10 overused tropes that I’ll never get tired of

As someone who reads a lot of books and watches a lot of things, I often see the same tropes many times across many stories. Some get old real fast, but others, well…there are some tropes that, no many how many times I see them, I never get tired of them, and I doubt I ever will.

It goes without saying that these tropes need to be well-written in order for me to enjoy them, but if they are, there’s a good chance that I will really enjoy them. Even if they’ve been used so often that they are considered cliché, I don’t care. So today I’m talking about ten tropes that appear again and again in stories — whether it’s books, movies, shows, etc. — that I will never get tired of!

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Redemption arc

If a redemption arc is done well, I will never say no to it. Admittedly, I can be quite picky with how they’re written (good, acceptable: Michael from The Good Place, Catra from She-Ra; bad, unacceptable: Kylo Ren from Star Wars), but if I like it, I’m probably well on my way to finding a new favorite character. There’s something so satisfying about a character realizing the error of their ways and working to rectify their mistakes and do better! Of course, I will inevitably compare any redemption arc to the greatest one of all time, but that’s just Zuko superiority.

hello zuko here | Tumblr | Avatar the last airbender, Avatar zuko, Avatar  the last airbender art

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Here comes the cavalry

The heroes think they’re outnumbered and about to be overcome…but lo! Help appears at the horizon at the last second! Our heroes are saved! It’s impossible not to cheer during these moments, and I don’t care how cliché or expected they are. It’s a moment of triumph and renewed hope that’s always delightful to see.

Total Film - 50 Most Exhilarating Movie Moments | Elf warrior, Cool gifs,  Helms deep

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“Maybe the real _____ was the friends we made along the way”

Any story that can be described with this phrase is pretty much an instant favorite. I’m very much a fan of character and relationship-focused stories, so I love when the plot serves to bring the character closer together. Any time the characters realize that the thing they were looking for or working towards is less important than the friendships they’ve made, I’m so on board. The phrase may be cliché, but the story itself is always heartwarming. Please just give me all the books with wonderful friendship groups, okay?

Real Bad Place Friends We Made Along The Way GIF - RealBadPlace  FriendsWeMadeAlongTheWay TedDanson - Discover & Share GIFs

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Rebellions against oppression

Maybe it’s the early-2010s-dystopian-novel-phase lingering on in me, but every time I read or watch anything that involves fighting back against an oppressive ruling group, I get so hyped. I think there’s something so appealing about rebellion stories in general, because we all want to believe that we’d be brave enough to stand up for what’s right. And, well, those kinds of stories have never felt more relevant to our current times. 😬

Revolution GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

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Ravens and crows

Maybe this is more a motif than a trope, but I will never get tired of the ~aesthetic~ of ravens and crows, no matter how often they’re used. It’s such an overused thing in YA books, yet every time I see a book with dark birds on the cover or in the title, I’m instantly intrigued. Am I secretly a goth thirteen year old who wants a raven as a pet? What’s with that??

Black Birds Flying GIF - BlackBirds Flying Crows - Discover & Share GIFs

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Haircut to show transformation

This is such a cliché in both fiction and real life, but every time it happens, I’m fully there with the character’s emotional journey. It’s dramatic and I love it.

Character: And I cut my hair to symbolize character development.

Me: Oh my god they cut their hair to symbolize character development.

The Disney Princess Hair Tag!! – Hammock of Books

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The villain has a close connection to hero

For me, the drama is increased by about a thousand percent any time the villain has a personal connection to the hero, whether it’s a family member, an old friend, or *gasps* an ex. Whether we know from the beginning or find out partway through, I’m immediately that much more invested in how the conflict between them plays out. It happens in so many different stories yet I never get tired of it!

Fortune Cookie — Darth Vader: Obi-Wan never told you what happened...

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“The power was inside you all along”

Yes, this trope can be hokey! But that moment when a character realizes they’re stronger than they ever allowed themself to believe? Or when they realize that the thing they’ve been searching for all along is something within themself? I love it every single time!

Thor Ragnarok GIF by Product Hunt - Find & Share on GIPHY

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Calling each other by a nickname until an emotional moment

Imagine this: character A always calls character B by a nickname or their last name. But then they call character B by their real name/first name and you suddenly realize that this is an Emotional and Important moment, and I’m just over here melting. It gets me every time and I’ll never get over it!

I Would Like To Talk About Nicknames GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

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The Chosen One

This one might be the most disagreed upon, since so many people hate the chosen one trope. But after much consideration, I have realized that I am strongly not one of those people. Yes, the idea of the “chosen one” has its problems and when it’s used as a lazy storytelling shortcut, it can be annoying. But so many writers have used it in new and interesting ways — like exploring ideas of destiny or the weight of responsibility placed upon the hero — that I find myself enjoying it more often than not.

