Story Memes or Themes You Just Can't Stand

-story memes or themes you absolutely hate -
Two come to mind immediately -

  • Chosen child must save the world - & there is absolutely nothing special about this kid other than the author tells you he or she is special. Harry Potter & a million imitators, I’m thinking of you. Can’t, I don’t know, a grown adult fill this role sometimes? With actual special qualities?
  • life (or human civilization) couldn’t possibly have happend without outside [alien] assistance. Throws almost all of know science out with the bathwater. turned me against 2001, and possibly new Prometheus movie too.

Would someone else like to vent?

Fractured fairy tales.

“Haha… actually Rumpelstiltskin is the hero and the miller’s daughter is the villain! How original am I to do THAT??”

In fairness to 2001, I never got the sense that civilization couldn’t develop absent outside intervention - after all, where did the monolith aliens come from? It just so happens that human civilization in the 2001-verse was kick-started by aliens. Fair 'nuff.

Personally, I can’t stand “heartwarming” stories where bitter, broken atheists learn to believe in magical sky fairies and be happy. The not-really-subtext of such stories - that belief in magic is a prerequisite for happiness and decency - really grates.

Things were kids do amazing things the adults can’t even do. Particularly if its not just one great moment (with it possibly being mostly luck) or a moment where the kid “thinks outside the box” and saves the day somehow but where the kid is just amazing all around the whole time. Makes for a great young kiddy movie. An adult one not so much. My examples would be some of the Star Wars Episodes.

I’m a bit tired of “adults haunted by a childhood memory”, especially when the memory turns out to be something fairly ordinary. Seems that there a lot of these lately.

Fat slob married to gorgeous hottie. The basis of about a million sitcoms.

Voodoo pretty much always works, regardless of how realistic the setting usually is.

Reality shows dealing with rednecks, no matter what they do for a living.

Yes, I know, not exactly a “story” or a “theme”. But I still can’t stand those shows.

Villains who turned evil because of childhood trauma. (Especially when it’s used to imply that anyone who had a childhood trauma is suspect) Irritates me to the point of exasperation. I usually stop reading/watching and dispose of the material if possible.

Parents whose children are threatened. (Especially when they are forced to do something horrible by the threat to the child) Upsets me with anxiety and dismay. I stop watching or reading or skip past this part and continue on afterward.

A single character who every other character is in love with. (Especially when the object-of-affection character is portrayed as the most “ordinary” one) Makes me roll my eyes, but doesn’t usually interfere with my overall enjoyment - I can put up with this, but think it’s bringing down the overall quality of the work every time.

For the ones above, especially the religious themed of the born to be savior and finding religion and creationism ones mentioned by original post and Mr. Excellent, I actually rather enjoy those most of the time.

Having a baby is the only way to make your life happy and fufilled. 1987 was a very bad year for movies with that theme, Three Men and a Baby, Overboard and Baby Boom.

“Fractured” superhero stories, in which the superhero is an incompetent bumbler, or in some other way a parody of traditional superheroes. It’s been done to death.

Bullies who illogically never get their comeuppance for the sake of a continuing go-to plot device.

Similarly, supernatural secrets that no one else ever believes no matter how much evidence they get, making the person holding the secret look like a fool time and time again, for the sake of a continuing plot device.

Stop using the word meme. Especially in this way. “Story meme”? Are you serious?

Dead kid.

“Don’t do it! You’ll be as bad as he is!” - said to heroes who have guns pointed at the villain who has just killed members of the hero’s family, or dozens/hundreds/thousands of innocents, or done something that in any venue with the death penalty, would get fast-tracked to the death penalty, and in any venue without the death penalty, would ignite arguments to bring it back just for this one case.

The hero decides to arrest the villain instead of killing him. Villain immediately takes a wild swing at hero, who ducks, and villain falls over a railing to his death.

:rolleyes: Come on Mulder. We’ve been over this. It’s swamp gas/a genetic mutation/a banal case of town-wide collective hallucination. Nothing to see here, the supernatural doesn’t exist.

My own is historical conspiracy theories, you know, the ones that posit shadowy organizations that organized EVERYTHING, had an instrumental role in EVERY HISTORICAL EVENT and involved EVERY FAMOUS PERSON YOU MIGHT HAVE HEARD OF, you shallow reference pool you. It was amusing in Foucault’s Pendulum because it was intentionally done tongue in cheek, but since that bloody *Da Vinci Code *you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting Leonardo da Vinci the Rosicrucian Illuminati Time Traveller from Majestic 12.
And the Templars are *always *in on it, too. Why ?! Why is it never the Roman mystery cults or the Tibetan lamas wot done it ?

<begins furiously scribbling notes>*

Male lead: She can never know how much I love her.
Female lead: He can never know how much I love him.
They find out.

aka every Mercedes Lackey novel ever written.

Murderous CEOs. Done to death.

I think just about every “meme” can work if it’s done well. That said, the one I find most frustrating is the “ancient prophecy”/“ancient puissant mystical weapon” story. If the Ancients had a puissant mystical weapon, why is the evil menace it’s designed to fight still in the game?"

An example of which came about in the last season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer when she had no luck killing the Preacher dude until they dug up this ancient Barbie battle axe with mystical powers. It’d be a heckuva lot more interesting to watch the heroes do the research and development and come up with their own new and improved mystical battle axe.

(Actually, Buffy sort of did that too – one of my favorite scenes was in season 2 when the Judge looked at the missile launcher and asked, “What does that do?”)