There are many ideas and techniques that can be utilized to tell a story. When these ideas are overused, they devolve into tropes and clichés. Therefore, I’ve listed seven tropes that I wish would die.
Three Weeks Earlier…
Too many movies start in the middle of a cool action scene then flashback to “three weeks earlier” so they can lay on boring exposition.
As a viewer, I expect each new set-piece to outdo what I’ve previously seen. Showing the ending ruins the surprise and negates any tension.
I much prefer the cold-opening approach of a James Bond film or Batman: The Brave and The Bold. These examples start at the climax of a previous adventure which concludes and then the characters dive into their next adventure.
“I woke up without any memory of where I am or who I was. I also forgot to have a personality, motivation, or any concrete character traits.”
The amnesiac protagonist is just an excuse to keep information from the audience and build up to a plot twist. Nine times out of ten, the plot twist isn’t that great. A character you thought was good is secretly evil, these two characters are related, or these two characters are secretly the same character. I love a good plot twist, but it only works if you don’t see it coming. Starting with the protagonist having no memories is a big red flag.
Instead of having the protagonist be ignorant of important information, it would be more interesting to have an unreliable narrator who keeps plot twists secret from the audience.
“Hey wise old mentor, why should I defeat the bad guy?” “Because it’s your destiny.”
I am not against foreshadowing, but destiny destroys motivation. Spelling out the entire story as a prophecy just feels like a shopping list. Destiny doesn’t exist in real life and has no place in fiction.
All Fantasy is Lord Of The Rings and All Sci-Fi Is Star Wars
Sci-Fi and Fantasy stories have a problem of being incestuous and derivative of popular genre fiction. Creators need to remember to combine classic ideas with new ideas. When Star Wars and The Lord Of The Rings first came out, they blew peoples’ minds because audiences had never seen anything like them before. To break the Sci-Fi/Fantasy paradigm, authors must capture the spirit of adventure without copying the aesthetics of what’s popular.
My Dad is God
Blame this on my own “Daddy issues,” but I’m tired of protagonists who have this borderline sick obsession with their Dad. Another part of this trope, is that they refer to their Dad as “Father.” The father is usually absent and has a godlike legacy that’s impossible to live up to.
The Power Of Love Solves Everything
If you’ve ever been in love, you know that it creates problems as much as it solves them. However, love is being used in stories as a literal superpower that can stop physical threats and even bring back the dead. It’s too saccharine and makes me think of the anti-climactic ending of Halloween Town.
Throne Warming Villains
It’s him–the final boss… The biggest bad guy the hero has ever faced… And they spend most of their time sitting on a throne or hunched over a cauldron off-screen.
After Voldemort, Galbatorix, and the Fire Lord, I’ve had my fill of throne-warming villains. I usually wind up loving to hate the big bad’s henchmen because they’re on screen more of the time. What’s great about a villain like the Joker is that he’s active. It’s not that he’s off-screen because he’s plotting and scheming, it’s because he just pulled off a big crime that Batman missed by two minutes.