Top Ten Thursday: Overused Plots

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Have you ever read a story or watched a movie/show and thought the plot seemed familiar in some way? It should be a common occurrence, since most ideas nowadays are just a spin on something that has already been done. But sometimes that plot has been redone so many times that it’s just lazy writing or catering for the masses at this point. I’m likely guilty of that as well, after all most of our ideas are born from the work of other people, but we could definitely do a better job when it comes to originality. Although, quite a few authors have managed to work cliches into their work without an issue. Can you think of a few overused plots on top of your head? Here are my top ten!

10. Switching Twins

It may not be as common as I believe it to be, but whenever I’m reading/watching twins my gut tells me they’ll be changing places. Not only that, but during crucial scenes where the identity is important, they’re bound to have switched places. Whether they end up kissing or killing them, they do that on the wrong twin. Insert collective gasping here because no one saw that coming.

9. The Prophecy

A not-so-vague prophecy which provides a detailed summary of all the events about to go down in the near feature, automatically spoiling the reader/watcher of what’s coming. It takes away from the incentive to read the book/watch the movie, though you may still wonder if it’ll turn out correct and continue reading/watching. But if you do so, and it turns out correct, there’s also a slight feeling of disappointment, unless the story was overall appealing, as to why you went through the whole thing when you could have just read/watched the prophecy.

8. The Wild One Tamed

People change, we all grow and evolve over time. But it’s shocking how many fiction characters change completely overnight or just over a short period of time. The dumb jock becomes the smart savior of the world, the flirtatious person turns into a saint, the naive virgin is now a bad-ass, and the reader/watcher is still who they are except they’re likely cringing at this part.

7. The Orphan

This goes especially for prologues, if there’s a story about a baby being abandoned you know right then and there that is going to grow up into one special human being. This is so apparent that if after said prologue it doesn’t turn out that way I’d blackout for a few days due to the massive shock. In my humble opinion this is even worse than the prophecy plot, as there you’re deliberately giving away your story while here you’re unintentionally spoiling it from the very beginning. Not at all entertaining if I’ve read it before already and if I know what’s coming, that takes away both the surprise and the freshness from the story.

6. Fake Death

The character dies and then surprise, surprise, they actually don’t. The ground in fiction isn’t very receptive of bodies, apparently. I tend to blame this one on Tolkien for bringing back Gandalf and even stronger than before, but there are older stories with that plot. It seems death is very rarely final or crippling, it’s more often reviving the protagonist or portrayed as rebirth of the character. Which isn’t bad, but haven’t we had enough of that already?

5. Ugly Duckling

This doesn’t refer solely to the romantic part of stories, but it’s definitely more prominent there. The character who was appalling and/or least desirable to everyone at the beginning of the story, eventually becomes the most appealing one. While its’s a great story on its own, this is used so frequently now I believe at least every third movie includes that plot. They don’t have to be appealing to everyone, no one is loved by all, but they don’t have to be so hated in the first place as well.

4. Funny Sidekick

Since the protagonist is so busy trying to impress everyone with their skill, they’ve lost all sense of humor and it’s up the sidekick to bring the jokes to the table. Not to mention the sidekick is literally useless and serves no other purpose but to provide sarcastic and witty remarks. Humor’s great, sarcasm’s even better, but the source needs to be any character as opposed to a single character with no other purpose.

3. A One-man Job

This has quite a few versions, from not accepting anyone’s help because they feel it’s their mission, or a specific character has to return to and old position because everyone feels only they can do the job. Heck, whole cities or nations would depend on a single person — are thousands of people so incompetent opposed to that single person? Were the other characters there just to applaud whenever the protagonist does something cool? Or were they meant to look dumb so the protagonist can look smart? Might as well use a laugh-track instead of supporting and minor characters if that’s the case.

2. Pure-Evil Enemy

Who is the protagonist and why are they so bent over to spread the seeds of chaos? We’re human being,s we all have a story and we all have our reasons for doing what we do, whether it’s good or bad (sometimes we just don’t realize when something is bad). The protagonist needs that to, they can’t just be born evil. No one’s born with the will to destroy the world, though they can get that will due to events in their life.

1. Love Triangle

Yep, that takes the first spot. Is this fun for anyone at this point? You have whole franchises where the world depends on the work of a few people, yet the focus goes to the girl’s inability to choose between her two suitors. They’re doing everything (read: fictitious exaggerations of love) to win her over but it’s too hard for her to pick one because they’re both so ridiculously good looking, highly intelligent, extremely courageous and kind and… Yeah, I need to rest my eyes now because they’ve been rolling for a while. It’s too much and it’s been done too many times, simple as that.

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2 comments

  1. The high fantasy party trope comes to mind, though I find this more of a problem with older books than more recent ones. That said, I do appreciate the authors whove managed to take the cliches and turn them into stories of awesomeness.

    (Also, if you ever have the time, read the Graceling series. I guarantee you will find a character so purely evil–from beginning to end–but that fits so well into the scheme of things it doesn’t matter if he has no redeeming quality.

    Like

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