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Questions tagged [trope]

For questions about tropes, a common plot, cliché or meme which appears in literature or media.

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Looking for more information on a Wuxia novel term (返老還童)

I have come across this term (返老還童) in a few of the manhwas and novels that I have been reading, and each work translates it to a different name and the rules are all a bit different. I know generally ...
ella's user avatar
  • 59
3 votes
3 answers
255 views

What was the first "Earth all along" story in Science Fiction?

In a similar vein to this other question and this other question, what is the first story where people explore a mysterious planet that turns out to be a post-apocalyptic Earth? Youtuber Liminal ...
Spencer's user avatar
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22 votes
4 answers
3k views

First fictional lab-created plague

I'm doing my regular reread of Stephen King's The Stand and I got to wondering about the first example of a fictional manmade plague. I know in the book Day of the Triffids there was a lab created ...
Danny Mc G's user avatar
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8 votes
2 answers
1k views

Earliest 'space locust'/'devouring swarm' type of alien in science fiction?

Modern examples include the Zerg from StarCraft, Tyranids from Warhammer 40,000; the aliens from Alien (1979) are also central examples and seem like the immediate antecedent for most modern takes. ...
RegorOld's user avatar
  • 109
9 votes
2 answers
4k views

What is the origin of the "suddenly you have no mouth" trope?

A fairly common trope in the fantasy/science fiction/horror genre is the sudden absence of one's mouth and the inability to breathe and/or scream. Off the top of my head: Neo in The Matrix and Black ...
ThePopMachine's user avatar
7 votes
0 answers
134 views

What was the first work where the main characters became the 'aliens' who crashed at Roswell?

In some science fiction works, such as Futurama's Roswell that Ends Well and DS9's Little Green Men, established characters somehow go back in time and crash-land near Roswell New Mexico, and ...
Nu'Daq's user avatar
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10 votes
4 answers
2k views

What's the first instance in published fiction that shows an item from the future traveling back through time by itself?

When I say by itself I mean that it's not worn, carried or used to carry a time traveller. It also cannot be sentient, thinking or automated in anyway, no time traveling robots please! I'm also only ...
AncientSwordRage's user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
117 views

Name for trope where a POV character has someone hanging out in their mind?

I've seen this trope in a lot of different media, where a telepathic being (not necessarily capable of telepathy with anyone, this can be limited to the one character) is just sort of hanging out in ...
Evyn's user avatar
  • 49
39 votes
8 answers
7k views

What is the origin of the "self-destruct sequence"?

As far as I'm aware, we don't have anything like a self-destruct or auto-destruct sequence in real life ships at sea or in space, so where did the idea originate? I'm thinking of a specific function ...
miken32's user avatar
  • 767
7 votes
2 answers
923 views

What's the oldest "accidental (potion) ingredient as inciting incident" story?

What's the oldest "accidental (potion) ingredient as inciting incident" story? Is it 1886's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, where the accidental ingredient's a "impurity of ...
Malady's user avatar
  • 3,765
36 votes
1 answer
5k views

Where does the "aging backwards" trope originate?

Michael Ende's The Neverending Story features the Sassafranians, people who are born old and age backwards until they die as babies. F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button&...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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20 votes
4 answers
7k views

Why do magically shrunken people speak with such high voices?

In many films/television series/videogames, a character who has been reduced to minuscule size either by magic or advanced technology suddenly starts to speak with a very high-pitched, squeaky voice- ...
Nu'Daq's user avatar
  • 26.4k
3 votes
3 answers
327 views

Which was the first story to feature a 'Fighting spirit'?

A 'fighting spirit' fights instead of the one summoning and controlling it, and may be visible or invisible but have.some connection to the user. In X-Men Apocalypse (2016), before Jean Grey attacks ...
Pablo's user avatar
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24 votes
2 answers
6k views

What was the earliest depiction of the angel/devil on your shoulder trope?

What is the oldest depiction someone has seen of an angel on a person's shoulder advising him to do the right thing, and a devil on the same person's other shoulder tempting him toward an immoral act?
Nu'Daq's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
396 views

First example of mind control changing eyes?

I've noticed a common trope in SciFi/Fantasy: mind control changes the subject's eye color or, usually in more cartoonish works, gives the subject "spinning eyes". What is the original ...
user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
531 views

Where did "Dungeon Breaks", a.k.a monsters flooding out of a dungeon, come from?

Where did "Dungeon Breaks", a.k.a monsters flooding out of a dungeon, come from? We know where the term for monster-zone "dungeons" came from, since that was my question... But &...
Malady's user avatar
  • 3,765
2 votes
0 answers
152 views

What is the origin of the trope of enslaved wizards/witches?

I have been reading The Wheel of Time books, and found the Seanchan Damanes to be very similar to The Tethered Mage books, where magic is rare and strictly controlled (even with minders that use ...
spardy's user avatar
  • 29
3 votes
1 answer
93 views

Who were the first heroes to go on an adventure because their hometown was destroyed during a festival?

