Tropes Will Ruin Your Life

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

A common complaint of people who take courses like Media or Film studies is that they never look at a TV program, advertisement or film the same way ever again.

Analyzing a medium in depth and pulling it apart by the seams teaches you to watch things critically—analyzing every aspect and codifying them inside your mind.

Most tropers, academics, directors or writers who do this start to find new ways to enjoy media. The subtle blends of plots, the new spins on old stories. The rare and welcome times where a plot you weren't expecting appears. But it is never the same.

Enjoyment comes from a balance of Recognition and Surprise—we enjoy things that we can relate to and have seen before, but we also like to be surprised. Total recognition is cliché; total surprise is alienating. Through comparing different works of fiction, browsing trope wikis like this one will merge surprise almost entirely with recognition and you will begin analyzing everything and taking a totally new (and possibly better) enjoyment from media - or reality.

Also, according to this article, trope wikis are actually paths that mirror our desire to fictionalize and narrativize our lives.

Who knows, they could be right. At any rate, keep these goodies in mind:

  • Tropes Are Tools, not clichés. They are plot devices and progressions (similar to but more defined than literary devices) that have been around for a long time because they work, and there's no inherent loss of complexity through the use of them (most of the time).
  • Note the inherent creativity of many shows. Hell, you'd be unable to find a show that doesn't use tropes, especially given that the avoidance of some tropes are tropes in and of themselves. You're failing to appreciate the material if you immediately assume the show is unoriginal if there is a trope involved.
  • Thinking about what you watch and acting critically toward it makes you an active, intelligent viewer, pulling you away from the Lowest Common Denominator who just buys whatever the media pushes on him.
  • The MST3K Mantra and the Bellisario's Maxim.
  • What you loved about television/video games/other format in the first place, and how you were able to Hand Wave the flaws inherent to the medium back then. It'll take time to stop analyzing every minute detail, but if you stick with good quality entertainment you'll rarely be disappointed.

Now we warn you about the amount of time you will spend browsing the website in your first few weeks of visiting. Some editors spend 7 hour+ periods just reading through the thousands of pages, going through an extended Wiki Walk. This effect is best shown by this xkcd comic. These steps will help:

  • Stay away from tabbed browsing.
  • Do not stay up all frakking night editing pages.

See also Tropes Will Enhance Your Life, All The Tropes Ruined Your Life, All the Tropes Will Ruin Your Vocabulary, All The Tropes as a Gateway Drug, All the Tropes Wiki Drinking Game (which will ruin your liver), Just One More Level.