TV Tropes

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TV Tropes
Slogan TV Tropes will ruin your life
Commercial? Ad-supported
Type of site Wiki
Registration Optional (anonymous editors must click through a notice screen)
Available language(s) English, German (translation occurring slowly in French, Spanish, Norwegian, Finnish, Swedish, Esperanto, Quenya and more)
Launched 2003 April[1]
Revenue Advertising
Current status Active

TV Tropes is a wiki, built on a PmWiki platform,[2] that collects and expands on various conventions and devices (tropes) found within creative works. Since starting in 2003, the site has gone from covering only television and film tropes to those in a number of other media.[3] The site is known for approaching topics in a comic tone—author Bruce Sterling once described its style as "wry fanfic analysis"[4]—but Professor Robin Hanson characterized it as rather a possibly "great data source for studying fiction's functions."[5]



TV Tropes found its beginning with an initial focus on the television show Buffy The Vampire Slayer,[2] and has since increased its scope to include hundreds of other series, motion pictures, novels, plays, video games, anime, manga, fan fiction, and other subjects. Among its longer standing policies, and possibly contributing to the high number of articles, TV Tropes does not require notability standards behind its entries and examples.[6]

The site includes entries on various series and tropes; the series articles include brief summaries of the work in question along with a list of associated tropes. Trope pages are the inverse, and contain entries on when they appear in series. A notable trait of the site is the development of a unique slang when it comes to the naming (often renaming) of the many tropes on the site. Rather than using names that one might officially use in a professional setting, a preference is given to tongue in cheek references to pop culture; for example, the page on bathos is named "Narm", after the series finale of Six Feet Under, wherein a character suffers a brain embolism and slurs the phrase "numb arm" into "narm". Tropes may also be named after characters, such as "Xanatos Gambit", a plan so intricately crafted that any outcome will still create success; it is named after animated series Gargoyles's character David Xanatos, who specialized in such plans.

While the site's users have a penchant for references, in-jokes, running jokes, and "punny names" in general, there is a certain standard that a title has to meet in order to be considered and implemented, namely, the title has to directly state what the trope is without the reader having to read the article to understand it. Many of the titles that are pop culture references fail this rule, but the vast majority of tropes have extremely appropriate names. There is an undercurrent of natural selection in both creating and naming tropes, as every one of them is subject to comment and criticism both before and after the new trope becomes official. A new trope must attain a certain level of consensus that it is both original and sufficiently ubiquitous in the media before it makes it to the index.

2008 saw considerable redesign in some aspects of content organization, such as the introduction of namespaces, while 2009 saw the arrival of other languages, of which German is the most developed.

"TV Tropes Will Ruin Your Life"

A phenomenon the site itself warns about as "[replacing] surprise almost entirely with recognition",[7] reading TV Tropes has been known to change the way people take in fiction. Due to its focus on and description of media conventions, it becomes difficult for some not to look at a creative work and see those same conventions, thus changing the perceptions of those that use the site.[3] Webcomic author David Morgan-Mar regularly makes references to the website in commentaries to Irregular Webcomic![8][9] and Darths And Droids.[10][11][12][13]


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