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Here’s another way to figure out what kind of story structure you’ve got going, along with what kind of characters you have. This table was made by the wonderfully creative computersherpa, and tropes are based on TV Tropes.

It’s a freakishly fun exercise to figure out if your character / novel has themes that may be too common, or if you successfully subvert enough tropes to  make it unique for your genre. Here’s a few examples using three of my five hundred and sixteen existing WIPs:

The Unusual States of Dead Girls

Un – IacEwi – Sqi

This means Unusual States has an Undead protagonist (this is not in the periodic table, but it was the closest trope) with a very decided Berserk Button when something is mentioned in her presence, and has an antagonist who is a Sealed Evil in a Can (and also serves as an Evil Within moment for another contagonist), and since this is a psychological horror YA, much Squick ensues.


Stw Cal (Two Roads) – Kz Det
|                                          |
Aa                                   Dyn

The story revolves around a Klutz but is nonetheless a Determinator who progresses into a Dynamic Character as the story continues, where he has to Save the World and answer The Call (Two Roads are placed before him, forcing him to choose one) where Magic A is Magic A but in the end, will eventually be revealed to be a Subverted Trope.

Clock Tiger

Phl Tb Aa
Bbw – Scl – Ag

A Badass Bookworm (who is very Genre Savvy) and an Action Girl are Star-crossed Lovers in a world where Magic A is Magic A, with Applied Phlebotinum and a bit of Techno Babble, and a whole Empire after them.

Note the differences. You can easily see that while Firekeeper and Clock Tiger incorporate more story and plot-driven elements, Unusual States relies more on character development and interaction.

This can apply to individual characters, too. You should be able to tell what kind of personality your character would have based on their elements. Here’s an example using one of my favorite characters from Firekeeper, named Cole:

Cal (Resigned)
Th Jhg – Edh

So by this description, we know Cole is a Tragic Hero (the implication something happen to him at some point in the series, and it ain’t gonna be pretty), yet is also a Jerk with a Heart of Gold and, (if my beta readers are right on this) would be Ensemble Darkhorse fodder, since he seems to be pretty popular with them.

Try this out with your own characters / novels! It’s already put some perspective on some of my WIPs (do I really want Techno Babble to be a defining trait for Clock Tiger, for example?) and it probably can for yours, too!

Warning: If you click on TV Tropes you’re going to be wiki-hopping like crazy for the next several hours, so I made brief summaries of each element listed below, with a TV Trope link. (Ctrl+f and type the element you’d like to read a summary of.) Just long enough to stay on this page and cobble together a few of your own story blocks BEFORE succumbing to wiki temptation.


[c] Conflict – what it says. Must be the driving force of the plot (contemporary YA won’t be big on this, for example)

[3as] Three Act Structure – self-explanatory

[Re] The Reveal – “The Reveal is in fact a rather easily explained trope. A lot of mystery stories wouldn’t work without either the criminal or the detective explaining how the crime was committed, and a lot of other plots would leave people with more questions than answers if they never bothered to explain the plot to other characters…and by extension, the viewers. It’s easy to explain it off-screen, but doing so would confuse the viewer and make them think they missed something.”

[Cmx] The Climax – ” When the Big Bad and The Hero duke it out over the MacGuffin. When the detective has his showdown with the murderer. Etc.”

[Den] The Denouement – “French for “unknotting”, and means the point in the story when mysteries are unraveled, fates are determined and explanations are made. It is not, as is commonly believed, synonymous with climax: This is the aftermath of the action, not the peak.”

[End] The End – self-explanatory

[Chk] Chekhov’s Gun – something that has no significance whatsoever. Named after Star Trek’s Ensign Chekhov, who has a phaser gun but has never used it.

[McG] MacGuffin – “…usually a mysterious package/artifact/superweapon that everyone in the story is chasing.”

[Bks] Backstory – “A good actor or writer has a strong sense of each character’s Back Story, as it gives the character texture and shadings and keeps them from being two-dimensional. It makes an excellent source for The Reveal, and bits often are handled out: why The Rival resents The Hero so much; how the Fake Ultimate Hero got his reputation; why The Captain suffers from Bad Dreams. Hopefully, this is when the information is both plot relevant and likely to come up.”

