Type of site
|Available in||13 languages|
|Registration||Required for all features other than viewing|
|CC-BY-NC-SA from July 2012|
|Written in||PmWiki (heavily modified)|
TV Tropes is a wiki that collects and documents descriptions and examples of plot conventions and devices, more commonly known as tropes, within many creative works. Since its establishment in 2004, the site has shifted focus from covering only television and film tropes to those in other types of media such as literature, comics, anime, manga, video games, music, advertisements, and toys, and their associated fandoms, as well as some non-media subjects such as history, geography, and politics. 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.
From April 2008 until July 2012, TV Tropes published free content. In July 2012, TV Tropes modified its license to allow only non-commercial distribution of its content. They continued to host the prior submissions under a new distribution license.
TV Tropes runs on a heavily modified version of PmWiki, but unlike PmWiki, it is not open source. Before October 2010, it was possible to edit anonymously. Registration is now mandatory for all other activities besides viewing the website.
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. He sold the site in 2014 to Drew Schoentrup and Chris Richmond, who then launched a Kickstarter to overhaul the codebase and design.
Initially focused on the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, TV Tropes has since covered television series, films, novels, plays, professional wrestling, video games, anime, manga, comic strips/books, and fan fiction. It renders many other subjects, including Internet works such as Wikipedia (often referred to in a tongue-in-cheek way as "The Other Wiki"). Additionally, articles on the site often relate to real life or point out real situations where certain tropes can or cannot be applied. It has also 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. It also can be used for recommending lesser-known media on the "Needs More Love" page.
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". 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. Economist Robin Hanson, inspired by a scholarly analysis of Victorian literature, suggests TV Tropes offers a veritable treasure trove of information about fiction – a prime opportunity for research into its nature. 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."
It has also been criticized for undermining creativity and experience.
Mature content incident
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.
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. ThinkProgress additionally condemned Google AdSense itself for "providing a financial disincentive to discuss" such topics. Pornographic tropes and works, as well as additional content deemed inappropriate for coverage on site, were also made prohibited following the incident.
Licensing and content forks
Regarding these and other concerns of re-licensing and advertising, a wiki called "All The Tropes" forked all the content from TV Tropes with the original CC-BY-SA license in late 2013. Authors of the fork attributed several actions of taking commercial rights over what is published on its website, censorship, and failing to comply with the original license to TV Tropes managers. Some editors raised concerns that keeping the content submitted with the previous copyleft license at TV Tropes is illegal, as the re-licensing had occurred without the permission of the editors and the original CC-BY-SA license did not allow its distribution under the new terms.
- "Language Indices - TV Tropes". TV Tropes. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
- "About Us". TV Tropes. Archived from the original on April 21, 2016. Retrieved April 19, 2016.
- Tropes, TV. "Page Counts". TV Tropes. TV Tropes Inc. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
- "Administrivia: Welcome to TV Tropes". TV Tropes. Archived from the original on May 7, 2014. Retrieved May 15, 2014. "Your Rights (Legal Stuff)"
- "What Pm Wiki theme does this site use?". TV Tropes. TV Tropes. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
- 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.
- "The Current - TVTropes.org: Harnessing the might of the people to analyze fiction". Thecurrentonline.com. Archived from the original on August 2, 2009. Retrieved May 18, 2010.
- 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.
- "TV Tropes Home Page". TVTropes.org. Archived from the original on April 22, 2008. Retrieved May 16, 2014.
- "TV Tropes Home Page". TVTropes.org. Archived from the original on July 17, 2012. Retrieved September 3, 2015.
- "TV Tropes Relicensed its Content - Without Permit". Soylent News. May 15, 2014. Archived from the original on October 5, 2015. Retrieved September 3, 2015.
- "Administrivia: The Google Incident". TV Tropes. Archived from the original on May 16, 2014. Retrieved May 16, 2014.
- 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.
- Tattoli, Chantel (March 11, 2021). "TVtropes.org's Treasure and Trash". The Believer. Retrieved April 24, 2021.
- Bruce Sterling (January 21, 2009). "TV Tropes, the all-devouring pop-culture wiki". WIRED. Archived from the original on March 12, 2017. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
- Börzsei, Linda (April 2012). "Literary Criticism in New Media". Academia.edu. Archived from the original on July 11, 2015. Retrieved September 3, 2015.
- Kruger, Daniel; et al. (2006). "Hierarchy in the Library: Egalitarian Dynamics in Victorian Novels" (PDF). Journal of Evolutionary Psychology. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 23, 2013. Retrieved November 1, 2013.
- Hanson, Robin (May 9, 2009). "Tropes Are Treasures". Overcoming Bias. Archived from the original on October 20, 2016. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
- Douglas, Nick (February 12, 2018). "Use the TV Tropes Site the Same Way You Would Wikipedia". Lifehacker. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
- Media After Deleuze - Google Books (pg.149)
- "Google Groups". productforums.google.com. Retrieved October 6, 2016.
- Aja Romano (June 26, 2012). "TV Tropes Deletes Every Rape Trope; Geek Feminism Wiki steps in". themarysue.com. Archived from the original on April 23, 2014. Retrieved May 16, 2014.
- Alyssa Rosenberg (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.
- "TV Tropes Home Page". Archived from the original on June 14, 2012.
- "TV Tropes Home Page". Archived from the original on July 22, 2012.
- "The TV Tropes Foundation?". TV Tropes. Archived from the original on May 6, 2014.
- "Line 244 Administrivia/WelcomeToTVTropes". TV Tropes. Archived from the original on May 17, 2014. Retrieved May 15, 2014. "By contributing content to this site, whether text or images, you grant TV Tropes irrevocable ownership of said content, with all rights surrendered [...] We are not required to attribute content you contribute to you, nor do you retain ownership of anything you contribute. Anything you contribute may be deleted, modified, or used commercially by us without notification or consent, to the extent permitted by applicable laws. For that reason, we strongly recommend that you do not post material on our site, whether in text or image form, that you wish to receive commercial benefit from in the future."
- "History: Administrivia/WelcomeToTVTropes page history". TV Tropes. Archived from the original on May 17, 2014. Retrieved May 15, 2014. "Your Rights (Legal Stuff)"
- "Line 302 Administrivia/WelcomeToTVTropes". TV Tropes. Archived from the original on April 12, 2015. Retrieved April 6, 2015. "TV Tropes does not claim ownership to your copyrighted content or information you submit to us ("user content"). Instead, by submitting user content to TV Tropes, you grant us a royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, unrestricted, worldwide license to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, prepare derivative works, distribute copies, perform, or publicly display your user content in any medium and for any purpose, including commercial purposes, and to authorize others to do so."
- "Line 306 Administrivia/WelcomeToTVTropes". TV Tropes. Archived from the original on April 12, 2015. Retrieved April 6, 2015. "We are not required to attribute your user content to you. Anything you contribute may be deleted, modified, or used commercially by us without notification or consent, to the extent permitted by applicable laws. For that reason, we strongly recommend that you do not post material on our site for the first time, whether in text or image form, that you wish to receive publication credit for in the future."
- "All The Tropes:Why Fork TV Tropes". miraheze.org. Archived from the original on November 24, 2015.