Trope: (noun) a common or overused theme or device
Obviously, there are plenty of problematic ones, but I’m skipping the general misogyny/sexist/racist/homophobic/ since I think we’re all pretty clear about our collective loathing for those!
At the top of my most-despised list, is the emotionally broken girl/bad boy scenario, usually with the inclusion of magical healing dick which cures the leading lady. To some degree, this scenario usually involves some form of possessive behavior, possible emotional abuse, and a helluva lot of emotional angst and drama. The worst depictions of this trope can be found in a lot of NA lit.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys
- Dark and Troubled Past
- Troubled, But Cute
- Entitled to Have You
Commonly associated with the above, but which also occurs on its own, is the stalking trope. Epitomised in Twilight, with Edward watching his dearly beloved get some zzz’s, this problematic concept of following the person you like to show your adoration, as well as pitching up at their house and checking up on them online, to name but a few examples, has popped up in a number of YA romances.
- Stalking is love
- Abduction is love
- Stalking Is Funny If It Is Female After Male
Not quite a trope, but more of a setting – I don’t enjoy books involving Hollywood, with famous MCs. Singers, actors, models… I don’t know why, but the famous person thing, with its associated issues, is a complete turn-off for me.
Also, although I think almost all of us are collectively sick of love triangles, I thought this trope analysis was pretty interesting:
- Fire and Ice Love Triangle
Also, this one seems to come up quite a lot in some of the urban fantasy books I’ve read:
- It’s Not You, It’s My Enemies
Hero/heroine tries to protect love interest by breaking up with them for their own safety: “I’m in a dangerous line of work, honey, I couldn’t handle it if you got hurt because of me.” Baddie kidnaps love interest anyway, because they KNOW hero/heroine will come in and save them regardless.
Tropes I love:
There’s just something about the ‘hate-turns-to-love’ trope that I adore. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be hate, so much as dislike, frustration, etc. Think Darcy and Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice, or Beatrice and Benedict in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing – those two couples are the ultimate example!
- Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other
- Belligerent Sexual Tension
Good friendship tropes, man. Snark! Banter! Bromance! Sisterhood! But I’ve got your back, and you’ve got mine!
- Like an Old Married Couple
- Vitriolic Best Buds
- Heterosexual life partners
- True Companions
- Fire-Forged Friends
- Snark-to-Snark Combat
- Family of Choice
Then, of course, along romance and snark comes:
- Flirting Under Fire
- Casual Danger Dialogue
I am not ashamed to admit, witty one liners, amongst love interests or no, and under threat of imminent death…well, they alternately make me laugh/tear-up/swoon/feel for my characters even more.
- Love Across Battlelines
Not the same as star-crossed loves, because the two actually get together – it’s more about their struggles with their feuding factions, and keeping their love (and themselves!) alive amidst conflicting loyalties. Yup, that’s my bulletproof romance trope right there!
This post has largely been focused on relationship tropes – I think I might do another one on fantasy tropes, when I’m feeling more energetic. Anyway, TV Tropes, which, despite the name, cover tropes across different forms of literature, media, etc, is an absolute gem to explore.
What are your worst and best relationship tropes? Agree with mine? Violently disagree? *ducks to avoid thrown objects*