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Old 05-16-2020, 02:07 PM
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Tired fictional tropes you hate


Now that most of us are watching a lot more movies and TV, and our options for new, quality entertainment are going to get thin pretty soon, I thought it might be good to vent on this.

One of mine is “friend / mentor / trusted confidante who turns out to be in league with the bad guys (or the main bad guy)”.
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Old 05-16-2020, 02:22 PM
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Probably more of a sub-trope, but I've seen it twice in the past couple of days and it annoyed me both times: somebody getting shot/stabbed through the palm of the hand with little to no long-term problems. It is idiotic--the palm is one of the most intricate, dense assembliges of functional elements in the human body and almost any penetrating injury there is likely to cause some degree of crippling for life.
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Old 05-16-2020, 02:29 PM
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Probably more of a sub-trope, but I've seen it twice in the past couple of days and it annoyed me both times: somebody getting shot/stabbed through the palm of the hand with little to no long-term problems. It is idiotic--the palm is one of the most intricate, dense assembliges of functional elements in the human body and almost any penetrating injury there is likely to cause some degree of crippling for life.
Best/Worst example for this trope: Quentin Tarrantino in "From Dusk Till Dawn" being shot through the palm, fixing it with duct tape and going on like nothing had happened.
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Old 05-16-2020, 02:35 PM
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Westerns do this a lot- all you have to do is get the bullet out, and he will be OK.

Sometimes it is best to leave the bullet in, in fact.
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Old 05-16-2020, 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Darren Garrison View Post
Probably more of a sub-trope, but I've seen it twice in the past couple of days and it annoyed me both times: somebody getting shot/stabbed through the palm of the hand with little to no long-term problems. It is idiotic--the palm is one of the most intricate, dense assembliges of functional elements in the human body and almost any penetrating injury there is likely to cause some degree of crippling for life.
Non-fiction: I knew a guy who got a cleaning rod and 7.62 round shot through the palm of his hand. He was in A VERY complicated cast contraption for a very long time.
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Old 05-16-2020, 02:50 PM
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The reluctant hero. Hero’s that have to be begged to take action. No, no, no, no... well OK.

People falling long distances, like several stories or down an elevator shaft, then saving themselves but grabbing a railing or window ledge.
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Old 05-16-2020, 03:06 PM
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Loved ones reuniting with each other (after having been separated) and immediately hugging, kissing, having long heart-to-heart talks, etc. - while gunfire is going on around them, while the zombies/creatures are still chasing them, while the terrorists/bad guys are still in hot pursuit. Get to a place of safety first, then you can talk and hug as much as you want!
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Old 05-16-2020, 03:21 PM
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Sword fights where the participants appear more interested in bringing their swords together in a clash and coming up with witty banter than in actually trying to, you know, kill the other guy. Where the only acceptable outcome is a thrust to the heart or a slash at the main body, as if the idea of a swipe at the leg or, god forbid, a knee to the groin would be out of the question.

Ditto with fist fights fought as boxing matches or according to some kind of strict martial arts rules.
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Old 05-16-2020, 03:40 PM
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The reluctant hero. Hero’s that have to be begged to take action. No, no, no, no... well OK.
A slight corollary to this is the hero who gets the drop on the bad guy after a fight or gun battle, seems about to kill him, but says “no, I’m not going to kill you- I’m not like you”. The hero is then momentarily distracted, most likely by the female love interest giving him a thank-you hug, giving the bad guy a chance to bring out a hidden weapon and try to kill the hero, giving the hero no choice but to kill him after all.
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Old 05-16-2020, 03:49 PM
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People conversing about secret stuff in the middle of a crowd (or in another public space). It gets so bad that when "Glee" had someone actually overhear something mentioned in the hallway and do something about it, it was genuinely surprising.
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Old 05-16-2020, 03:50 PM
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Westerns do this a lot- all you have to do is get the bullet out, and he will be OK.
Only if, upon removal, the bullet goes "clink" in a metal pan.
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Old 05-16-2020, 03:53 PM
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A slight corollary to this is the hero who gets the drop on the bad guy after a fight or gun battle, seems about to kill him, but says “no, I’m not going to kill you- I’m not like you”. .
Then the bad guy says "do it...DO IT!!!"
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Old 05-16-2020, 03:55 PM
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The reluctant hero. Hero’s that have to be begged to take action. No, no, no, no... well OK.

