People Share 50 Plot Clichés They Just Can’t Get Enough Of, No Matter How Painfully Often They’re Used Interview With Author
There are two book-and-film-loving wolves inside of us. The first needs an original storyline, good acting, engaging dialogue, and believable, logical worldbuilding. The second one likes cuddling up under a blankie with a tub of ice cream and enjoys cheesy plotlines and story tropes they’ve come to know like close friends. The wolf you feed the most popcorn wins in the end.
Internet personality Laura Crone started up a very interesting thread on Twitter when she asked her followers to share their favorite plot cliches. And the responses were so awesome, we couldn’t wait to share them with you, Pandas.
Scroll down and read the best tweets about which story tropes people enjoy the most, even though they’re far from original, and let us know in the comments what cliches make your heart beat faster.
We’ll let you in on a little secret: we absolutely love it when the protagonist overcomes all the challenges along the way through effort and willpower, learns to embrace their flaws, and saves the day. It’s the Hero’s Journey for us, and we don’t mind how cheesy it sounds. We're also huge fans of characters charging against the forces of evil with the odds stacked against them. It's the struggle against the encroaching darkness that's the real victory. And it's scenes like this that get us through hard times.
Haven’t you heard? The good guys win in the end. And we love that so much, it's unreal.
Image credits: downwithlcc
Image credits: downwithlcc
Laura, who started the viral thread, was kind enough to share her perspective on cliches with us, and gave an insight into what sparked the idea for the Twitter post in the first place. Bored Panda also wanted to get to grips with cheesy tropes a bit better, so we got in touch with Doug Murano, who told us why audiences enjoy structure and shared his thoughts about originality in stories. Doug is a Bram Stoker Award-winning editor, as well as the founder of Bad Hand Books. Read on for both interviews.
"I recently caught up on Stranger Things and I was talking to my mom about it. There was one particular plot point that she didn't like very much because it felt saccharine to her. I totally agreed that it was a little hokey, but I loved it, partly because it was kind of hokey, and there are similar moments in a lot of other stories that I really like for similar reasons," Laura told Bored Panda.
"So I fired off a tweet about it in a more generalized sort of way, and clearly I wasn't alone. Twitter can be an overwhelmingly negative space, so I think being actively prompted to talk about stuff you like can be really refreshing," she said, and we definitely agree.
In Laura's opinion, there's a certain satisfaction that comes with recognizing something familiar in a new setting, as well as being able to predict how things will play out in this fresh context. "That was part of why I liked that moment in Stranger Things so much. I felt like I'd noticed it being foreshadowed since the second season, and seeing that pay off just feels good, like putting the last piece in a jigsaw puzzle," she told us.
"It can make for a more active and engaged audience experience, and it can make you feel kind of smart that you noticed it and figured it out," Laura noted that cliches can give the audience a certain amount of satisfaction as we're able to puzzle the narrative out based on clues.
In Laura's opinion, the word 'original' is "pretty slippery" when we're thinking in terms of stories. "I think in the context of fiction, and especially pop criticism of fiction, it tends to get used in a way that suggests that basically any use of a familiar cliché or trope is inherently not original, and I think that totally overlooks that using those story elements in fresh or innovative ways is a really meaningful kind of originality," she said.
"Some amount of originality is what makes a story feel unique, but some amount of familiarity is what makes it feel like a story. I think you need both," Laura said.
"I think audiences enjoy cliches and tropes because human beings crave structure. We like to be surprised in small doses, comforted in large ones. Most of us don't like to be challenged when we're simply out to have a good time," Doug shared with Bored Panda.
"A plot structure dependent on tropes helps to set an audience's expectations inside something familiar and provides the equivalent of comfort food. Taking it a step further, when cliches and tropes are wielded deliberately and with some skill—I'm thinking about the Marvel cinematic universe in particular—they can achieve the power of ritual, which is something else human beings crave."
According to Doug, the founder of Bad Hand Books, there are no new stories. It's all been done before!
