There is…this website.
When it is linked to in message board threads, cries of “NOOOO!” can be read for posts and posts thereafter. People speak of it in hushed tones and warn people away from clicking links to it. I once sent a link to a single page on this site in an email, and my warning went unheeded, and the person I sent it to lost some four or five hours of his life.
He didn’t listen, but I am warning you now that I am about to link to this very site. Do not click any of these links unless you find yourself with time to spare.
The website in question is the mighty TvTropes.org, a wiki which seeks to categorize, refine, and provide many, many examples of common tropes and tricks used in narrative media (not just television – the site’s name is something of a misnomer at this point.) It is devilishly entertaining to read, and the entries have a certain quality to them of popcorn, or potato chips: you read just one more, and just one more, and just one more, and before you know it hours have passed. You’ve been having a great time, but now the bank is closed.
For those feeling brave enough to explore – and for heaven’s sake do not click unless you have time! – here are a selection of portions of the wiki I have recently enjoyed:
- Standard Snippet – You might not know it yet, but you know these songs.
- Did Not Do The Research – A common problem in all fictional forms, here with many iterations on the theme.
- Characterization Tropes – Pretty much every trick you have ever seen done with a character’s development will be here.
- No, Mr Bond, I Expect You To Dine – Why do villains always do this? I mean, not that I don’t enjoy watching this scene, but it happens all the time!
- She Cleans Up Nicely – I guarantee you have seen this one approximately three thousand times.
- Mentors – There is almost always one of these. And it is astonishing how often this happens to them.
- Hannibal Lecture – Ah, an old favorite, with many amusing associated tropes to go and click on. Don’t miss World Of Cardboard Speech.
This is just a tiny, tiny fragment of what the site has to offer, though. Go forth and enjoy – just don’t forget to come up for air sometimes.