People falling long distances, like several stories or down an elevator shaft, then saving themselves but grabbing a railing or window ledge.
Not the same thing but here is a 15 month old surviving an 11 story fall.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPC2NB7M6aE
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Old 05-16-2020, 03:59 PM
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The hero's journey.
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Old 05-16-2020, 04:02 PM
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This seems like a common one. Some random douche bag in a bar or restaurant picks a fight with the main character, who is usually just minding his own business. Usually to show us the character is a) the sort of loser people randomly beat up for no reason, b) was a loser bit is now a badass (due to years of martial arts training or superpowers) or c) to create tension between the character and his love interest ("OMG I can't believe you did that").

I'm not saying that such fights don't occasionally happen. Particularly in younger bars where lots of meatheads might hang out. But the idea that some investment banker is going to pick a fight with some random dude at Capital Grille or wherever is absurd.



Quote:
Originally Posted by DrDeth View Post
Westerns do this a lot- all you have to do is get the bullet out, and he will be OK.

Sometimes it is best to leave the bullet in, in fact.
Right. Generally trying to dig out the bullet or pull the knife out yourself is about the worst thing you can do.
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Old 05-16-2020, 04:05 PM
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The hero's journey.
Guy meets girl.
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Old 05-16-2020, 04:06 PM
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The hero's journey.
Isn't that less of a trope and more of a story structure?
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Old 05-16-2020, 04:13 PM
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I'm tired of the chosen one. But even then, if the story is good enough I can live with it.
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Old 05-16-2020, 04:16 PM
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Isn't that less of a trope and more of a story structure?
You need to get used to RealityChuck’s delicate sense of humor. God knows the rest of us needed to.

(this is where I would use a little smiley emoji to indicate “jocular teasing” if I were the sort of person who used emojis)
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Old 05-16-2020, 04:31 PM
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Loved ones reuniting with each other (after having been separated) and immediately hugging, kissing, having long heart-to-heart talks, etc. - while gunfire is going on around them, while the zombies/creatures are still chasing them, while the terrorists/bad guys are still in hot pursuit. Get to a place of safety first, then you can talk and hug as much as you want!
You might be able to hear them, too. You won't be able to hear much with gunfire all around you.

Same with people playing in a loud rock band on stage - you cannot have a quiet conversation on stage while playing electric guitars with the drumkit right behind you.

The other trope I don't like is people knocking each other out, especially when played for laughs. I've been watching some old movies, and it really stands out to me, so possibly film-makers aren't doing it as much now.

I watched Curly Sue recently, with my daughter, having very vague memories of it as a kid, and it was dire; the mean boyfriend got knocked out about ten times for fun, but not in a funny way. I'm not sure anything in that move was funny, but having this guy be repeatedly concussed did not work in what turned out to be a fairly serious film (and still dire for a serious film).
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Old 05-16-2020, 06:19 PM
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The hero's journey.
Yeah, Joseph Campbell was such a hack!
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Old 05-16-2020, 06:28 PM
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The other trope I don't like is people knocking each other out, especially when played for laughs....
This is a great one. So many older shows rely on knocking people out as a benign way to take them out of commission for awhile. But the reality is if a person suffers a head injury that renders them unconscious for more than a few seconds they probably have serious brain trauma. Even a few seconds ain’t good.

