Movie tropes usually work, drawing audiences in and keeping them hooked. However, film fans think it’s time to ease up on some of the outdated, predictable, and frustrating tropes. Here are 24 overdone tropes that most movie fans say need to go.
1. It Was All a Dream…
Viewers tend to feel robbed at the end of a movie when it’s revealed that the entire story was just the main character’s dream. There are endless examples, such as The Wizard of Oz, so Hollywood has been doing this to audiences for decades. This is an official call to stop the stupid dream endings!
I’m not saying flashbacks can’t be compelling and useful. Still, when movies flashback every other scene or most of the movie occurs within a flashback, it can feel convoluted and messy. Along with many internet cinephiles, I am completely happy with a story told chronologically; it’s not boring or normal.
3. Second-Act Breakups
I don’t have issues with second-act breakups, but I understand how it can get tiring. By breakup, I mean a falling out of sorts between two main characters, not necessarily a romantic couple. Hollywood uses this plot point to drive the story forward, but it can feel predictable.
4. Jump Scares
What would the horror genre even be without jump scares? Maybe better? I hate jump scares, not because they’re bad or tacky, but because they get me every single time! I think this qualm is more common among hardcore horror fans who see this stuff coming from a mile away. But I guess I’m still a scaredy cat in this regard.
5. Pop Culture References
Some people despise it when movies have a super timely pop culture reference that immediately dates the movie. For example, someone in the film mentions Donald Trump as president. It prevents movies from feeling timeless. But on the other side, it engages the current audience more when the movie is first released.
I think voiceovers can be done extremely well, adding depth and perspective to the film. However, poor narrations can feel a little condescending and even boring, especially if the narrator is over-explaining characters or the story. This falls under the “show, don’t tell” rule of writing.
7. Silly Miscommunications
Many movie plots rely on an easily avoidable miscommunication between characters, forcing viewers to shout at their TVs for everyone to just communicate. Of course, if they did communicate, there would be no movie. It’s hard to suspend your disbelief when the miscommunications are so absurd.
8. Stupid Horror Movie Characters
It’s no secret that audiences typically hate the girl in her underwear who ventures into the creepy basement by herself instead of just calling the cops or grabbing a knife. Similar to the miscommunication Hollywood trope, this one can be frustrating for audiences who want more believable and realistic characters.
9. Love at First Sight
I am the president of the Stop Love at First Sight Club. It makes no sense! I love a good rom-com, but if the romantic interests see each for a split second and are immediately ready to throw away their lives for one another, it feels lazy and dumb. Romantic movies are best when the relationship builds, and viewers can feel the tension grow.
10. The Glasses and Ponytail Reveal
We could also refer to this as the makeover trope because it’s usually followed up with a makeover montage. Girls can be beautiful with their glasses on and hair in a ponytail, and it’s strange that Hollywood thinks letting your hair down and taking off the spectacles transforms women completely.
11. Mean Step-Parents
Vilifying step-parents is played out at this point, and it’s time to stop. I understand that some tropes are fun and familiar for audiences, but this one gives stepparents, who can often be loving and caring, a bad name. It may not seem like a big deal, but this trope has definitely created a stigma around stepparents.
12. Heroes Pulled From Retirement
Why can’t heroes ever be called to action when they’re ready to go? They’re never asked to go on a mission when they’re sharpening their swords or reloading their guns; it’s always when they’re on vacation with their family or trying to get into pottery. I say, leave the retired heroes alone and go find some fresh meat to send into battle.
13. Close-Range Explosion Survivors
Everyone needs to know that if you are within a few hundred feet of a drastic explosion, you are going to feel it and possibly be injured or worse. One of my favorite acknowledgments of this unrealistic trope is in The Other Guys when they get knocked over by a blast and start yelling that it’s way different than what they see in the movies.
14. Down-to-the-Minute Bomb Defusings
It’ll still be intense if they defuse a bomb with five or ten seconds to go! A bomb is a bomb, people; it’s always going to be intense. I think I’ve seen a few minutes where they defuse the bomb with a couple of seconds to go, and honestly, it’s refreshing but still exciting.
15. Mediocre Men With Supermodel Wives
I’m calling you out, Adam Sandler! Seeing these super average, or even below average (sorry), men with these unbelievably stunning, beautiful, gorgeous women is exhausting. I’m not saying this can’t happen in real life, but why can’t the guy be a hottie and the lady be average for once?
16. The Chosen One
Harry Potter, The Matrix, Percy Jackson, and more movies heavily rely on the chosen one trope, which is all about fate and destiny. It’s a somewhat lazy explanation for why the leading character is the only one in the entire world who could conceivably get the job done.
17. Villain Monologues
Okay, I actually love this trope and never want it to go away, but other movie fans feel differently. After all, why would a villain take the time to lay out their plan to the hero and risk the hero foiling it? It can also come off as talking down to the audience, but I think it’s funny these bad guys just can’t contain themselves!
18. Rude Phone Hang Ups
This one is huge for my boyfriend, as he simply cannot fathom how they don’t write goodbyes into phone conversations. Many online cinephiles agree with his sentiment, as it’s not only rude to hang up without a goodbye, but it’s also highly unrealistic and weird.
19. Hackers and Enhancing Images
We’ve all seen at least one movie where everyone is crowded around a computer and commanding the computer guy to zoom in, enhance, and enhance again. I’m lumping this trope in with hackers who say things like, “I don’t know if I can get in; it won’t be easy,” then furiously type for seven seconds before declaring, “I’m in.” This is not how computers work!
20. Manic Pixie Dream Girls
I mostly blame the 90s for the manic pixie dream girl trope. It was cute and quirky at first, but now it’s exhausted and cheesy. Plus, these manic pixie girls tend to rag on other girls and act like they’re special or better because they read Sylvia Plath and sew buttons on their T-shirts. Most of these characters are also written by men, showing a lack of understanding of women.
21. Virgin Final Girls
Final girls can be virgins, but they can also not be. Why can’t the frisky girl ever be the one to make it to the end? Once upon a time, the audience only wanted to root for the “pure” girl, but I like to think those times are over, so Hollywood should start choosing more interesting, unique, and maybe promiscuous final girls in horror flicks.
22. Gratuitous Adult Scenes
Sometimes, intimate adult scenes are necessary to drive the plot forward and give insight into the characters. But some movies just overdo it on the frisky scenes, making the movie feel cheap and raunchy. All the online movie community asks is for these scenes to be tasteful and relevant.
23. White Saviors
Movies like The Help can be offensive and condescending, implying that the white character is doing some heroic act by not treating the black characters poorly. It sends the wrong message and is completely patronizing, so this is one trope that should be kicked to the curb and flushed down the gutter.
24. Knights in Shining Armor
Similar to the white savior trope, movies where the man saves the woman and is the only one who can possibly free her from her shackles are tiresome. The first movie that comes to mind is Pretty Woman. Vivian was such a strong and feisty lady, but in the end, she gets saved from her life by the guy when it’d be wonderful to see her save herself and control her own life.