[Ret] Retcon – “Reframing past events to serve a current plot need. When the inserted events work with what was previously stated, it’s a Revision; when they outright replace it, it’s a Rewrite. The ideal retcon clarifies a question alluded to without adding excessive new questions. In its most basic form, this is any plot point that was not intended from the beginning. The most preferred use is where it contradicts nothing, even though it was changed later on.”

[Arc] Story Arc – “is a sequence of episodes that puts characters through their paces in response to a single impetus; basically, an ongoing storyline. ”

[Rar] Romance Arc – same as story arc, but with an emphasis on romance

[Tri] Love Triangle – self-explanatory

[Hil] Hilarity Ensues – “Alleged consequence of any event in a Sitcom or cartoon which in the real world would result in hospitalization, a lawsuit, or dismissal from one’s job, at the very least, up to and including possible imprisonment.”


[Ae] An Aesop – ends with a moral lesson

[Srs] Serious Business – “when a story revolves around an activity where a sizable portion of the in-story population takes it far more seriously than they should.”

[Msq] The Masquerade – ” the story is intended to be set in “our” world, and the streets of Anytown USA might seem a bit less familiar if they were filled with vampires and witches and the like who were making their presence obvious. The Masquerade makes it easier for the fans to imagine what it feels like to live as a “normal” person in the setting.”

[Rcy] Recycled IN SPACE – “Stories are often recycled from other shows, with the setting changed with just enough of a gimmick to make it look different. The characters will have the same character types, sometimes even the same voice actors. Sometimes these will be direct spinoffs, with the same characters with one major time or setting change. Putting the series into space, though, is the big one.”

[X] X Meets Y – “used to pitch a show or to quickly sum up the impression a show gives by expressing it as the sum of two separate, unrelated series.”

[Aa] Magic A is Magic A – “Works heavy on speculative elements, such as Science Fiction and Fantasy, often have an assortment of fantastic intangibles we cannot even dream of encountering in Real Life- yet act in a completely consistent way, as if governed by imaginary rules of physics.”

[Ivc] Sliding Scale of Idealism versus Cynicism – “A story can be idealistic or cynical towards any idea. It is important to remember that idealism does not always mean optimism/happy endings and cynicism does not always mean pessimism/downer endings. In general, if the story positively values a particular ideology, then it is idealistic. If the story assaults an ideology, then it is cynical. A very cynical series could be quite lighthearted, conversely a very idealistic series could be extremely dark. It’s likewise true that comedies can be cynical as all hell, and dark dramas or brutal deconstructions can come out idealistic.”

[Sq] Status Quo is God – each installment of the series will open under virtually identical circumstances to the installment that came before. True for most cartoons.

[Cal] Call to Adventure – “the Hero learns that he must leave the known world behind and venture to unknown regions. How the Hero reacts to the call to adventure varies, but Heroes who initially reject the call are usually significantly worse off than if they had accepted.”

[Rq] Redemption Quest – “the character is in a bad place but wants to do better, and they are granted one final chance to do so, usually in the form of a grand, nearly impossible task.”

[Hj] Hero’s Journey – A bit more complicated, so here’s the link:

[Stw] Saving the World – t doesn’t matter what the party’s original goals were (or those of its members); they’re going to end up Saving the World from an unstoppable, inconceivable threat – and will only defeat said threat only when the world is right on the brink of doom.”

[Tfc] They Fight Crime – “Two very different characters are obliged to work together to solve a crime. The premise is very often, but not always, expressed in trailers and pitches as “He’s an X. She’s a Y. Together, they fight crime!” So much that it’s almost become a Stock Phrase. Expect lots of cultural clash humor arising both from different policing traditions and from general personal differences between the two characters.”


[Anv] Anvilicious – ” a writer’s and/or director’s use of an artistic element, be it line of dialogue, visual motif, or plot point, to so obviously or unsubtly convey a particular message that they may as well etch it onto an anvil and drop it on your head.”

[Bti] Beyond the Impossible – something impossible happens, even though it is technically not possible according to the story’s own logic

[Cl2] Crosses the Line Twice – “go [intentionally] so far over the top that it breaks the audience’s Willing Suspension of Disbelief (eg, something’s so terrible it’s funny).”

[Ria] Refuge in Audacity – “Characters can get away with outrageous acts by making them overblown to the point of absurdity. Toning them down to realistic levels would be more offensive, either to logic or to morality.”

