rock and from Heavy Metal to create the most brutal music yet known in the world, and inspired much of Thrash Metal.
    • W.A.S.P. was the Trope Codifier of heavy metal's image in the 1980s, combining the Judas Priest facade above with KISS and Alice Cooper-style shock rock antics turned up to eleven, unsubtle Satanic imagery, songs about sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, big hair, pointy guitars and spandex.
  • Pierre Schaeffer's 1948 opus Cinq Études de Bruits was not the world's first musique concrète. John Cage's Imaginary Landscape and perhaps other such works predate it. But it was the first music to have that label (coined by Schaeffer), and codified the genre.
  • Richard Wagner coined the term "leitmotif" in an 1851 essay and codified the concept in his famous cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen, which he had been working on at the time. But the trope was invented two decades earlier by Hector Bérlioz, who called it "idée fixe" in his own writings.
  • Using Auto-Tune for a robotic effect didn't become prominent until the arrival of T-Pain in 2005. Unlike other artists that relegated it to subtle uses or genres aiming for a digitalized sound (such as electronica or techno), T-Pain used it obviously and flagrantly on nearly all of his releases. His huge success led to a slew of imitators within pop, R&B, and hip hop.
  • If this trope is possible on one network, then Hilary Duff is the trope codifier for the current batch of teenage Idol Singers on Disney Channel. Before her, Disney Channel stars didn't really do much outside of the show. After her, Disney practically required all of their actresses to sing regardless of talent.
  • Despite Buck Tick and X Japan being prominent early examples, Kuro Yume set the template for nearly every Visual Kei band that followed, including better known (at least in the West) examples such as Dir En Grey and Luna Sea.
  • While Todd Edwards certainly didn't invent sampling, he made it into an art form. What he does is he takes sometimes up to 100 samples from different songs and creates new melodies with them. This type of sampling is often referred to as "microsampling."

Tabletop Games

  • It's unclear whether or not Dungeons & Dragons was the first to present an alignment alignment system beyond good/neutral/evil, but it was definitely the most prominent, and its nine-point alignment system comprises all of the Character Alignment tropes today. Ironically, the most recent version of the game has done away with the alignment system, for the most part.
  • The Zerg of StarCraft may have been the namers for Zerg Rush, but the Tyranids, of Warhammer 40,000, were infamous for the tactic long before the Swarm came around. Of course, both being based on the Bugs from Starship Troopers the similarities are unavoidable, the Result being an odd case where the Trope Namer came after the Codifier.
    • Also The book also broke all the Bugs into casts of Worker and Warrior bugs, all directed by a special hierarchy of subterranean Brain Bugs.
  • GURPS quite literally defined the Weirdness Magnet trope.
  • Although there were Trading Card Games older than Magic: The Gathering (mostly using baseball cards), most of the tropes associated with modern TCGs started with Magic.


  • Shakespeare is another example; he used almost entirely unoriginal plots (with his fame coming from executing them brilliantly), so anybody harkening back to Shakespeare for a basic plot is going to the Trope Codifier, rather than the Trope Maker.
  • "Laurey Makes Up Her Mind" from Oklahoma! was the Trope Codifier for Dream Ballets in musicals.
    • Oklahoma! can also be considered the Trope Codifier for integrated musicals in general. Prior "musicals" were generally either plays interrupted by occasional songs or flimsy plots that were just an excuse to move between song and dance numbers. Show Boat is usually considered the first musical to integrate song, dance, and story, but it was hard for others to imitate. Oklahoma! provided a template that other musicals used pretty much until Andrew Lloyd Webber showed up.