"It's the perspectives that matter," he said. "In other words, there are only so many plots, but an infinite number of perspectives."
Editor Doug said that creators ought to lean into that. "Don't worry if your story beats seem familiar. Tell that story from the perspective and worldview only you can provide. That's why encouraging diversity in the arts is so vital—we need fresh perspectives to renew old stories."
Laura’s post resonated with a lot of Twitter users. At the time of writing, her thread had 38.1k likes. But what stole the show was with how much enthusiasm people gushed about all the plot cliches they’ve grown to know and love.
We might know a twist is coming. We might know how cringe a certain trope is. However, they make us happy. And that, dear Pandas, is all that really matters at the end of the day. If you’ve got a huge smile on your face, if you feel grateful for the existence of entertainment on Planet Earth—whether in book or film form—we call that a huge win.
Besides, originality can be quite overrated. There’s nothing new under the sun. And while we might combine various tropes into unique combinations, what really matters is telling a good story.
You can tell an amazing story using cliche after cliche. So long as the characters are three-dimensional, the writing shines, and the story beats set a good rhythm, it doesn’t really matter if you suspect where the story’s going.
At the same time, just because (you think) you’ve created a completely original plot doesn’t automatically make it worth the audience’s time. The way you present the story, how you edit it, what you focus on can make or break everything. Originality means nothing if you don’t have the skills to make the story come to life. Is it a diamond in the rough or just a lump of coal?
Not everyone’s a fan of cliches, though. Or well, at least not certain ones. For instance, characters acting illogically all the time upsets quite a few cinephiles. Previously, Bored Panda spoke about cliches in movies with redditor RedstonekPL, who noticed that in a lot of movies, the main characters do a heck of a lot of dumb things.
“When that happens, I think to myself, ‘Man, if only they were a little bit smarter this would be a lot shorter,’” he said.
“In my opinion, there are 3 types of foolish characters. Some characters are foolish because without them the movie wouldn't exist. Some characters' foolishness is a part of their personality. And some characters sometimes do stupid things once or twice to make the viewer laugh,” the redditor shared their opinion with Bored Panda.
“There are some movies where not being dumb wouldn't be boring, but there are some films, where one or two foolish actions are required to even start it. A good example for the former is a stereotypical horror film where some characters enter some kind of an abandoned house and then read out loud some kind of ancient curse or whatever from a book with a note saying, ‘Do not open,’ and then get attacked.”
Another example of this would be horror movie protagonists being warned not to enter a haunted house, yet they do it anyway. Though if they didn’t act dumb, there would be no movie.
“To be honest, I'm a person who would rather watch a TV series rather than a movie. When I do watch one, it's a comedy, so being stupid is basically required. I just want to tell everyone, that y'all should watch anything you want, don't let anyone insult you for what you watch,” the redditor pointed out that we shouldn’t be ashamed of the movies we like, no matter how cliched or ‘dumb’ the characters are.
Meanwhile, aspiring filmmaker, redditor Thats_What_Sh3_Sa1d, told Bored Panda earlier that it’s the dialogue and the movie effects that determine whether a movie project will be successful or not.
“The line between a good and a bad movie depends on dialogue, whether or not the lines that characters say to each other makes sense or contributes something to the film, whether or not the CGI or maybe the VFX looks good or not because that really makes an impact on a movies likeability, at least for me," they said.
"And of course if it has a good backstory, if it's really going to catch your attention, that also plays a part in a movies likeability.”
According to the aspiring filmmaker, some filmmakers make the same mistakes over and over again because they haven’t yet developed a sense of good taste.
"The people making the movie either don't know what makes a good movie, or they think that a bad movie is a good one. Now again, I'm not saying that I'm a movie critic and I know everything there is to know about film, but I, and most people I think, know a bad film when they see one, and maybe some people don't. And in my opinion, for the situation to be able to change, the people making the movie should be informed as to what makes a good film rather than what makes a bad film," they told us.