[Dae] Darker and Edgier – “seeks to make a work of fiction “more adult” [when it originally is not]. Usually, this is practically interpreted as “add more sex, profanity, heavy violence, and controversial content.”

[Scw] Mind Screw – something that relies so heavily on symbolism (or just surrealism/absurdism) that the immediate response afterwards is “What the heck was that?!?!”

[Aws] What do you Mean, It’s Not Awesome? – adding expressive gestures, close-ups, dramatic music, etc. to an otherwise ordinary scene

[Bwb] Fanservice – self-explanatory

[Cry] Tearjerker – self-explanatory

[Ang] Wangst – “angst overdone or clumsily handled”

[Jts] Jumping the Shark – self-explanatory

[Gtb] Growing the Beard – “definitive moment when a television series begins to become noticeably better in quality. ”


[Phl] Applied Phlebotinum – “In essence, it is the stuff that makes the plot go. Without it, the story would grind to an abrupt halt. It’s science, it’s magic, it’s strange things unknown to science or magic. The reader does not know how Phlebotinum would work and the creators hope he or she doesn’t care.”

[Tb] Techno Babble – “Can be used to explain or justify plot developments or simply to add to the genre feel. Comes from the fact that scientific language, despite being meant to allow for easier understanding between scientists, sounds flashy and arcane to the untrained ear.”

[Wav] Hand Wave – “any flimsy explanation – particularly involving the backstory, a retcon, or a use of phlebotinum – which is noteworthy for its lack of detail or coherence. It may be used to (try to) hold together an Idiot Plot or an otherwise outrageous story. Often consists of throwaway lines like “it’s the only way.”

[Dx] Deus Ex Machina – self-explanatory

[Ass] Ass Pull – “when writers pull something out of thin air in a less-than-graceful narrative development, by dropping a plot-critical detail in the middle, or near the end of their narrative without Foreshadowing.”

[Iac] Sealed Evil in a Can – “a way to introduce a villain suddenly, especially one that is legendary and powerful. It also explains why the villain hasn’t done anything up to that point: It just now escaped.”

[Aod] Artifact of Doom – “The Artifact of Doom is somewhat an unusual villain in that it is an inanimate object. Nevertheless, it’s pure evil; and is a threat of corrupting all to The Dark Side. It may also cause Great Insanity, not to mention death, or worse.”

[Xan] Xanatos Gambit – “assumes two possible outcomes for the one manipulated — success or failure. The plan is designed in such a way that either outcome will ultimately further the plotter’s goals.”

[Bdh] Big Damn Heroes – “Any time the heroes get to save the day in a big, awesome manner.”

[Pet] Pet the Dog – “show the nasty old crank petting a dog [or doing some other good], and you show the audience, aw shucks, he’s all right after all.”

[Kik] Kick the Dog – “A character performs an act so casually cruel or evil that you know that they are scum, incompatible with the moral rules of the series that they’re in. This is a signal to the audience that it’s okay to dislike the character.”

[Hrz] Moral Event Horizon – “refers to the first evil deed to prove a particular character to be irredeemably evil.”


[H] The Hero – self-explanatory

[Ah] Anti Hero – self-explanatory

[Ih] Idiot Hero – “Often, he is both the main protagonist and the central character of the narrative. He will frequently use the Indy Ploy, will probably be a Big Eater, will be too stupid to be afraid of imminent peril, and will often have a short memory span.” Despite thisa, he is often the most effective member at fighting.

[Sh] Super hero – self-explanatory

[Kh] Kid Hero – self-explanatory

[Gh] Guile Hero – “a hero who operates by playing politics and manipulating the bad guys. The Guile Hero trades swords and guns (or science and technology) for charm, wit, political and/or financial acumen, and an in-depth knowledge of human nature.”

[Th] Tragic Hero – self-explanatory

[Kni] The Knight in Shining Armor – self-explanatory

[Neo] The Chosen One – self-explanatory

[Ag] Action Girl – self-explanatory

[Pg] Plucky Girl – ” exhibiting a strong sense of optimism and an unassailable spirit that differentiates her from the grimness of a determinator. You can beat her, but damned if she’ll let you break her.”

[Det] Determinator – “There is no stopping the Determinator. They do not understand tact. They do not Know When to Fold ‘Em, and it’s a waste of time to tell them the odds. No one can reason with them. They’ll do whatever they have to without question. No price is too great to pay for success, up to and including their own life (and others’). Do not expect them to realize they might be better off letting it go, even if they can barely stand. If you’re ever kidnapped or lost with no hope of rescue, they’ll be the one who will find you. Their adversaries will shout, in exasperated rage, “Why Won’t You Die?!”.”

