Top Ten Tiresome Tropes

My essays are usually about research and history. Today, I felt like listing some pop culture plot devices from movies, TV, and novels that are long overdue for retirement.


  • The amateur woman sleuth has a cop boyfriend who violates the confidentiality of investigations and conveniently feeds her clues, a cozy mystery cliche.
Book covers of some cozy mysteries
Pee Wee Herman’s Big Adventure
  • Supernatural events are revealed to be fakery, only to have the final scene imply that the ghost is real after all. Midsomer Murders resorts to this repeatedly.
  • The good guy/male love interest is identified in novels by his crooked grin/lopsided smile. The overuse of this trope is provable:
Google Ngram showing incidence of crooked grin and lopsided smile in books it has digitized
  • The hero who needs to admit he is gay has a girlfriend/fiance who is overbearing and controlling, which defies any understanding of why he could have feelings for her in spite of his basic orientation.
  • The only attorneys who defend rapists and abusers on TV are women
  • Model-perfect women under 30 somehow have senior jobs that require decades of experience
From AutoStraddle.com.
  • Single heterosexual women on TV who have unplanned pregnancies give stirring pro-choice speeches, then keep the baby 100% of the time, AKA the Murphy Brown maneuver
Scene from Murphy Brown sitcom, 1992

Published by Cynthia Van Ness

Librarian, author, webmaster. BuffaloResearch.com is an on-my-own-time project, reflecting my own views and idiosyncracies.

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