Reaction harry potter reaction s GIF - Find on GIFER

(Now I’m realizing that I have a lot of thoughts on this topic and I kind of want to write an entire post about how the chosen one trope is good, actually. Should I do it??)

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What are the overused tropes that you will never get tired of? Do you agree or disagree with any of my choices?

x Margaret

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44 thoughts on “10 overused tropes that I’ll never get tired of

  1. Ooh a post about Chosen Ones would be cool! I quite like that trope actually – though as you say they need to be well-written. Love all the gifs in this post. I’d not realised that haircuts symbolising character development was a trope and now I’m going to pay 10x more attention now to any hair mentions 😂 I love redemption arcs too! One of my favourites was in the ‘Chaos Walking’ trilogy by Patrick Ness, but it’s a bit of a spoiler for book 2 so I won’t say more…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you think so, because now I really want to write it! 😊 And yesss I feel like there’s usually so much hidden symbolism in hair mentions. Ahhh I love the Chaos Walking books, and I think I know exactly which you’re talking about!! So good 😭

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  2. This post is amazing! Haha, Catra and Michael had such great redemption arcs, and they were so believable too. YES #Bestfriendsquad LOL. Wow I agree with so many of the tropes you talked about *high five*. Three dimensional villains are so interesting, and especially so if they’re connected to the hero, as you said. AHAHAHA I didn’t think the whole nickname until an emotional moment thing was a trope, but it’s definitely so rewarding!! The Chosen One trope is one of the biggest and I guess has a bunch of pros and cons, but same! lately I’ve been finding them done in really unique ways. I also will never get tired of magical powers honestly…there’s just so much room for the imagination there haha 😀 Again, wonderful post!!!!

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    1. Catra and Michael’s redemption arcs are SO good. So glad you agree with these! 😀 Yesss the nickname trope is always so satisfying! And yep, I think there are so many interesting ways to do the Chosen One narrative – it can definitely be done poorly, but it can also be such an interesting storytelling technique. Magical powers never get old, in my opinion!! Thanks so much! ❤

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  3. Yes, go for it! I’d love to read your post on why you love the chosen one trope 🙂 Honestly, as well as it’s well done, same. Tropes are there for a reason, you know? Give me all of the nicknames and hidden connections and creepy birds.

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  4. I love it when villains have a close connection with the main character oh my god. And I’d love to see your post on chosen ones! I’ve always kind of thought they got an unfair reputation just because a lot of authors in the 90’s did them badly.

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  5. I don’t think that there’s one trope on this list that I disagree with. Redemption arcs are superior to any other trope. I really like a good anti-hero and I love character development so redemption arcs are the perfect blend of both.

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  6. These are all tropes I love to read about, even though, yes, they are a bit over-used. 😅 I agree that they need to be well-written to work, but when an author puts these tropes into their story correctly, I love it! Ravens and crows are just so… cute? I just love birds, and I especially love it when dark scary birds are really soft on the inside. (I guess I’m thinking more about Chainsaw from the Raven Cycle!) And the nickname trope? Gets me every time, too!

    Yes! I would love to read a post about the Chosen One trope! I love that trope, but only when it’s done in a new and fun way! Sometimes it’s lazy, but it doesn’t have to be.

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    1. Absolutely! They may be overused, but they never get old 🤷‍♀️ Ahaha so true – when those dark, scary-looking birds are soft? It’s fantastic. (And yes, Chainsaw from TRC is the PERFECT example.)

      The general consensus seems to be that I need to write a post on the Chosen One trope, so I guess that’ll be happening! 😂 Completely agree – there are so many ways to make it interesting if authors put thought into it.

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  7. These are all great tropes, especially when they’re done well. I absolutely love Here Comes the Cavalry, I don’t care how cheesy it might be I get chills every time!! I have mixed feelings on the Chosen One, so I’d love to read your full thoughts on it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I also appreciate many tropes so much, so I loved reading your post! I love me some morally grey characters and a good redemption Arc – it’s always great to root for someone to get better! Similarly, I’m also a fan of interesting villain and hero dynamics, things get so much more interesting if both characters have a personal connection 😈 I’m with you on the Chosen One: I still love the trope a lot and it’s so much fun to see a character trying to save the world! (I’d love to read a discussion post about it) 💕

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  9. Great post! It’s so fun to look at tropes as fun instead of being hard on them. I’m a total sucker for outfit/hair transformations and huge agreement on redemption arcs (Catra is a strong yess pleeease)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh, this is such an amazing post, Margaret!!! I never really thought about it but the haircut to show character development is actually really common!! And the redemption ark is also wonderful. That gif you used made me laugh so hard!!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Those are amazing tropes! Some tropes just cannot get boring ever. I think from your list I like the Chosen One trope best. I mean, yeah, some of it is surely rather unbelievable but on the other hand, each and everyone of us is the hero of their own story. So why not take it up a notch? ;D

    Liked by 1 person

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