[Gb] Genius Bruiser – “A Big Guy who is also a geek or tech-head.”

[5ma] Five Man Band – a group of characters whose members fall into archetypes which all complement one another. They are a very specific team with skills that contribute to the group in a unique way.
[H] The Hero
[L] The Lancer
[S] The Smart Guy
[B] The Big Guy
[Ch] The Chick

[Bbw] Badass Bookworm – “This character is a quiet smart guy or girl who is physically unimposing and soft-spoken, but with hidden depths of formidable physical and practical skills.”

[Tp] Technical Pacifist – “willing to beat people up as much as he wants. He may even get a few fatalities through the fridge. However, once it comes down to a choice between killing the villain and not killing the villain, the Technical Pacifist will not kill the villain.”

[Ace] The Ace – “The Ace is someone who is ridiculously good at what they do, whatever that happens to be, and everyone knows it. People look up to him, envy him, are in awe of him. He has a reputation for doing the impossible, and may be Shrouded in Myth, as people are unable to separate his real accomplishments from unfounded rumors.”

[Cap] The Captain – “Whether they’re the Mission Control or actually working in the field, they’re clearly the one running things.”

[Gun] The Gunslinger – self-explanatory

[Ir] Intrepid Reporter – “an investigative journalist who goes out and finds stories, rather than letting them come to him or her. Sometimes this seems to be the only kind of reporter used in fiction. A character’s actual assignment might be something like “tell the readers who won the dog show,” or “write a puff piece on our best advertiser,” but something about the setup will inevitably spark a full-scale investigation.”

[Ind] Adventurer Archeologist – self-explanatory


[P] Protagonist – self-explanatory

[A] Antagonist – self-explanatory

[Ib] Idiot Ball – “A moment where a character’s stupidity fuels an episode, or a small plot line.”

[wb] Woobie – “that character you want to give a big hug, wrap in a blanket and feed soup to when he or she suffers so very beautifully. Woobification of a character is a curious, audience-driven phenomenon, divorced almost entirely from the character’s canonical morality.”

[Fln] Flanderization – “The act of taking a single (often minor) action or trait of a character within a work and exaggerating it more and more over time until it completely consumes the character.”

[Ccl] Cloud Cuckoolander – “A character with their head in the clouds. They are strangely oblivious to things that everyone else takes for granted.”

[Bda] Badass – self-explanatory

[Ham] Large Ham – “A ridiculously larger-than-life character typically played by a guest star with an Internet Movie Database listing longer than the rest of the cast put together.”

[Bb] Berserk Button – normal character that goes ballistic at a seemingly innocent remark or action

[Rnd] Rounded Character – self-explanatory

[Jhg] Jerk with a Heart of Gold – self-explanatory

[Fla] Flat character – self-explanatory

[Ja] Jerkass – “a character who is so completely obnoxious that it is unbelievable anyone would willingly interact with him; let’s face it, this character is schadenfreude incarnate.”

[Dyn] Dynamic Character – “When a character finishes a story with a different outlook or personality than when they started”

[Sav] Genre Savvy – “A Genre Savvy character doesn’t necessarily know they’re in a story, but they do know of stories like their own and what worked in them and what didn’t.”

[Sta] Static Character – a character that “will end a story with much the same personality and traits they began with.”

[Hft] Heel Face Turn – bad guy turns good

[Fht] Face Heel Turn – good guys turn bad


[Mad] Mad Scientist – self-explanatory

[Wes] The Wesley (Creator’s Pet) – “the creator(s) become so attached to this character that they spend increasing amounts of time focusing on him, magnifying the importance of his role, and having the other characters talk about how awesome he is, in painful ignorance of — or sometimes in spite of — the fans’ hatred.”

[Scl] Star-crossed Lovers – “Two lovers — often teenagers — destined to be kept apart no matter how hard they struggle to be together”

[Sue] Mary Sue – self-explanatory

[Tsu] Tsundere – “can range from the “silent treatment” to “lovestruck kindergartener who pushes you into the sandbox.” The reasons behind a Tsundere’s behavior vary widely. Some are reasonable justifications. Others simply flow from the conflict between their feelings about the object of their affections and their reactions to having them.”

