101 Tropes 31-60

Here are some more tropes and concepts that I like. Previously posted on LJ 03-14-10 and 04-13-10 My previous post is here


31. Practically Perfect in Every Way–This character is the Jeeves to Bertie Wooster, the Alfred to Bruce Wayne, and possibly also Sebastian Michaelis from Kuroshitsuji. She is Mary Poppins or Fiore from Chrono Crusade…and also Polgara from the Belgariad/Mallorean. A classic adventure novel version is the mother in Swiss Family Robinson who has apparently has everything you could ever want or need if you were ship wrecked in her luggage.

32. Speaking of Swiss Family Robinson–I really like the minutia of daily living, and the descriptions of what characters do in situations where survival is a factor. (Menolly and Piemur in the Harper Hall trilogy for instance, are good examples of this.) I like the world building and the description of the steps taken in order to survive comfortably in an environment with few resources.


33. The Cowardly Lion. Who is not actually cowardly, even if he says he is. There aren’t many characters who fit this trope that I can put a name to (aside from the Cowardly Lion himself). The one character who does come to mind is fairly obscure–Phyllis Einstein’s Alaric, who is a minstrel with a very powerful teleportation ability–and a desperate (and quite sensible) fear of being burnt at the stake as a witch.

34. The Monster Isn’t One. I’m generally interested in a story line where the horrible creature is revealed to be not very horrible at all–when it can be done without a “After School Special” tone. (Sadly, it usually has that preachy tone to it.) The most recent example I can think of are the dragons in How to Train Your Dragon. Where it’s revealed that the dragons are actually very large, scaly cats.

35. Mutation Blues–definitely related to The Monster Isn’t One. In this case, we have a character with a Dark Lineage, or one who is some variety of mutant. They might be In Serious Trouble because of their abilities or appearance, but they are otherwise Good People. Examples of this would be Kerovan from Andre Norton’s Witch World novels and also (possibly) Raven from Teen Titans.

36. Animal Companions that are not Furry People. For this, I can only blame Andre Norton, because so many of her characters get animal friends/companions. (She was generally good about having them act like real animals instead of like humans, too.) Even if this trope/kink is generally overplayed and cliche, I still like it a lot. A modern example are the nighthorses from Cherryh’s Rider at the Gate (which are the orneriest critters you’re ever likely to meet.)

37. Carnivorous Horses! I don’t know why, but keplians are cool. All fantasy novels should have big meat eating equids with sharp pointy teeth and claws. No, really–it would be AWESOME. Some examples of the Carnivorous Horse are the Hulgrin from the Belgariad, the nighthorses from Rider at the Gate, the keplians from the Witch World novels and the keplians from Diane Duanes Tale of the Five. Last but not least are the alicorns from the Norton/Lackey elf books and the rathorns from the Kencyr novels. (The last two are actually carnivorous Unicorns, but still. AWESOME.)

38. Not the War Machine You’re Looking For…This is a very rare character type in my experience. This is the character who has Vast Powers of Destruction (or who might be Secretly a King) who chooses to exercise his/her/it’s power in a nonstandard way. It might be the extremely powerful sentient battle bot who is “retired” from the destroying worlds business (this was a character in a Zelazny book I think.) it might be Captain Carrot who is actually a long lost King…who prefers to be a cop, thank you. Another example of this is Tristan from Fortress in the Eye of Time who is actually a powerful being who decided that he’d rather be “Tristan,” than a warrior King.

39. The Reality/Morality anchor. This is a character whose basic function (assigned or self determined) who has the job of making sure a character doesn’t go off the deep end. Or the character who has to show an otherwise innocent character how the world works. Examples of this character are Marcarn from the Kencyr novels (who is Jame’s friend and mentor, and the sounding board that occasionally straightens her out before she does something Stupid) and Uwen from the Fortress novels who has the task of taking care of Tristan and Explaining the Way the World Works to Tristan (who is very very innocent at first.)

40. I Never Said I Was a Demon…This is another fairly rare character. His major thing is that while he is lying by omission about some aspect of his nature. My primary example of this is Black, the ‘demon’ from Dilvish the Damned by Zelazny. More often than not, this is played for humor, and I like it mostly for the double takes as the protagonist realizes he’s been tricked, and the rules that he thought were in place have been removed.

41. Romance where the girl is “the smart one.” The guy is not lacking in intelligence, he’s just ignorant–and often dubious at the information provided by the girl–until she’s proven to be right. (Ariel the sorceress in Thundarr the Barbarian is an example of this. So is Krysty Wroth from the Deathlands books. At a stretch you could probably include Kagome as well.)

42. Ruthless behavior as a virtue. The good guy is fully capable of doing something ruthless, something that would be considered “evil” in a more balanced situation. He or she can feel guilt about it later, but at that point in time it’s the solution they go with. (Another variant might be “ruthless” mercy, where the action is beneficial in the long run, or comparable to setting a broken bone–painful, but otherwise a good thing.)

43. Stories with interesting political maneuvering (I tend to like them more in science fiction and fantasy settings than in more real life ones for some reason though.)

44. Stories that take you on a in-depth journey into a another place, time, and culture. Travelogues are fun, and if they can be combined into an adventure or mystery, that’s good too.

