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Fictional Tropes I Adore - Part 1

There are only so many ways to tell a story. Whether it is perspective, medium, construction, or even format, there are specific well-established storytelling techniques. If you happen to use a cliché or two, there is no need to be ashamed. If your narrative is compelling and well-written, who cares if familiar tropes are in there? Here are some familiar tropes that enthral me every time.


Two black women smile and hold each other close.
Photo by Hian Oliviera on Unsplash

Friends To Lovers


While I am a sucker for enemies to lovers, there is something so sweet about watching friends walk that line between platonic and romantic love before slowly drifting into a couple. Perhaps this is because all of my romantic relationships started as friendships, but it feels so comforting. This doesn't mean there is no angst, gods no; the pining, the hesitation, and the hiding of feelings are all the sweeter when they are friends, especially if the pining is mutual.


Some great examples of this:


Jake and Amy, Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Adora and Catra, She-Ra and The Princesses Of Power

Monty and Percy, The Gentleman's Guide To Vice and Virtue


Bad Guy To Good Guy/Good Guy To Bad Guy


This trope is another fantastic one. For bad guy to good guy, I prefer the reluctantly teaming up with the hero to reluctant good guy arc style. Some fascinating dialogue can come from watching the good guy dynamic shift to accommodate an enemy, especially if not everyone is on board. This trope is a great one for internal and external conflict and character development.


There is something so special about good guy to bad guy. The idea of working towards a greater good, of being so set on the correct outcome that the ends justify the means can be so delicious. I particularly enjoy the conflict that this soon-to-be bad guy can experience when confronted by allies and loved ones.


Great examples of this:


Emperor Kuzco, Emperor's New Groove

Takuto Maruki, Persona 5: Royal

Murtagh Morzanson, The Inheritance Cycle


Descent Into Madness


Ugh, one of my favourites. Letting a character descend into madness has many pitfalls that make it tricky to do correctly. However, if it works for your narrative, and you handle it with care, it can truly shine. Descent into madness often shows itself in both horror or thrillers and fanfiction for a good reason. It can be torturous for both the character and the reader to embark on this mental journey, especially if you keep things ambiguous. Going into madness also gives you as a writer freedom to expand into experimental storytelling or formatting styles.


Great examples of this:


Azula, Avatar: The Last Airbender

Anakin Skywalker, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith


One man's brown eye stares seriously into the camera
Photo by Ahmed Zid on Unsplash

Cornucopia Weapons Guy


We all know this one: the badass squad get to the swanky event but have to leave their weapons at the door. Most of them take a few moments to put everything down, but one of them spends the rest of the scene pulling various dangerous weapons from impossible places. Bonus points if they only just got done putting their guns down before the party have to leave. This particular trope works best in movies and TV shows, and I always eat it up.


Great examples of this:


Rat, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas

Elizabeth Swann, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and Gandalf, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Mat, The Wheel of Time



Undercover Scenario


Having your characters go undercover has many excellent avenues to go through: it can be serious and thrilling, comedic and awkward, or just a small part of a crazy heist sequence. No matter how the undercover scenario is presented, it can be fun to watch unfold. It pushes your characters to the absolute limit, and the stakes are high enough that any small thing could mean disaster. What will they do if their cover is blown? I’m biting my nails and sitting on the edge of my seat, hoping not to find out!


Great examples of this:


Jake Peralta, Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Zuko and Sokka, Avatar: The Last Airbender

Bigwig, Watership Down


Secret Enemy


While some may see this trope as a cheap attempt at shock value, I revel in well-made ones. When the writer or director leaves little breadcrumbs leading to the ultimate betrayal, it can leave you with a bittersweet combination of ‘ah-HA!’ and sadness. Character and internal conflict thrive in the secret enemy trope and often lead to good guy to bad guy arcs.


Great examples of this (spoilers!):


Goro Akechi, Persona 5/Persona 5: The Royal

Shiro's clone, Voltron: Legendary Defender

Michael, The Good Place



Villain Redemption


A controversial but excellent trope! This is another tricky one to get right, but done well it soars. It’s a balancing act with the plot and the reader that many fail to execute correctly. To love a villain redemption arc, it needs to feel earned and realistic. There needs to be struggles, failures, falling into old habits, and genuine regret and work before redemption can be awarded. Villains need to face the consequences of their actions, and we need not excuse abuse or wrongdoing.


Great examples of this:


Wanda and Quicksilver, Avengers: Age of Ultron

Bowser Jr., The Mario Bros. series spin-offs

Edmund Pevensie, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe



I’ve realised that I’m very picky about the tropes I enjoy. Even if they are not done well in canon, I can rewrite them myself or find some excellent fanfiction to help out.


Did I discuss any of your favourites? Do you disagree with me? What tropes do you like best? Let us know on our socials!


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