My Top 5 Very Specific Favorite Tropes

Hello again! I’m still recovering from a terrible hard drive crash (🥴) and had to dip from the blog for a while, but today I come to you with a list of favorite tropes inspired by one from the marvelous Aria @ Snow White Hates Apples! I love her list (and her blog in general), and I just had to join in on the fun.


1. Training In A Sci-Fi/Fantasy Setting

The Hunger Games (2010)

Whether it’s magic, technology, or warfare, I love it when characters have to train in a story. Better yet––I love it when the training is the story. As most of us spend a literal decade or more in school, learning (and how/why to do it) is a big question in our lives and I’m always delighted to see an author really think it through. (With the added adventure of space or political intrigue, of course!)

Books With This Trope:

  • The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna
  • Crewel by Gennifer Albin
  • Skyward by Brandon Sanderson
  • Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

2. Death And The Maiden

“Death and the Maiden” by Egon Shiele (1915)

When it comes to romantic dynamics, I’m hard pressed to find a favorite that tops this one: basically, a death-god or ruler (or another magical character that evokes this, like an Erlking or personification of winter) falls in love with a mortal. I enjoy first and foremost how the mortal has to overcome their frightened first impressions: over time, the ‘death’ love interest gets re-imagined as compelling, and, eventually, appealing, and this usually involves the author also taking a closer look at whatever conventionally evil symbol is associated with them. But, let’s be honest, I’m often here to watch the pairing overcome a power dynamic: there is nothing more satisfying than a regular person gathering the gumption to contend with their deathly love interest, and, in the process, winning their heart.

Books With This Trope:

  • Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
  • Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt
  • The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
  • Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

3. Untrustworthy Guide

The Two Towers (2002)

You’re in uncharted territory, and you need someone to show you the ropes. Ideally for a character, this is someone they feel like they can trust, but it’s way more interesting if this is far from the case. I really enjoy watching heroes swallow their doubts and follow someone with uncertain intentions, whatever the actual outcome. It paves the way for plenty of conflict to break out, and it often has lots of buildup when it finally does.

Books & Movies With This Trope:

  • Hilda and the Mountain King by Luke Pearson
  • The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
  • Tangled (2010)
  • Blood Heir by Amélie Wen Zhao

4. Arranged/Practical Marriage

All’s Well That Ends Well (RSC 2013)

This one’s kind of dubious, but I’m obsessed. I love reading about characters who marry for reasons other than love. Whether it’s merely politically convenient, or demanded of them by the powers that be, arranged marriage, especially in a fantasy setting, showcases a delicious tug-of-war between love and obligation. Plus the possibility that there might be real affection underneath the empty wedding bands makes me absolutely feral. EVERY time.

Books & Plays With This Trope:

  • Wither by Lauren DeStefano
  • All’s Well That Ends Well by William Shakespeare
  • Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
  • The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White

5. What’s Really In The Food

Doctor Who: “Smile” (2017)

This one’s a bit rarer, but it’s really effective. Usually in a dystopia––or in some other terrible environment that superficially resembles one––we learn that what the characters are eating…is not what they thought they were eating. This can be anything from a particularly gross food source to the remains of other people (!!!), but whatever it is, it gets to the heart of what’s wrong with a society in the quickest way we know: through its collective stomach. Calling this one a favorite is a stretch, considering that it’s generally pretty disturbing, but it always sticks with me, and of all these tropes, I think it’s the most powerful.

Books, Movies, & TV With This Trope:

  • The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand
  • Snowpiercer (2013)
  • Doctor Who: “Smile” (2017)
  • Soylent Green (1973) {Which I haven’t seen, but is probably this trope’s most famous example!}

Thank you so much for joining me on this strange journey into my tastes! If you have ANY recs for my favorite tropes, throw them at me, and as always, tell me all about yours 💕

Author: Pippin

Pippin read Jane Eyre when she was sixteen, and will spend the rest of her life chasing the high.

4 thoughts on “My Top 5 Very Specific Favorite Tropes”

  1. Omg, I LOVE your list!! Number 2 is an absolute favorite of mine too 😍 I recently read Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson which has the part of the trope (minus the romance which I’m actually hoping will come in the sequel) but the growing understanding between them nevertheless a stunner.

    Also, hard drive crashes 100% suck. Hope everything’s alright now, though!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! And yes 🥰 I adore anything even remotely along those lines and I’ve been looking to get into something by Rogerson!

      And––the crash took some important stuff, but I think I’m going to be okay! With waaay more regular backups lol 😅

      Liked by 1 person

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