Questions tagged [trope]

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

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5 votes
2 answers
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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 ...
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36 votes
1 answer
4k 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&...
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22 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- ...
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4 votes
3 answers
283 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 ...
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25 votes
2 answers
4k 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?
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3 votes
1 answer
322 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 ...
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3 votes
0 answers
150 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 &...
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2 votes
0 answers
125 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 ...
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3 votes
1 answer
91 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. ...
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8 votes
1 answer
714 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&...
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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 ...
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 ...
9 votes
2 answers
647 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, ...
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5 votes
3 answers
2k 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, ...
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6 votes
0 answers
235 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 ...
5 votes
1 answer
530 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 ...
2 votes
0 answers
123 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 ...
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-4 votes
1 answer
260 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 ...
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10 votes
1 answer
347 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, "When are we?". What is the earliest instance of this joke being made? I am ...
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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 ...
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54 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 ...
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81 votes
4 answers
12k 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 ...
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16 votes
1 answer
555 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 ...
2 votes
1 answer
231 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, ...
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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 ...
42 votes
1 answer
13k 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 ...
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1 vote
3 answers
1k 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 ...
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101 votes
2 answers
7k 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 ...
4 votes
0 answers
294 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 ...
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 ...
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3 votes
3 answers
422 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 ...
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2 votes
5 answers
448 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 ...
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7 votes
2 answers
566 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’...
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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 ...
11 votes
1 answer
3k 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. ...
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31 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 "...
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110 votes
7 answers
14k 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 ...
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2 votes
1 answer
325 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 ...
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2 votes
2 answers
331 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 ...
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5 votes
4 answers
762 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 ...
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3 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 ...
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5 votes
0 answers
128 views

What's the first appearance of Becoming the Costume on Halloween in literature?

What's the first appearance of Becoming the Costume on Halloween in literature? Something turns people into whatever costume they are wearing.
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11 votes
1 answer
571 views

Origin of "giveaway eyes for shapeshifters" trope

This use of giveaway eye flashes, changes in colour, or changes to the iris shape seems to be a common trope in several series as a way of informing the viewer when a nearby shapeshifter is listening/...
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4 votes
1 answer
289 views

When has Superman stunted human progress, and what prevents him from doing so?

Superman takes care of problems the human race appears unable to contend with on their own. Even without evil geniuses and super-powered villains, though, Superman has the capacity to do things that ...
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11 votes
8 answers
922 views

What is the earliest example of a "Blighted Land" created by human or semi-human activity?

Chernobyl is the ur-example of a real Blighted Land. There is an 18 mile exclusion zone around the melted reactor that is deemed not fit for human habitation (this is of course ignored by animals, ...
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15 votes
1 answer
889 views

Is there anything to the idea of an "Uncle Ben" trope? [closed]

There seems to be a trend of Uncles Ben who inspire a protagonist and then die (or at least appear to), inspiring them some more: Spider-Man's Uncle Ben Luke Skywalker's "uncle" Ben Kenobi (uncle in ...
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32 votes
16 answers
12k views

If the ship's self-destruct is such a great idea why don't real Navies do this? [closed]

Background to my question: I watched a recent episode of The Expanse where the ship's captain It got me thinking, in-universe this appears to make no sense! Ships having a self-destruct is a ...
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6 votes
1 answer
1k views

Why is the strongest magic frequently ancient? [closed]

It seems a common trope in universes with magic that the most powerful spells are ancient and no longer in practice either because they were forgotten or forbidden. New wizards learn the basics but ...
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6 votes
1 answer
966 views

What's the history of the prefix "Age of"?

Context I came to realize that there are two recent films (probably more) which contain Age of in their subtitle: Avengers: Age of Ultron and Tranformers: Age of Extinction The thing about these ...
2 votes
1 answer
442 views

Where did wishes come from?

When you look into the wish trope, you tend to get pointed back to Aladdin from The Book of One Thousand and One Nights as the originator. But wishes in Aladdin really didn't work the way modern ...
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