45. Complex group relationships/romances either implied or intentional. Group/polyamorous relationships are very interesting to me–the traditional romantic triangle of woman/romantic interest/rival does nothing for me. (I am still pissed off that Beth/Korey/Eric from Knight of Ghosts and Shadows fizzled. I’m also pissed off at what happened to Beth’s character.)

46. Marriage as the beginning of the story, not the “to be avoided at all cost,” ending of the story. While I dislike a lot of Stasheff’s attitudes about women, I did like that his characters in his Warlock series paired up and stayed together as partners. I am also just wild about a lot of Eric Flint’s romantic pairings. (Playing “whose going to get paired up with who” is entertaining.)

47. Coming of Age/Growing up stories. It does not necessarily have to feature a teen aged or younger character. I also consider Paladin of Souls to be a growing up/coming of age story.

48. Adventure stories featuring older characters in roles other than “wise adviser” or “obstacle standing in the way of the Younger Generation.” I don’t think there are enough of them. Bonus points if the older character is the main character.

49. Sneaky is sexy. Not only is the character competent and good at what he or she does, she is also sneaky as hell and manipulative–and these are held to be good (if occasionally annoying) traits that make him or her a good partner. (Whether romantic or “business.”)

50. I may be an odd duck in some of the fandoms I participate in or observe. I am not overly squicked by “older/younger” person romances, even when there’s a definite note of “he practically raised her, and she decided from an early age that she was going to marry him when she grew up?” I’d like to see how this would play if it was an older woman/younger male character situation though.

51. Loving descriptions of food, either eating or preparing it. For this I blame Steven Brust and his character Vlad Taltos. Vlad is a character who deeply appreciates good food and drink and will wax eloquent on the subject at the least excuse. In general, I love it when writers talk about the kind of food the characters eat, because food can tell you a lot about the setting. (It should tell you something that my favorite television programs are Travel and Food shows.)

52. Detailed world building. I love glossaries and quotations that hint at a wider story-universe. I love in story descriptions that bring in “ancient mythology and legends” into the description. I am not a fan of “info dumping,” but I do like the occasional footnote, or a narrative that gives us a hint of the culture and history of the world in the story. I also love appendices full of information. (Um. I like the appendices in LOTR more than I like the actual story.)

53. Characters who are the product of their culture or religion…and this is not seen as a bad thing, even if the origin culture is the “bad guy.” (StarGate failed at this a lot. A LOT.) An example would be Iroh–Fire Nation, but basically a good person who realized that the war was a very bad idea. Other examples would be the Fire Nation members of the White Lotus, and even Zuko, whose entire story arc is all about him realizing that the war needed to end, and that he should help the Avatar.

54. In story religions that are not grinding anyone’s axes in particular. Likewise, if they sound like they came from a Dungeons and Dragons supplement or are basically Roman Catholic Without the Rome or the Catholic I’m going to be rolling my eyes at you. Again, the religion should seem like part of the culture, and not something tacked on to provide scenery. (Which is very much the case in a lot of the fantasy and science fiction novels I’ve read.)

55. Magical systems that actually make sense. I don’t particularly like the “it doesn’t have to make sense, it’s impossible anyway!” reasoning very much. I also don’t like “The author pulled the explanation about how that worked out of his ass,” approach. ( Cough David Eddings cough.) It should all make sense, and it should always be consistent. Diane Duane’s approach to magic is interesting, especially when she describes the words of a magic language in terms you’d usually use to describe living creatures. (In one case, a word which occasionally had issues with another word and promptly attacked it while the spell was being constructed.)

56. “Ethnic” characters who are not stereotypes, “charming” or otherwise. This is slightly variable for me. If the stereotype is more or less tongue in cheek or even subverted, it’s not as annoying. A related peeve that I would like to see less of is “Comedy!” fill in the blank. There are a few characters (especially in manga and anime) I’d like a heck of a lot more if they weren’t obnoxious over the top stereotypes.

57. “Medieval” societies that actually seem like something that would evolve from a world that had magic. Better yet, societies that are clearly NOT based off of “Medieval European.” (Jo Clayton was pretty good at this, the end result cultures she created tended to have a very Asian/Indian base, or would go off in some unanticipated sideways direction.)

58. Pacifists who are not cowards or “ivory tower” types. Very few writers seem able to handle pacifist characters. If the writer is pro-pacifism, pacifism is of course understood to be The Only Way To End Conflict. If a writer is anti-pacifism, you have uninvolved ivory tower types or cowards. There has to be a non-annoying middle ground here.

59. Non-standard gender norms. I am not talking about female dominated societies. I am talking about societies with entirely different gender norms, with understandable culture shock from someone from a different culture. Oh, and what would be extra special? NEITHER SYSTEM IS UNDERSTOOD TO BE SUPERIOR. The characters can think it, but the author doesn’t, in other words.

60. More ruling queens in your pseudo medieval fantasy please. Dowager queens, only heir queens, etc. More ruling nobles who are female in general. (There have been female pirates, okay. And there have been ruling queens. Your several thousand year old kingdoms with no ruling women are disturbing. I think Raymond Feist defended the lack of ruling females as “medieval societies are not feminist/egalitarian,” which okay, but still. EMPRESS THEODORA DAMMIT.)

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