Last edited by solost; 05-16-2020 at 06:29 PM.
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Old 05-16-2020, 06:32 PM
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The hero and the villain dropping their guns and punching it out "just to see who's the best." Usually preceded by a lot of unfinished fights, close call encounters, and intense staring throughout the story up until that point.

Also, a group of henchmen surround the hero, but instead of just tackling him, they take turns fighting one-on-one (and of course get their asses kicked in order).
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Old 05-16-2020, 06:52 PM
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Loved ones reuniting with each other (after having been separated) and immediately hugging, kissing, having long heart-to-heart talks, etc. - while gunfire is going on around them, while the zombies/creatures are still chasing them, while the terrorists/bad guys are still in hot pursuit. Get to a place of safety first, then you can talk and hug as much as you want!
A place of safety? Haven't you noticed that they are invulnerable during these hugs? All the action sweeps around their untouched bubble. Even when the bad guys are in hot pursuit, they don't make up any ground on those standing in place. Where could they be safer?

Here's one I hate. The hero, after being blasted and bombed and beaten to a pulp shows up the next day with one picturesque tiny band-aid on his face and no aches or pains elsewhere.
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Old 05-16-2020, 07:06 PM
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Child protagonists who are orphans.
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Old 05-16-2020, 07:22 PM
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I've been watching a lot of sci-fi shows lately. In those, one of the things that has been really annoying me is what I call "The absurdly precise deadline trope".

Example - someone gets infected with an unknown disease. The doctor is somehow able to predict that he has exactly 12 hours and 34 minutes to find and administer a cure before the disease is fatal. If he can do so, the cure is completely successful. A few seconds more...
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Old 05-16-2020, 07:31 PM
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"I'm sorry, but we've tried everything and we can't save your daughter. There is no treatment or cure known to medical science."
"What? But I love her! She's only ten! Please try something!"
"By god, you're right! I have to TRY! Hang on- I'll be back in five with some insane innovative technique that will cure her completely. Gosh, good thing you told me all that- too bad for all the other kids who died of this disease and didn't have doctors who ever thought to try something."

Or
"I'm sorry, but this tumor is inoperable. I don't want to touch it."
"Don't tell me that! I came to YOU because YOU'RE THE BEST and I knew if anyone could do it, you could."
"Okay, in that case, let's get you scheduled for a surgery in which I will have to operate upside-down and remove your entire head. Wish me luck!"
"Cool, well I will 100% survive, although I might have some kind of scary symptoms when I wake up, but they'll go away. Thanks!"

Doctors having sordid chats with each other about their sex lives and other drama while they're in the room/elevator with a patient and the patient either says nothing or eventually pipes up with some wisdom or a supportive quip. "Don't wait, honey. Life is too short to let a man like that get away. Plus, he's a hottie."
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Old 05-16-2020, 07:34 PM
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Old 05-16-2020, 08:46 PM
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The perfect girl has some ridiculously specific criteria for romantic partners that the hero must meet to get in her pants.

The puzzle isn't that hard to figure out, but it takes the sidekick making some offhand remark to inspire the hero to figure it out via a long chain of inferences that are frankly much more complicated than just coming straight at the question.

The secondary characters who helped the hero in his conquest are materially worse off as a result, but they're conveniently OK with that because they know they only exist as plot devices.
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Old 05-16-2020, 08:53 PM
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People falling long distances, like several stories or down an elevator shaft, then saving themselves but grabbing a railing or window ledge.
Similarly, superheroes catching falling people in midair. Spider-Man catching Gwen Stacy was one of the only times the real-world outcome was properly depicted.
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Old 05-16-2020, 09:11 PM
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Mixed group runs away from monster. Woman falls down. Man picks her up and carries her, instead of scurrying away faster than ever, expecting monster to slow down to eat her first.

Extra points if woman is in stiletto heels.