In Wheel of Time (2021) S1E1 the heroes embark on their adventure because their hometown is destroyed during a festival. I assume the same happens in The Eye of the World but I don't know for certain. ...
BraveFoot's user avatar
  • 341
6 votes
1 answer
1k views

Why do vampires hiss?

It is a bit of a trope that vampires hiss, typically when exposed to a cross, sunlight, or other weakness. So, my train of thought went a bit like this: Werewolves and Vampires have a "rivalry&...
Ben's user avatar
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10 votes
3 answers
1k views

Are clinical trials done in the Star Trek universe?

It's a very common trope in the Star Trek universe for treatments to the disease du jour to be developed and rolled out very rapidly. Many, if not most, of the main characters or even most of an ...
Robert Columbia's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
1k views

Unending Series of Rooms

My instinct is that there is a fantasy trope of the hero/protagonist exploring a (seemingly) unending series of rooms. I feel like I have encountered this trope in multiple books, but the only one I ...
user402517's user avatar
9 votes
2 answers
822 views

First story to feature the trope "the nice self-sufficient society that welcomed us are actually cannibals"?

It is not an infrequent trope in sci-fi shows for our protagonists to be struggling in their adventure, only to stumble across a seemingly nice self-sufficient society which they are welcomed into, ...
Kitsune's user avatar
  • 1,425
5 votes
3 answers
3k views

Where did the hypnotic spiral originate from?

A common trope associated with hypnotists in fiction is the use of spinning spirals to hypnotize people. However, when I tried to look up articles about them online (e.g. on Wikipedia, Google Scholar, ...
nick012000's user avatar
  • 2,133
5 votes
0 answers
268 views

Did Tolkien invent the trope of the "green glint" in the eye? If not, who did?

In J.R.R. Tolkien's The Two Towers (1954), Sméagol has a transient "green glint" in his eye when his Gollum alter ego surfaces in his consciousness. At the word hungry a greenish light was ...
Invisible Trihedron's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
560 views

Why are the Elves always shown as having thoughts about leaving this world for some utopia rather than reveling in their life on Earth? [closed]

Is this trope there to reinforce the belief that Elves are a superior race, come from somewhere else and they don't have the vigour and childish imagination of the more mundane races to find peace in ...
user1194497's user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
132 views

Trope where Everyone Believes Something when they Should Know Better [closed]

In the novel Dune we are told that doctors from the Suk school receive Imperial conditioning so that their loyalty is unbreakable, and no doctor from this school will ever act in a way that will harm ...
EvilSnack's user avatar
  • 3,742
-4 votes
1 answer
284 views

Is the Coraline movie trying to make a point that people should have freedom?

I know it was originally a book and I'm wondering whether the original story was trying to make a point that people should have freedom. In the Coraline movie, the main character Coraline went into ...
Timothy's user avatar
  • 189
9 votes
1 answer
450 views

Who was the first to make use of the joke "You mean, when are we?"

There is a very common joke in time-travelling stories. One person asks "Where are we?" and the other responds, "You mean, when are we?". What is the earliest instance of this joke ...
TheAsh's user avatar
  • 25.3k
15 votes
1 answer
5k views

What is the origin of the “clerics can create water” trope?

All Dungeons and Dragons edition I'm familiar with have its Cleric character class. Apparently, D&D Cleric is a trope of its own. Many D&D "clerical" spells were still inspired by popular ...
enkryptor's user avatar
  • 1,049
55 votes
10 answers
16k views

What is the origin of the "being immortal sucks" trope?

In a lot of science fiction and fantasy, there is the trope of someone becoming immortal, but then being really sad about it, deciding that it is worse than being mortal. What is the oldest work to ...
Stormblessed's user avatar
  • 11.4k
83 votes
4 answers
13k views

Sol Ⅲ = Earth: What is the origin of this planetary naming scheme?

It appears to be a fairly common planetary naming scheme in science fiction: Take the common name (or its bayer designation) of star and append the planetary ordinal in the form of a Roman or Arabic ...
Alexander's user avatar
  • 799
16 votes
1 answer
624 views

Where did the concept of single-use spell scrolls originate?

It has been a standard rule in Dungeons & Dragons for as long as I can remember that spell scrolls are single-use items. Once a spell is cast from the scroll (or, sometimes, even if an ...
Robert Columbia's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
241 views

Trope identification and earliest examples: Stereotype exists because of banished people

Trope described: Humans live (quite far) away from race/species/distinct group of people called X. There is a lot of negative stereotypes about the X. They are all dishonorable, thieves, murderers, ...
jo1storm's user avatar
  • 5,006
30 votes
3 answers
6k views

Does the Disney canon of Star Wars include any multiple-biome planets?

Star Wars is quite famous for fitting the Single Biome Planet trope to a T (warning: TVTropes link). You have the desert worlds of Tatooine and Jakku, the Forest Moon of Endor, the woodland planet of ...
Robert Columbia's user avatar
42 votes
1 answer
16k views

Origin of genies (from lamps) having a three wish limit?

