Three of My Favorite Tropes

What exactly is a "trope", you ask? Well, as Wikipedia puts it:
A literary trope is the use of figurative language – via word, phrase, or even an image – for artistic effect such as using a figure of speech. The word trope has also come to be used for describing commonly recurring literary and rhetorical devices, motifs or clichés in creative works. (Source)
So, what are some common tropes? The TVTropes wiki offers up this page of their most commonly referenced tropes, including everything from the ubiquitous "Big Bad" and "The Hero" to things like "Interspecies Romance" and "So Bad, It's Good". Here, then, are three of my favorite tropes.

Downer Ending or Bittersweet Ending

I imagine someone's brain just did a record screech reading that because, c'mon, who likes a downer ending? But I do! Well, I like a well done ending that's tragic or bittersweet; if a novel or series has been chugging along with no sign that a less-than-happy ending is imminent, I'm going to be seriously pissed if the author rolls one out at the last minute.

On the other hand, a well-written downer ending with sufficient foreshadowing for me to suspect that the ending is going to be either tragic or bittersweet is actually pretty appealing to me. For example, while most of my twelfth grade class despised the entirety of Tess of the D'Urbervilles, I quite enjoyed the tragedy and its downer ending. Other examples of downer endings I enjoyed would include movies like Pan's LabyrinthThe Crazies, Donnie Darko, the Final Destination series, The Mist, The Thing; books and short stories like A Series of Unfortunate Events, All Summer in a Day, Harrison Bergeron, The Great Gatsby; and shows like Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, How I Met Your Mother's "Bad News" episode, Scrubs episodes "My Lunch" and "My Screw Up", Supernatural's "Swan Song" (originally intended to be the show's finale), The Legend of Korra's "Venom of the Red Lotus", and American Horror Story: Murder House.

Foe Yay

It's no secret that fans have a tendency to ship any characters that have even the slightest bit of subtext or chemistry... and even those that don't. I myself have a particular fondness for Foe Yay Shipping, and honestly, I don't really know why. I suppose part of it is that these ships are often particularly amusing to think about, especially when there's actual subtext present, and when they cross over into No Yay, it's all the funnier. (Harry/Voldemort, anyone?)

Honestly, this one probably goes hand-in-hand with my enjoyment of Downer Endings; that's what you tend to get, after all, when you put two mortal enemies in anything resembling a romantic relationship.

Before I mention any ships I'm partial to, I was to put a slight disclaimer here. When a lot of people ship, they mean they genuinely want those characters to be together. When I ship, it's just because I'm amused by the thought of the characters in question being together. I'm not actively advocating that any of the following pairings should have been made canon (though at least one was) or even that they make sense, really.

So... Foe Yay ships I'm partial to would include Bond/Silva (Skyfall), Sylar/Claire (Heroes), Buffy/Spike and Buffy/Angelus (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Sam/Lucifer (Supernatural), Batman/Joker (The Dark Knight), Echo/Alpha (Dollhouse), and Alanna/Roger (Song of the Lioness).

Unfortunately, children's literature--easily my most frequently read genre--isn't really conducive to any kind of shipping. Because ew my god.

Threesome Subtext

In the same vein, I'm a fan of turning any potential love triangle (and plenty of other ships, really) into a new OT3. Favorites include Rory/Amy/Eleven and Jack/Nine/Rose in Doctor Who; Angelus/Drusilla/Spike and Angel/Buffy/Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Jack/Elizabeth/Will in Pirates of the Caribbean, Eska/Bolin/Desna in The Legend of Korra, Ginny/Neville/Luna in Harry Potter, among others.

So, what tropes do you enjoy? And what are your thoughts on downer or bittersweet endings, foe romance subtext, and threesome subtext? Let me know in the comments below!

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