Five Times Tropes Were Done Well, and One Time the Trope Wasn’t


Not my edit of the Mother of the Year on Vikings, but I wish it were.

I just wrote my first Five Times fanfic, a structure popular in fanfic in which you have a character in 5 thematically connected scenarios and then a 6th scenario that’s somehow different. It was a fun experience, and between doing that and thinking about various tropes I’ve been running across lately in my viewing and reading, I thought this might be kind of fun. Or, you know, not. We’ll see!


Five Times Tropes Were Done Well
1. Spirited Young Lady in Pride and Prejudice
My book club just discussed this novel, and if there’s anything Jane Austen did better than anyone, it was write a spunky heroine. Elizabeth Bennet, in fact, is pretty much the foundational character of this trope. She takes crap from no one–not her mother, Mr. Darcy, or even Lady Catherine. Yet, she’s always a lady, her spirit undimmed.

2. Spared by the Adaptation on The Musketeers
In the Dumas novel The Three Musketeers, Milady de Winter kills Constance and is then executed for the crime. God bless the BBC for saving them both in the Season 1 finale. Milady had a gun to Constance’s head, and it sure looked as if this adaptation would be following Dumas’s playbook, but then Constance got away, and when push came to shove, Athos couldn’t kill his wife, instead allowing Milady to go anywhere but Paris. (And least until the following season!)

3. Battle Couple on Legend of the Seeker
We finished The Shannara Chronicles last night, and we really were not thrilled with it. Much of what doesn’t work about the show for us is the lack of chemistry between the three leads, who are on a great quest together, fighting for their lives. More than once, we thought about Richard and Kahlan on Legend of the Seeker and how they represent the right way to create a couple battling their way through this world while trying to save it. They have individual charisma and great chemistry together, and it’s a joy to be on the journey with them.

4. Action Mom on Vikings
If you can find me a mother on TV you’d be more afraid to piss off than Lagertha, please let me know. (Seriously, let me know. I’d want to watch that show.) Katheryn Winnick has such presence and physicality to pull off the roll of shieldmaiden that the show really hit the jackpot when they cast her. She’s just fantastic and deadly. And a good mom.

5. Lampshade Hanging on Community
There might not be another TV show in history that pulled off so many tropes so well. And the show wasn’t afraid to admit that. So, the show was going to do a Bottle Episode? Of course Abed had to point out that it was a Bottle Episode. And the tropes always became more fun when the show happily admitted to doing them

One Time the Trope Wasn’t
1. Stuffed into the Fridge on The 100
Some characters are created to die in order to serve the plot and motivate the main characters. It’s why there are red shirts, and that’s okay. But when The 100 created Gina this season just so they could kill her and make Bellamy feel bad about it, they made a mistake, but not simply because they used a trope. No, the mistake was that there were numerous less offensive and more original ways to motive Bellamy. A few eps after the fridging, Bellamy had a confrontation with Clarke in which he admitted that her actions at the end of the previous season motivated him. This current season opened with Bellamy training new recruits, people he felt responsibly for, all of whom would have made more meaningful red shirts than a girlfriend we didn’t really know. Heck, I even have a friend who pointed out a beloved pet would have meant more than the random girlfriend.

I have a feeling I haven’t finished thinking about tropes in the fiction I consume and write. Watch this space for more ideas as I have them.


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