In the original 1001 Nights (a.k.a. Arabian Nights) story "Aladdin" the titular character gets a lamp that contains a magical being called a "genie" that grants wishes. This is fairly common knowledge ...
VLAZ's user avatar
  • 909
1 vote
3 answers
2k views

Is Enfys Nest's name meant to be a pun?

In Solo: A Star Wars Story fans are introduced to a new character named Enfys Nest, a leader of a rebelling pirate group called, the Cloud Riders. Later in the film it is revealed that Enfys I have ...
Darth Locke's user avatar
  • 1,962
103 votes
2 answers
8k views

Is there a term for the science fiction trope where a character lists two historical things and a future thing?

In Babylon 5, for example, a character lists famous bombings like "Hiroshima, Dresden, San Diego" with the first items in the list being real and the last being fictional. This dialog technique of ...
Wickethewok's user avatar
4 votes
0 answers
306 views

The evil, repressive government is trying to stop the heroes! For a very good reason, it turns out [duplicate]

I have a memory of a short story in which a plucky group of scientists and researchers (and maybe students?) invent a machine that allows you to view any place and period in history. It will ...
David White's user avatar
14 votes
2 answers
3k views

First non humanoid intelligent alien depiction in television?

Broken out from this related question Given that human looking intelligent aliens are so common as to be a trope, what is the earliest depiction in Television of an intelligent alien life form as ...
JohnP's user avatar
  • 19.6k
4 votes
3 answers
518 views

First non humanoid intelligent alien depiction in film?

Broken out for film from this question Given that human looking intelligent aliens are so common as to be a trope, what is the earliest depiction in Film of an intelligent alien life form as being ...
JohnP's user avatar
  • 19.6k
3 votes
5 answers
527 views

First non humanoid intelligent alien depiction in literature?

In an unrelated question, I was thinking of the Horta (ST:TOS, Devil in the Dark), which to paraphrase McCoy in one of the books looks like "an ambulatory pepperoni pizza, extra cheese". Given that ...
JohnP's user avatar
  • 19.6k
9 votes
2 answers
612 views

When was the fantasy trope of psychological invisibility first used?

In the Enchanters’ End Game, the last book of the Belgariad series, the following exchange between Belgarath the sorcerer and Silk takes place, when they discuss how the Sword has been hidden: “It’...
Narusan's user avatar
  • 577
30 votes
3 answers
3k views

Is there special symbolism of evil and undead in the north?

Is there a reason or special symbolism for evil to fester in the northern reaches of a world? Three examples I can remember on the top of my head is Tolkien with Melkors/Morgoths stronghold of ...
Mainstroke's user avatar
11 votes
1 answer
4k views

How many Dornishman-jokes do we know?

In Westeros, like our world, stereotypical and/or racist jokes are common. Given the rivalry between Highgarden and Dorne, such jokes about Dornishmen seem to be particularly popular in the Reach1. ...
Aegon's user avatar
  • 48.5k
34 votes
2 answers
3k views

What was the first published SF story to use the surprise twist "and these characters were the original Adam and Eve!" at the end?

A very long time ago, I checked out a book from a library. It was 100 Great Science Fiction Short Short Stories, edited by Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg. One of those short-shorts is "...
Lorendiac's user avatar
  • 27.2k
111 votes
7 answers
15k views

Were the Smurfs the first to smurf their smurfs?

On Rick and Morty, Squanchy squanches some of his squanches with "squanch". On South Park, we saw the Marklar marklar their marklar with "marklar". Before those two shows, the Smurfs already smurfed ...
SQB's user avatar
  • 38.8k
2 votes
1 answer
401 views

Is super heroes lighting their logos on fire a trope?

Frank Castle did it in the first of the recent Punisher movies: Batman in The Dark Knight Rises: Let's not forget Matt Murdock's tag in Daredevil the movie: Are there more cases of this in film and ...
user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
415 views

Origin / History of the "Small crew & beat up starship" trope

I really like the: "Small crew and beat up starship" trope: The Millennium Falcon (Star Wars) The Bebop (Cowboy Bebop) Serenity (Firefly) Ships that aren't the nicest, but have a hard working team ...
King_llama's user avatar
  • 2,261
4 votes
4 answers
782 views

Is there a precedent for the use of this trope in Star Trek?

I liked most of Star Trek Beyond, but I wasn't thrilled about the climax, when the crew I didn't enjoy it because it's so implausible, but I'd be more comfortable if it was a nod to an event in the ...
z0r's user avatar
  • 335
4 votes
1 answer
3k views

What is the significance of Axolotls in Gravity Falls?

Both in- and out-of-universe, Axolotls are a reoccurring element in Gravity Falls. In the first episode and the online game Mystery Shack Mystery, the Mystery Shack tank contains what seems to be an ...
Rogue Jedi's user avatar