[St] The Storyteller – “a character that is noted for his or her ability to tell tales, or at least their propensity to do so. Sometimes the tales have a purpose in the main plot. At other times it is simply an interesting side excursion, perhaps to give the setting a feeling of depth.”

[Moo] Mooks – “A slang term for the hordes of standard-issue, disposable bad guys whom the hero mows down with impunity. It’s a thankless job, to be sure, especially when in Real Life, but somebody’s gotta do it.”

[Dbd] The Dumbledore (Eccentric Mentor) – “The Eccentric Mentor is an apparent contradiction, a sagacious figure who seems eccentric and possibly even foolish, a font of power and respectability who acts like comic relief. Quite possibly, the Eccentric Mentor is too wise and self-assured to care what anyone else thinks. Then again, maybe they’re just resting on their laurels. Typically the Eccentric Mentor is an older male character, connected to the back story, who acts as a sort of mentor, protector, or guide. They often feign senility and weakness when it is useful to do so, and rarely take pains to avoid such an appearance if it requires effort.”

[Lei] Rebel Leader – “Swinging into action (sometimes literally) with their band of loyal followers, they lead the charge against evil and fight to free the people!”

[Red] Redshirts – “The color of shirt worn by the nameless security personnel on the original Star Trek series. Their only job was to get eaten, shot, stabbed, disrupted, sped up and killed, frozen, desalinated, or turned into a cuboctahedron and crushed. ”

[Mus] Dumb Muscle – self-explanatory

[Mal] Rebellious Spirit – “an individual who has a beef with society. A large one. One large enough to make that person want to break all the rules, just because. Rebellious Spirits go beyond the stereotypical “rebellious teen” and include people who flagrantly violate rules and social norms, act eccentric or weird, and often don’t care what people think about them. They may be Chaotic Good, Chaotic Neutral, or Chaotic Evil, but they are always chaotic.”

[Mug] Muggles – “Ordinary People. Those who are not special, like the favored of the plot. Mundane folk who are only aware of their own small section of reality. The source from which most characters spring.”

[Gia] Gentle Giant – self-explanatory

[Kz] The Klutz – self-explanatory

[Scr] The Scrappy – “a character who has a hatedom. We’ll call this guy The Scrappy. While much usually depends on execution, certain kinds of characters have a much higher probability of being hated.”

[Foo] The Fool – “The Fool has no idea what he’s doing, he has a dim idea at best who his enemies are or whether he’s in danger, and only has his cheerful disposition to protect him.”

[Lrg] Loveable Rogue – “A person who breaks the law, for their own personal profit, but is nice enough and charming enough to allow the audience to root for them, especially if they don’t kill anyone.”

[Erg] Ensemble Darkhorse – “used to describe a side character making up part of the Ensemble, either a non-lead secondary character or a mere Flat Character, who can sometimes become unexpectedly popular with the fandom.”

[Tc] Turncoat – “the guy who switches sides at some point to help out the other side. Can be a hero who turns bad, or a bad guy who suddenly decides to help the good guys, but usually it’s just anyone who thinks that the switch will benefit them personally.”

[Pmd] Person of Mass Destruction – “So you’ve got a force capable of destroying vast amounts of people, land, and possibly the universe, and essentially have the ability to commit a war crime with the wave of a hand. It’s just what any super villain or Omnicidal Maniac could possibly want, and then some. There’s just one catch… It’s contained by the most unstable thing in the universe. A person.”


[Bad] Big Bad – self-explanatory

[Etw] Evil Twin – self-explanatory

[Rch] Archenemy – self-explanatory

[Emp] The Empire – self-explanatory

[Mgb] Magnificent Bastard – “Capturing the audience with his charisma, incredible intellect, mastery of manipulation, and boldness of action, this character is a show-stealer, demanding your reverence at every turn.”

[Ewi] Enemy Within – “the enemy is behind the hero’s eyes, and its time is coming when it can take over. Until then, it’ll do all it can to control him and get him to give in to its Horror Hunger.”

[Dra] The Dragon – “Some Dragons are ferocious fighters who leave the heavy thinking to the boss. Others are smart, detail-oriented administrators who oversee the day-to-day running of the evil organization. Either way, defeating the Big Bad almost always requires the hero to overcome The Dragon first. A common but by no means universal theme is to have The Dragon pose a physical challenge to the hero, while the Big Bad poses a mental or moral challenge.”