This is less likely to happen now than it was during the 1930s-60s.
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Old 05-16-2020, 09:18 PM
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Bad Guy gets the drop on Good Guy. Bad Guy says "Freeze" or some such and attempts to hold Good Guy at gun point rather than just, y'know, shooting him. And often standing withing arm's reach. Thus allowing Good Guy the opportunity to take out Bad Guy.

There are certain situation where it makes sense (security guard stumbling across Good Guy while Good Guy is sneaking into an office). But this trope happens quite often in the middle of a gunfight, when all of the other bad guys are trying to kill Good Guy, and it's only the one bad guy that gets the drop on Good Guy that inexplicably doesn't try to kill him and instead just politely stands by and waits to be taken out by Good Guy.

Especially egregious recent example (spoiler for The Mandalorian):

SPOILER:
In the final episode of Season 1 of The Mandalorian, two Scout Troopers just stand around arguing with IG-11 and threatening to shoot it, instead of just, y'know, shooting it. And then, when one Scout Trooper inexplicably lets IG-11 within arms reach, and IG-11 grabs his arm and just about twists it off, the other Scout Trooper continues to stand there pointing his blaster at IG-11 but not shooting!
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Old 05-16-2020, 09:22 PM
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Mixed group runs away from monster. Woman falls down. Man picks her up and carries her, instead of scurrying away faster than ever, expecting monster to slow down to eat her first.

Extra points if woman is in stiletto heels.

This is less likely to happen now than it was during the 1930s-60s.
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Old 05-16-2020, 09:30 PM
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I've been watching a lot of sci-fi shows lately. In those, one of the things that has been really annoying me is what I call "The absurdly precise deadline trope".

Example - someone gets infected with an unknown disease. The doctor is somehow able to predict that he has exactly 12 hours and 34 minutes to find and administer a cure before the disease is fatal. If he can do so, the cure is completely successful. A few seconds more...
And in that situation, you can be absolutely sure that the cure won't be administered in the first 12 hours and 33 minutes.
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Old 05-16-2020, 09:37 PM
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The beautiful young woman that's maybe 5'3" and might weigh 110 pounds is a kung fu master and her punches can hurl a man twice her size across a room.
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Old 05-16-2020, 09:57 PM
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Child protagonists who are orphans.
Particularly when the orphaned (or at least alone) child protagonist lacks agency, or possess only minimal agency, as in Lion. I know at some point it ends up with an adult character actually turning around and doing something, but I just could not find it in me to care enough to keep watching to that point.
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Old 05-16-2020, 10:40 PM
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Bad guys who get the drop on the hero, and have the hero all but beat. Bad guy then tells his minions to finish hero instead of just killing him himself, or joining the minions in killing the hero.
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Old 05-16-2020, 10:48 PM
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Really nasty bad guys take hostage, make good guys throw away their guns.

(Expendales 2, I am looking at you).

Meanwhile, the bad guys would, in all reality , just shoot them all.
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Old 05-16-2020, 11:02 PM
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People conversing about secret stuff in the middle of a crowd (or in another public space). It gets so bad that when "Glee" had someone actually overhear something mentioned in the hallway and do something about it, it was genuinely surprising.
Likewise, doctors informing the family of a death or a serious illness or injury in the parking lot, or a crowded hallway.
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Old 05-16-2020, 11:02 PM
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Zombies and Vampires. Fuck 'em.
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Old 05-16-2020, 11:07 PM
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A slight corollary to this is the hero who gets the drop on the bad guy after a fight or gun battle, seems about to kill him, but says “no, I’m not going to kill you- I’m not like you”. The hero is then momentarily distracted, most likely by the female love interest giving him a thank-you hug, giving the bad guy a chance to bring out a hidden weapon and try to kill the hero, giving the hero no choice but to kill him after all.
Especially after the hero kills dozens or possibly over a hundred of the bad guys henchmen, then he lets the bad guy go so he can assemble a new team who the hero has to kill all over again.