Video Games

  • Quick Melee has existed in some form in shooters, but the Halo series is what started the trend in modern shooters, and the Modern Warfare series and Call of Duty Black Ops are what made the "press a button to pull out your knife and stab with it in one motion" almost standard in recent shooters.
  • Wolfenstein 3D and Doom by Id Software weren't the first First Person Shooters (or even id's first First Person Shooter), but the two games popularized the genre and each inspired dozens of imitators. For awhile, first person shooters were often called "Doom clones." While these games are very primitive by today's standards—you can't jump or even look up—Doom remains to this day a partial trope codifier, popularizing Death matches, FPS games with built in support for Game Mods, telefragging your friends, etc.
  • Quake is the codifier for the 'mouselook' control scheme, where instead of only using a keyboard to control an FPS character, you control the view with a mouse as well. Bungie's Marathon is the Ur Example, Terminator Future Shock is the Trope Maker, but due to Marathon being on the Apple platform, and Terminator Future Shock just not being popular, it took until Quake and its innovative online multiplayer before the mouselook feature became codified.
  • Even though Doom was the Ur Example of the Space Marine trope in videogames, Halo became the poster boy for the trope.
  • Super Mario Brothers was the Codifier for Platform Games (see The Other Wiki's article on platform games).
  • EverQuest is the Trope Codifier for just about every single MMO trope of today. While it wasn't the first of its kind (MUDs and Ultima Online get that title), it was the first to establish the model that other MMOs would follow, up to and including World of Warcraft.
  • The Metal Gear series and the Thief series are jointly the Codifier of the stealth genre. Metal Gear Solid and Thief came out at about the same time, but had different approaches. MGS had a bunch of action sequences, while Thief was pure stealth. In fact, when it came out, most critics had difficulty pidgeonholing what category to put Thief into.
  • When it comes to Match Three Games: Columns is the Trope Maker, Bejeweled is the codifier.
  • Pong is usually considered the first Video Game by the general public. The actual first Video Game is a bit debatable depending on how you define Video Game, ranging from an unnamed game of Cathode Ray Tube Amusement Device in 1947 to the 1972-released Magnavox Odyssey game console (the strongest contender turning out to lie smack in the middle, 1962's Space War), but the consensus is that Pong is the Trope Codifier rather than the true Trope Maker.
  • WarCraft II, while not the first Real Time Strategy game, was the first one to formalize the RPG aspects, including clearly visible hit point counters and Hero Units.
  • Although there were definitely 3D beat'em ups/hack-and-slashers in the PS 1/Sega Saturn/Nintendo 64 era, the first Devil May Cry gave the genre new popularity and credence and is widely seen as the key inspiration for similar "Stylish Action" games like God of War. Many subsequent titles in the genre either directly take inspiration for it or, via aping direct so-to-speak offspring like aforementioned God of War, indirectly draw from it.
    • Chaining on that previous point, God of War is one for Action Commands.
    • Actually, God of War and Resident Evil 4 came out the same year. That would be why they're both credited. How one views the Press X to Not Die is another matter entirely.
  • Street Fighter II for Fighting Games.
    • Also, Ryu is this to Shotoclones.
      • Capcom vs. Whatever games for the concept of "tag battle" fighters (discounting wresting games, which have wildly different gameplay.)
  • Resident Evil for the Survival Horror despite not being the first of its kind.
  • For the 3D Fighting Game, Tekken is the most likely codifier, bringing together concepts introduced in preceding 3D fighters like Virtua Fighter and Battle Arena Toshinden.
  • Broadly speaking, nothing in any Blizzard game is new or original. They just introduce and tweak the successful elements of previous games to make ones that are quite good. One thing they did create was units giving ever more amusing responses if you won't leave them alone.
  • Worms codified the turn-based artillery gameplay of games like Gorillas and Artillery.
  • While Recca probably was the Ur Example and Batsugun was definitely the Trope Maker, Do Don Pachi codified very much of Bullet Hell. And it continues to redefine and codify the meaning of it as the True Final Boss Hibachi has progressively gotten harder and harder beyond belief.
  • Final Fantasy codifies the JRPG-Genre, but the Trope Maker and Ur Example is Dragon Quest
  • Grand Theft Auto, particularly Grand Theft Auto III, codified the Wide Open Sandbox genre.
  • Pokémon is the codifier for the monster-capturing game genre, though it is predated by the Darker and Edgier Shin Megami Tensei series.
  • Tower Defense games were one of the major categories of user-made maps in StarCraft, but the relatively primitive map editing tool and limited selection of combat-capable buildings meant that there was a far greater emphasis on mobile units. Warcraft III brought a more sophisticated editor which could be used to make custom buildings, and maps for that game codified the variety of towers, upgrade options, and lack of mobile attackers that are common in the genre today.
  • Also on mods/user-made maps, Defense of the Ancients is not the Maker for Multiplayer Online Battle Arena. The concept was Made by Aeon of Strife from the StarCraft days. However, DotA is the best-known example of the type and it's no great stretch to claim that dedicated games like League of Legends or Demigod would not exist without it.
  • The original Halo didn't actually pioneer any of the revolutions in gameplay it featured (all of them, from limited inventory, to regenerating health, to melee attacks, to seperate buttons for firearms and grenades, had been done before in previous games), but it is unquestionably the game which popularized them all to the point that most modern First Person Shooters now use them by default.
  • Unreal is the codifier for Secondary Fire, as every weapon in the game has an alternative firing option. This persisted through the entire Unreal series, including Tournament games, and is now considered virtually mandatory in any FPS game.
  • Gears of War took the idea of Take Cover as an integral part of the gameplay system - as opposed to an organic "hide behind stuff so you stop getting shot" - from earlier games, but the concept's current popularity would most likely not exist without it.
  • Metroid was the first Metroidvania-game, and Super Metroid is the Trope Codifier.
  • The Legend Of Zelda codified the Action Adventure genre, boasting innovations such as a battery save feature and open-ended gameplay, while eliminating irrelevant tropes such as Scoring Points. However, it was predated by Adventure for the Atari 2600.
  • While most certainly not the first Survival Horror game, Silent Hill introduced, or at least popularized atmosphere with limited visibility that maximizes Nothing Is Scarier.
  • While the Action RPG genre had already seen some entries, Kingdom Hearts made it mainstream; virtually every Action RPG since Kingdom Hearts owes at least a partial debt to its formula.
  • While Dune is the most likely candidate for the very first Real Time Strategy, Command & Conquer pioneers many of the features that are present in the genre.
  • While Modern Warfare wasn't the first game to use an RPG-esque leveling-up system for its multiplayer, you'd be hard pressed to find another online FPS today that doesn't use a system almost exactly like it. It's fairly easy to implement and can keep the player invested for another fifteen to twenty hours that they normally wouldn't have bothered with.
  • Twisted Metal wasn't the first competitive Vehicular Combat game (Both Battlesport and Cybersled predates it), but it certainly did popularize the genres and some features, such as tournament-based storylines, quirky characters and more differentiated vehicles.
  • The Roguelike genre has two important codifiers: Nethack introduced many features that have since become commonplace in the genre and Angband created a whole, thriving sub-genre of its own.

