Overused Tropes and Clichés – Can We Get a Break?

Overused Tropes and Cliches

OMG, I’m Soooo tired of reading these same tropes and clichés. They’ve been used and abused well past the point of beating that poor horse to death. (Uh oh) Nothing new or original under the sun? (Oops!) We’re doing this again, are we?

Trope, as in commonly used theme or device–

Cliché, as in phrase or expression used for the gazillionth time into ad nauseum.

Well, is it a trope or a cliché? Has the trope been used so many times it’s beyond predictable? Past the point of boredom? Then it’s a trope that has become a cliché!

I’ve gathered a few “just off the top of my head” (chuckle), that is really beginning to set my teeth grinding (adding insult to injury). (A triple!-don’t get me started.)

Dump the Tropes:

  1. Damaged female protagonists – with or without ginger-colored hair and all male protagonists over 6′ and hunky.
  2. Capable female protagonists suddenly incapable or worse in the presence of the 6′ hunk (see #1).
  3. Bad boy sheriff – but always gets his man even if he has to fight the whole town to do it.
  4. Back to the old, small home town–couldn’t wait to get away–come crawling back.
  5. Cop in love with the criminal–because they aren’t really guilty, you see.
  6. Cop with troubled past, abuses alcohol and his connections, still gets his man (or woman).
  7. The old love triangle–who to choose, eenie, meanie…
  8. Insta-love (’nuff said)
  9. The average, normal everyday guy (girl) who turns lucky and wins the big one–whatever that is.
  10. The ugly one who turns beautiful. (Took their glasses off?)
  11. Dystopian–depressing, just flat depressing.
  12. Conspiracy theory but there’s one in the world (the protagonist) who can see and solve it.
  13. The evil one, well, mostly evil until…
  14. Secret witch, magician, possesses magical powers
  15. Bad, abusive childhood, one parent household
  16. Super conflict between male/female resulting in “heated arguments” that result in protagonist passion.
  17. The nerd with IT that can invade any computer or the kids with more tech-savvy than their parents.
  18. Children with witty mouths obviously smarter than adults.
  19. Vampires, zombies
  20. Amateur sleuths who must solve the case because the police can’t (or won’t).
  21. The amnesiac, can’t remember or won’t?
  22. Only child discovers they are the long lost relative of a maga-rich uncle (aunt?).
  23. The crotchety old mentor who turns sweet and nurturing. (see #21)

Animal slap

Of course, along with the tropes, I began gathering overused clichés (in addition to the above):

  1. He/she scrubbed her fingers through his/her hair–used his/her fingers to rake her hair.
  2. Grabbed an errant strand of hair and tucked it behind her ear.
  3. Is that all you got?
  4. I’m just doing my job.
  5. What part of [fill in the blank] don’t you understand?
  6. Did I just say that out loud?

I know you can add many to the above lists. I actually found a website that listed almost 700 clichés not to use in your manuscript (or that are found in the books you are reading). These clichés are getting mighty tired for those of us reading the books. Going forward, can we avoid these like the plague? (Oops.)

There was a recent meme discussion that Shanah of Bionic Book Worm circulated that she included in her Top 5 Tuesday for October. You may wish to catch a few of those as well. I’ve also gleaned a number of the above suggestions from The Writing Cooperative by Zoe Nixon. Lively discussions! Do you have your particularly egregious list as well?

©2018 V Williams V Williams

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