TV Tropes

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TV Tropes
The words "tv tropes" with a lampshade on the second "t" in reference to lampshading, or talking about tropes already happening, in fiction.
Screenshot as of July 16, 2020
Type of site
Available in13 languages[1]
RegistrationRequired for all features other than viewing
LaunchedApril 2004; 20 years ago (2004-04)
Current statusActive
Content license
CC BY-NC-SA[4] from July 2012
Written inPmWiki (very heavily modified with no current source code used)[5][6]

TV Tropes is a wiki that collects and documents descriptions and examples of plot conventions and devices, which it refers to as tropes, within many creative works.[7] Since its establishment in 2004, the site has shifted focus from covering various tropes to those in general media, toys, writings, and their associated fandoms, as well as some non-media subjects such as history, geography, and politics.[8][9] The nature of the site as a provider of commentary on pop culture and fiction has attracted attention and criticism from several web personalities and blogs. Users of the site's community are called "Tropers", which primarily consist of 18-34 year olds.[10][11]

From April 2008 until July 2012, TV Tropes published free content.[12] After that, the site modified its license to allow only non-commercial distribution of its content but continued to host the prior submissions under a new distribution license.[13][14]

The TV Tropes website runs on its own wiki engine software, an extremely modified version of PmWiki to the point where the PmWiki website lists that it "no longer uses PmWiki in any way; the only trace that remains is in the URL" and that "no code is in use"[15] but is not open source.[5] Before October 2010, it was possible to edit anonymously; however, registration is now mandatory for all other activities besides viewing the website.[16] It has two subwikis meant to categorize the more informal tropes and is held to less rigorous standards. Darth Wiki, named after Darth Vader from Star Wars as a play on "the dark side" of TV Tropes, is a resource for more criticism-based trope examples and sometimes highlighting "the dark side" of various works, and Sugar Wiki is about praising things and is meant to be "the sweet side" of TV Tropes.


TV Tropes was founded in 2004 by a programmer under the pseudonym "Fast Eddie." He described himself as having become interested in the conventions of genre fiction while studying at MIT in the 1970s and after browsing Internet forums in the 1990s.[17] He sold the site in 2014 to Drew Schoentrup and Chris Richmond, who then launched a Kickstarter to overhaul the codebase and design.[18]

Initially focused on the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, TV Tropes has since expanded its coverage of many forms of media, including fan fiction,[17] and many other subjects, including Internet works such as Wikipedia (often referred to in a tongue-in-cheek way as "The Other Wiki").[18] Articles on the site often relate to real life or point out real situations where certain tropes are applied. It has used its informal style to describe topics such as science, philosophy, politics, and history under its Useful Notes section. TV Tropes does not have notability standards for the works it covers.[17]

In October 2010, in what the site refers to as "The Google Incident", Google temporarily withdrew its AdSense service from the site after determining that pages regarding adult and mature tropes were inconsistent with its terms of service. The site separated NSFG articles (Not Safe for Google) from SFG articles (Safe for Google) in order to allow discussion of these kinds of tropes.[16][19]

In a separate incident in 2012, in response to other complaints by Google, TV Tropes changed its guidelines to restrict coverage of sexist tropes and rape tropes. Feminist blog The Mary Sue criticized this decision, as it censored documentation of sexist tropes in video games and young adult fiction.[20] ThinkProgress additionally condemned Google AdSense itself for "providing a financial disincentive to discuss" such topics.[21] Pornographic tropes and works, as well as additional content deemed inappropriate for coverage, were also removed from the site following the incident.


In an interview with TV Tropes co-founder Fast Eddie, Gawker Media's blog io9 described the tone of contributions to the site as "often light and funny". Cyberpunk author Bruce Sterling once described its style as a "wry fanfic analysis".[22] Essayist Linda Börzsei described TV Tropes as a technological continuum of classical archetypal literary criticisms, capable of deconstructing recurring elements from creative works in an ironic fashion.[23] Economist Robin Hanson, inspired by a scholarly analysis of Victorian literature,[24] suggests TV Tropes offers a veritable treasure trove of information about fiction – a prime opportunity for research into its nature.[25] In Lifehacker, Nick Douglas compared TV Tropes to Wikipedia, recommending to "use [TV Tropes] when Wikipedia feels impenetrable, when you want opinions more than facts, or when you've finished a Wikipedia page and now you want the juicy parts, the hard-to-confirm bits that Wikipedia doesn't share."[26] Writing for The Believer, Chantel Tattolli commented that "It is deeply satisfying to go there and reckon with the patterns made over time, across culture, medium, and genre—and to catch them in rotation."[18]