One trope I don't like (but I understand why it exists in cinema) is the idea that in the future we will have highly advanced spaceships that are controlled by human beings. I don't buy it, by that point the spaceships will be fully automated I'm sure. Putting some fragile meatbag with an IQ of 114 and neurons that fire at 200mph in charge isn't going to make any sense.

Another thing that really bothers me is the trope where the dangerous criminal who is obviously guilty gets off 'on a technicality'. Those technicalities are designed to protect our rights from a tyrannical government.
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Old 05-16-2020, 11:27 PM
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Especially after the hero kills dozens or possibly over a hundred of the bad guys henchmen, then he lets the bad guy go so he can assemble a new team who the hero has to kill all over again.
In the real world people still break morale if enough bad shit happens to their colleagues. When's the last time you saw, in a non-war movie (or even in one of those), the side losing a battle breaking ranks & attempting to run away? [A good war production aversion was Band of Brothers when the Americans were attacked by some German tanks, but it seemed so odd precisely because of how rare it is.]
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Old 05-16-2020, 11:27 PM
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...
One trope I don't like (but I understand why it exists in cinema) is the idea that in the future we will have highly advanced spaceships that are controlled by human beings. I don't buy it, by that point the spaceships will be fully automated I'm sure. Putting some fragile meatbag with an IQ of 114 and neurons that fire at 200mph in charge isn't going to make any sense.....
Well, they will likely have a guy with a IQ of 130 as a back up, just in case.
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Old 05-16-2020, 11:39 PM
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Isn't that less of a trope and more of a story structure?
Perhaps, but I find it tired and trite. I want originality.

I say this admitting my favorite novel uses it for comic effect and also ignores "show don't tell" with long chapters of someone telling the hero a story, and the hero spending the whole time interjecting an occasional comment.

But too often it's a by-the-numbers formula. I dislike formulas.

I'm also bored to death with the trope that resolves things in a fight scene. If you're going to have a confrontation at the climax, left the characters resolve it with brains, not weapons/fists.
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Old 05-16-2020, 11:45 PM
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Five or six bad guys attack Our Hero. Hero takes them one by one while the rest of the bad guys obligingly stand there and watch, apparently.

Also, beloved person dies in a violent way--falling down an elevator shaft, say. Person who loved him screams, "NOOOOOOO!" Cut to 30 minutes later, and Person Who Loved Him has apparently forgotten all about elevator guy. Elevator guy is never mentioned again.
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Old 05-16-2020, 11:50 PM
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A slight corollary to this is the hero who gets the drop on the bad guy after a fight or gun battle, seems about to kill him, but says “no, I’m not going to kill you- I’m not like you”. The hero is then momentarily distracted, most likely by the female love interest giving him a thank-you hug, giving the bad guy a chance to bring out a hidden weapon and try to kill the hero, giving the hero no choice but to kill him after all.
And this usually happens just after the hero has slaughtered all the bad guy's minions to get to him
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Old 05-16-2020, 11:57 PM
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"Secret meetings" in very visible, touristy locations.

Bullets knocking people across the room.

Walk-and-talk scenes.

People ending phone conversations without saying "bye."

People (apparently) not paying for their cabs—they get to their destination and jump out.
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Old 05-16-2020, 11:58 PM
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Red wire or green wire
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Old 05-17-2020, 12:07 AM
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I'm also bored to death with the trope that resolves things in a fight scene. If you're going to have a confrontation at the climax, left the characters resolve it with brains, not weapons/fists.
You probably shouldn't watch the old Route 66 TV series. Tod and Buz probably ended up with permanent neurological damage from all the fistfights they got into.
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Old 05-17-2020, 12:19 AM
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Originally Posted by RickJay View Post
The beautiful young woman that's maybe 5'3" and might weigh 110 pounds is a kung fu master and her punches can hurl a man twice her size across a room.
Bonus points if she's all of 22, staggeringly wealthy, and an acknowledged expert in her field
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