Tuesday, April 21, 2009

TV Tropes

"He's bluffing! No creature would willingly make an idiot out of itself!"
"You've obviously never been in love!"
--"Futurama", "Parasites Lost"

This post is from the "notebook".

This is one of my favorite episodes of one of my favorite shows. Fry becomes infected with parasites after recklessly eating a truck stop egg sandwich. He discovers they're there when a pipe goes through his stomach and the worms immediately patch the enormous hole. They then start to work toning his muscles, improving his neurological function (Fry's a moron), and generally cleaning up the place.

This makes him palatable to the object of his affections, Leela, who attempts to keep him from getting rid of the worms, finally ending with his own efforts to rid himself of the worms and undo what they've done, in order to find out whether Leela loves him for himself or for his, um, worms. That leads to the priceless bit of dialog above. (Being a sci-fi show allows Futurama to pose some interesting and unlikely questions.)

End Notebook Section

I can't remember why I started this post, except that I was probably watching this Futurama episode and it made me think of this great site called "TV Tropes". That link actually goes to an entry called "Love Makes You Dumb", and it's part of a bunch of "Love" entries, like "Love Makes You Crazy" and "Love Makes You Evil".

TV Tropes is a great site because it lists all these common themes used in television shows--but many can be scene throughout movies and literature as well. Things like "Actually I Am Him" and "Someday This Will Come In Handy" make you realize how often you've seen something.

The site's a little animé heavy with the examples, I guess because those are the people who contribute most. So it's geekier than geeky. (I mean, it makes me feel like a square sometimes, so you know it's gotta be extreme.) Still, a whole lot of fun to dig around and go, "Yeah! I know exactly what you're talking about!" (There's probably a trope for that, too, but I don't know what it is.)

Enjoy digging around.


  1. Oh my yes,and those tropes don't apply only to TV by any means. (As you know, blake.) I think I first saw that site linked by Andrea Harris a few years ago. It has become much more anime oriented (was that a bad pun? I couldn't help it) in the years since then. But I would think it a valuable source for any writer looking for clichés to avoid, or to use.

    I always like it when the MacGuffin involves some Phlebotinum. Because it's so hard to get good unobtanium, these days.

  2. Yeah, I think this site's kind of inspirational. Wouldn't you, as an author, want to come up with a new trope?

    Is it even possible?

  3. There is a book or an essay or something that said there is something like five plots in every human stories since blind Greek guys were making them up back in the day. The idea of tropes is constant in TV because most of the writers are lazy hacks who just copy what is popular. Something that is the least bit new or different is copied ad nasuem. The best shows are the ones that take a tired trope but put new life into it. Like fat stupid husband and beautiful smart wife (Honeymooners, Flintstones, King of Queens, According to Jim etc)
    single parent rasied by smarter kids (Courtship of Eddies Father, My favorite Martian, My Two Dads, Different Strokes etc) grizzled vet with rookie partner (Streets of San Fransico, NYPD Blue, Southland). A recent example is Southland that is one tonight. The trope is an old one. A veteran cop is the training officer for a rookie. The twist is that the macho ball busting cop is gay but no one knows it. The rookie is a rich kid whose family was held up by criminals I think because of his fathers drug use or something like that. Anyway a big part of the exposition will be tonight. So we can see if they can put a wrinkle on an old trope with these twists. It might be interesting.


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