In the book Media After Deleuze, authors David Savat and Tauel Harper say that while TV Tropes does offer a "wonderful archeology of storytelling", the site undermines creativity and experience by attempting to "classify and represent" every part of a work.[27] The site is described in Reference Reviews as "an excellent example of linked data", but pointedly "lacks accountability as a reliable resource" due to its standards on notability.[28]

See also[edit]

Relevant fields of critique[edit]


  1. ^ "Language Indices - TV Tropes". TV Tropes. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Ownership FAQ". TV Tropes. Retrieved November 27, 2022.
  3. ^ Tropes, TV. "Page Counts". TV Tropes. TV Tropes Inc. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
  4. ^ "Administrivia: Welcome to TV Tropes". TV Tropes. Archived from the original on May 7, 2014. Retrieved May 15, 2014. "Your Rights (Legal Stuff)"
  5. ^ a b "What Pm Wiki theme does this site use?". TV Tropes. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
  6. ^ "PmWiki Users". PmWiki. Retrieved August 18, 2023.
  7. ^ Cagle, Kurt (April 1, 2009). "From Mary Sue to Magnificent Bastards: TV Tropes and Spontaneous Linked Data". Semantic Universe. Archived from the original on November 3, 2014. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
  8. ^ "The Current - Harnessing the might of the people to analyze fiction". Archived from the original on August 2, 2009. Retrieved May 18, 2010.
  9. ^ Pincus-Roth, Zachary (February 28, 2010). "TV Tropes identifies where you've seen it all before". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on March 3, 2010. Retrieved March 1, 2010.
  10. ^ "". Similarweb. Retrieved January 22, 2024.
  11. ^ "Troper Demographics". TV Tropes. Retrieved August 9, 2023.
  12. ^ "TV Tropes Home Page". Archived from the original on April 22, 2008. Retrieved May 16, 2014.
  13. ^ "TV Tropes Home Page". Archived from the original on July 17, 2012. Retrieved September 3, 2015.
  14. ^ "TV Tropes Relicensed its Content - Without Permit". Soylent News. May 15, 2014. Archived from the original on October 5, 2015. Retrieved September 3, 2015.
  15. ^ "PmWiki Users". Pmwiki. Retrieved August 18, 2023.
  16. ^ a b "The Google Incident / Archive". TV Tropes. Archived from the original on May 16, 2014. Retrieved May 16, 2014.
  17. ^ a b c Newitz, Annalee (February 24, 2010). "Behind The Wiki: Meet TV Tropes Cofounder Fast Eddie". io9. Archived from the original on February 27, 2010. Retrieved February 25, 2010.
  18. ^ a b c Tattoli, Chantel (March 11, 2021). "'s Treasure and Trash". The Believer. Archived from the original on March 22, 2023. Retrieved April 24, 2021.
  19. ^ "Google Groups". Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  20. ^ Romano, Aja (June 26, 2012). "TV Tropes Deletes Every Rape Trope; Geek Feminism Wiki steps in". Archived from the original on April 23, 2014. Retrieved May 16, 2014.
  21. ^ Rosenberg, Alyssa (June 26, 2012). "TV Tropes Bows to Google's Ad Servers, Deletes Discussions of Sexual Assault in Culture". ThinkProgress. Archived from the original on May 17, 2014. Retrieved May 16, 2014.
  22. ^ Sterling, Bruce (January 21, 2009). "TV Tropes, the all-devouring pop-culture wiki". WIRED. Archived from the original on March 12, 2017. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
  23. ^ Börzsei, Linda (April 2012). "Literary Criticism in New Media". Archived from the original on July 11, 2015. Retrieved September 3, 2015.
  24. ^ Kruger, Daniel; et al. (2006). "Hierarchy in the Library: Egalitarian Dynamics in Victorian Novels" (PDF). Journal of Evolutionary Psychology. Archived from the original on October 23, 2013. Retrieved November 1, 2013.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  25. ^ Hanson, Robin (May 9, 2009). "Tropes Are Treasures". Overcoming Bias. Archived from the original on October 20, 2016. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
  26. ^ Douglas, Nick (February 12, 2018). "Use the TV Tropes Site the Same Way You Would Wikipedia". Lifehacker. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
  27. ^ Savat, David; Harper, Tauel (July 28, 2016). Media After Deleuze. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 149. ISBN 978-1472531506.
  28. ^ Whitford, Leslie (January 19, 2015). "TV Tropes". Reference Reviews. 29 (1): 35–36. doi:10.1108/RR-07-2014-0213. ISSN 0950-4125.

External links[edit]