Too Many Overused Movie Tropes Will Bore Your Audience
Have you ever written a screenplay or made a short film you thought was original only to have most people react with a yawn — or not react at all?
This might be because you’ve been implementing too many common movie tropes. Don’t worry – that doesn’t mean you’re a bad screenwriter! It just means that you need to learn how to write better stories.
The problem with overused tropes in movies is that they have a way of sinking deep into our psyche and we start regurgitating them without even realizing it. You see a certain plot or plot point in so many movies that it practically becomes the norm.
Well, if you want to write a great screenplay that is totally original and nothing like anyone has ever seen before, it’s important to know and either improve on or avoid these 15 overused movie tropes.
15 of the Most Overused Movie Tropes
Science experiment gone wrong
There’s an obvious problem in the beginning of the story, the scientist ignores it, and the world pays the price.
Information is withheld because a character is in a coma or their coma sparks family/relationship conflict. The character could just as easily be sent away in a way that is more interesting and unique than simply placing them in a coma.
The bad guys always wear black
Dark clothing to match or accentuate a dark personality. Better character development will eliminate the need to put an evil character in black.
The main character has amnesia
A character wakes up one day to find their memories completely gone. The entire story is based on them fumbling around life looking for answers.
The lovable goof character
This is typically seen in movies or series with a group of friends – there is frequently the goofy/dumb (and sometimes inexplicably attractive) character.
The hero always gets the girl
This doesn’t necessarily have to have anything to do with superheroes. All too often, there is another movie made where a man swoops in, saves, the girl, and they fall in love. Yawn…
Rain at funerals
Funerals are happening every single day, rain or shine. There are other ways to convey emotion besides rain.
Stoner movies with no real plot
The plot is centered around marijuana, dudes getting high on the couch, and the funny things that happen to them because they’re high.
Time loop or groundhog day gimmick
The main character(s) wake up and relive the same day over and over (and over) again.
The grass is greener on the other side
An unhappy or ungrateful character wishes their life to be different only to realize that’s not what they really wanted, after all.
Walking away from a massive explosion
Aside from the fact that you’d go deaf, have massive burns on your body, nobody ever walks away from massive explosions like in the movies. Ever.
The boss is always an asshole
The older, richer, white boss man takes advantage of a young, pretty employee or intern. Or better yet, he or she is just a vile disrespectful person toward the main character. If it’s a cop, he’s got a chief or sergeant who’s always yelling with blood pressure through the roof.
The halo effect
Pretty characters are good, ugly characters are bad.
A retired killer (thief or whatever) does one last job
They’ve been living their life peacefully retired in Key Largo, Florida. Now, they have to save the world!
Glasses = dorky
Once they’re taken off, the character is suddenly revealed to be a beautiful, intelligent, and interesting person.
If you want to know how to write a compelling screenplay or make a great movie, give viewers something that they’ve never seen before – something that they’re not going to expect. You would be surprised at how intelligent the average viewer is.
If you can avoid or improve on most common movie tropes then you could have the next big thing everyone’s talking about.
Always Make Sure The Story Concept Is Strong
All movies start with a basic idea. That idea is then turned into a concept that can sustain a story with conflict between characters. Your concept should always be just as strong an interesting as the story itself because that’s how it will peak people’s interest to want to see it in the first place.
If you’re a screenwriter or someone just getting interested into writing screenplays, then you need to understand how a strong concept can help your overall story.
You’ve probably heard of theme, but do you know how it’s used within movies? Are you able to apply a strong theme to your screenplay if you wanted to? If someone asked you what your story’s theme was — would you be able to quickly explain it?
Do you know what a log line is? How it’s used? When it’s used and what it’s main purpose is? If the answer is no, then you’re doing yourself a disservice if you’re trying to break into the industry.
Download this eBook to strengthen your knowledge of writing stronger story concepts, creating powerful log lines and defining your story’s theme.