[Av] Anti-Villain – “a villain with heroic goals, personality traits, and virtues. Their desired ends are good, but their means of getting there are evil.”

[Mpb] Manipulative Bastard – ‘the master manipulator of emotions and perspectives. This is the villain who gets off on playing head games — clever and dangerous and lacking comedic overtones. He or she always has a plan, but rather than do any work, the Manipulative Bastard prefers to play on other characters’ emotions and then watch the victims destroy themselves as they waste their energy on fighting against fake dangers or their friends.”

[Law] Amoral Attorney – “Although often unethical, this villain isn’t necessarily corrupt. Being lawyers, they don’t necessarily break the law to win, they merely work around and within the law’s limitations.”

[Mol] The Mole – “A bad guy who pretends to be a good guy. The audience assumes they are a good guy until the sudden revelation. If well-done, catches the audience out.”

[Vp] Villain Protagonist – “A Villain Protagonist (especially in a comedy) is quite likely to go down in flames at the end. Whether this counts as a Downer Ending or not is debatable. They may also do a Heel Face Turn and become a Hero Protagonist.”

[Chs] The Chessmaster – “Chessmasters tug at their strings of influence, patiently move their pieces into places that often seem harmless or pointless until the trap is closed, and get innocent Unwitting Pawns (Who else?) to do all the heavy lifting. The best will also have layers upon layers of misdirection and backup plans in case some unexpected hero appears to gum up the works.”

[Ob] Obstructive Bureaucrat – self-explanatory

[Vir] The Virus – “The Virus turns people into itself or into entities subservient to itself. The transformation is both mental and physical. The converted will have unflagging loyalty and be instantly ready to commence villainous actions.”

[4te] For the Evulz – Doing evil for the sake of doing evil, without logical reasons.

[Mon] Complete Monster – self-explanatory

[Ws] Wicked Stepmother – self-explanatory

[Eld] Eldritch Abomination – “Eldritch is not just anything that looks like an ugly mashup of different kinds of Body Horror. What actually defines the Eldritch Abominations (or as we puny Homo sapiens can only define them) is their defiance of natural law, as humans understand it. They are the things that should not be, the ultimate aliens. It is this what makes them abominable, and it is this that horrifies and reduces to gibbering madness all but the strongest of those who encounter them.”

[LOL] Evil Laugh – self-explanatory

[Om] Omnicidal Maniac – “a villain whose main plan and motive is “destroy the world”. He actively seeks the destruction of whatever world the setting is based in, does it as an end unto itself, has the ability to do so, and is both aware of what he’s doing and fully motivated to do so.”

[Bru] The Brute – self-explanatory

[1wa] One Winged Angel – “Classic Big Bads have the tendency, when push comes to shove, to turn into big honking monsters.”

[Fai] You Have Failed Me – “the Big Bad – usually a Diabolical Mastermind – kills one of his henchmen who has failed to capture and/or kill The Hero, as motivation to all of his other (surviving) underlings not to repeat their failure.”

[Kt] Knight Templar – “Usually, the Knight Templar’s primary step (or objective) to his perceived “utopia” is to get rid of that pesky “free will” thing that is the cause of crime and evil. Many Knight Templar types are utterly merciless in dealing with those whom they consider evil, and are prone to consider all crimes to be equal. The lightest offenses are met with Draconian punishments such as full imprisonment, death, brainwashing, or eternal torture.”

[Chi] Creepy CHild – self-explanatory

[Cce] Corrupt Corporate Executive – self-explanatory

[Cat] Right Hand Cat – “Diabolical Masterminds are cat people. If they don’t have a face, they will always have a pet cat, usually some shade of white, sitting on their desk or in their lap, that they stroke as they describe their Evil Plan.”


[T] Trope – self-explanatory

[Ls] Lampshade Hanging – “the writers’ trick of dealing with any element of the story that threatens the audience’s willing suspension of disbelief — whether a very implausible plot development, or a particularly blatant use of a trope — by calling attention to it… and then moving on.”

[Tru] Truth in Television – “Once in a while, a TV show does something that actually happens in Real Life.”

[Jt] Justified Trope – “A justified trope is one in which, in its common usage, runs counter to the normal laws of logic and probability but in a particular instance has a concrete reason for applying to the story.”