Western Animation


  • Digital Devil Story codified the Mega Ten metaseries, providing the original source material that eventually set the rules for all Mons.
  • An earlier work by William Gibson coined the term "Cyberspace". Both Neuromancer and Tron set the standards for what we think of it.
  • Acorn Computers' Arthur OS had the Ur-Example. NEXTSTEP had the original and the user-interface trope namer. But if you've got a dock in your operating system, the OS you're inevitably accused of copying is Apple's Mac OSX. So of course it's also Older Than They Think.
  • For graphical interface conventions in general (mice, menus, windows, etc.), the Ur-Example was Xerox PARC's groundbreaking research of the '60s and '70s, which never turned into commercial products on their part, but was Xeroxed by Apple (the Trope Maker) as the basis for its Macintosh interface, and then ripped off (and made even more popular and mainstream) by Microsoft in Windows, the Trope Codifier.
  • Fortune teller characters nowadays will likely take some influence from Miss Cleo. This results in Romanians with Jamaican accents.
  • While not the first Video Review Show, The Angry Video Game Nerd popularized the format.
  • Clarence Darrow's defense of Leopold and Loeb was the codifier for Society Is to Blame
  • James Watt didn't invent the first stationary steam engine, and George and Robert Stephenson didn't invent the first steam locomotive. But their versions were so much more efficient than previous ones that they are often credited as the inventors.
  • While there were doubtlessly others before him (one of the earliest known is Liu Pengli in 144 BC), Jack the Ripper established the concept of Serial Killers to the general public and all of them, real or fictional, will be compared to Jack the Ripper. He however far predates the trope name, which was the FBI referring to Wayne Williams in the 1970s.
  1. As a minor footnote, the concept of a Trope Codifier was originally suggested by the fact that Dungeons And Dragons clearly pioneered and set in stone certain aspects of the Standard Fantasy Setting, but didn't seem to qualify for full Trope Maker status.