Treacherous Tropes: Cliches in media that are overdone


Madelyn Woodard, Opinion Guest-Writer

Listen up future authors, directors and TV writers. I would like to do you a favor and inform you of a few media tropes that I do NOT want to be forced to read or watch again.
Redemption arc (gone wrong)
Although these are in no particular order, the one I find most disappointing out of this list has to be the ‘redemption’ arc. A redemption arc can be an incredibly compelling storyline but, when it’s rushed, as it often is, it can come off as sloppy. This has the opposite of its intended effect. My favorite example of this arc is Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender. He was never a really bad person but his actions didn’t reflect his own potential for good. By the end of the series though, he had learned to question the propaganda he had been shown all his life and worked really hard to right his wrongs. A simple ‘Sorry bro’ isn’t enough to be a true redemption arc. The whole point of this type of plotline is for a characters to acknowledge their faults and not only apologize but do better.
Next up is a favorite in the drama genre: jealousy over your partner’s (or best friends) success. This trope could be done well if it wasn’t used for cheap arguments. This whole concept is rooted in sexism and paints the woman as a bad person for having ambition and a life that doesn’t completely revolve around a man and having children. It creates these two-dimensional characters that could have been really interesting but fall flat just to appeal to the male audience and those that subscribe to the idea that the only things a woman can value are men and having children. One example of this is Rachel in Friends. During her on and off relationship with Ross there was a recurring fight in which Ross would become jealous over her success and relationship with her co-workers, this lead to their biggest fight and original break-up. Later in the series, she also abandons her dream job in Paris for him even though they have been fighting for over five years. I can’t imagine giving up a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a mediocre man that I don’t particularly like.
Bullies to Lovers
Lastly, I’d like to present a trope that I like to call “Bullies to Lovers”. This is a twist on the ever-popular enemies to lovers except there are no moral arguments being placed and no grand battle between good and evil. For anyone unfamiliar with this concept it usually goes something like this: “I’ve tormented you for 15 years but it turns out I love you?” Yeah, that sounds like the beginning of a totally healthy relationship…I guess. I can’t be the only one who has seen tons of movies and books where the love interest has just been bullying the main character since grade school but because they are attractive it’s considered a sign of affection. I don’t know why but for some reason that feels a bit problematic.
The point is, these repetitive plot lines are only taking away from the hard work of the people writing these shows and movies. A story can be incredibly detailed and have interesting characters but when they rely too heavily on cliches and tropes that have been used in every way imaginable, everyone suffers. I can enjoy a cliche once in a while; it’s comforting to know what will happen next but when it feels like every piece of media you consume has the same plot it is frustrating for everyone involved. This list is just the tip of the iceberg, I promise you that if you think about it you can find 10 more that annoy you.