[Rur] Reality is Unrealistic – “When exposed to an exaggeration or fabrication about certain real-life occurrences or facts, some people will perceive the fictional account as being more true than any factual account.”

[Sv] Subverted Trope – ” A work makes you think a trope is going to happen, but it doesn’t.”

[Lr] Like Reality Unless Noted – “The general assumption that all of the unstated details of the setting of a work of fiction that remotely resembles Real Life can be filled in by the audience’s knowledge of the world in which they live, except in areas where the fictional world explicitly or by necessary implication deviates from Real Life.”

[Old] Oldest Ones in the Book – tropes that have existed for a long time

[Anp] Anthropic Principle – “For any given story, there exist basic elements that are required for the basic premise to happen; there would be no story otherwise.”

[Roc] Rule of Cool – “all but the most pedantic of viewers will forgive liberties with reality as long as the result is wicked sweet or awesome.”

[Con] Law of Conservation of Detail – “If [a writer] gives a detail, it better be important.”

[Rof] Rule of Funny – “Any violation of continuity, logic or even physics is permissible if the result gets enough of a laugh”

[Lah] Literary Agent Hypothesis – “The work is inspired by real events. The person listed as the author is really just the literary agent for the character who wrote it. For some undisclosed reason, all involved want the truth of the story to be kept a secret.”

[Rod] Rule of Drama – “If the potential for conflict is visible, then it will never be passed over.”

[Md] Moral Dissonance – “Moral Dissonance is the result of having a hero who has a double standard and no one notices.” and no one calls them out on this.

[4wl] The Fourth Wall – characters are aware that they are in a story, and sometimes interact with their readers

[Tbl] Parodic Table of the Elements – see this entry


[Can] Canon – self-explanatory

[Sho] Shout Out – “A shout out is something subtle (a name, line of dialogue, or prop) in a show that refers to fans or family members of the cast or crew, or to another source of inspiration. By nature, these can be obscure for casual fans.”

[Tt] Take That – a potshot at other works

[Res] Did not do the Research – self-explanatory

[Vam] Viewers are Morons – the premise that “not only are viewers stupid, they are also intolerant of people and things unlike themselves, ignorant, and have the attention span of a goldfish.”

[Wob] Writer on Board – “Obvious authorial intrusion. When the characters start behaving like idiots or against their previously established characterization because the writer damn well needs them to in order to tell their story.”

[Xm] Executive Meddling – self-explanatory

[Rad] Getting Crap Past the Radar – “The practice — usually found on but not limited to comedies — of attempting to sneak some manner of profanity or other forbidden material past the network censors.”

[Dh] Development Hell – self-explanatory

[Sbn] Screwed by the Network – self-explanatory


[Fan] Fanon – self-explanatory

[Sus] Willing Suspension of Disbelief – self-explanatory

[Fri] Fridge Logic – “It refers to some illogical or implausible plot point that the audience doesn’t realize during the show, but only long afterwards. This naming is highly subjective, since not every person follows the same train of thought. Some people will never even realise there was a problem, while others will call it a Plot Hole, since they already noticed the problem during the show.”

[Ep] Epileptic Trees – “A term for wild, off-the-wall theories. Named after a leading tinfoil-hat theory explaining the mysterious shaking, rustling trees on Lost during the first season of that program. The theory? The trees are having epileptic fits.”

[Dlp] Draco in Leather Pants – “When a fandom takes a controversial or downright villainous character and downplays his flaws, often turning him into an object of desire in the process. ”

[Mem] Memetic Mutation – “a catchy derivative of some aspect of pop culture, parodied and repeated to the point that its origins and original meaning become muddled and completely mutilated beyond any point of recognition or humor.”

[Wog] Word of God – an author or creator of a work confirms an issue in contention within it to be true or false.

[Mst] MST3K Mantra – “Line from the theme song of Mystery Science Theater 3000, which encourages the viewer to not worry about picayune details that are unnecessary to the enjoyment of the program.”

[Sqi] Squick – “Possibly a contraction of “squeamish” and “Ick!” A negative emotional response, more specifically a disturbed or disgusted one. Things that make the audience throw up often make the characters throw up as well.”

[Fwr] Freud was Right – “The truth is that All Men Are Perverts and All Women Are Lustful, only they are too ashamed of it thus they express it in covert sexual symbolism and repressed desire everywhere, every time, with everybody.”