We all know a TV cliche when we see one. Even current shows like Legion and Pitch run afoul of them. Whether it’s one character accidentally seeing another character naked in a sitcom or killing off Steve Buscemi, cliches prove that sometimes writers just can’t think of a unique plot point to deliver their story. So which are the worst ones to avoid if you’re trying to become a TV writer yourself?
Leftovers and Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof, who’s also shared his favorite TV endings, sat down with HitFix host Miri Jedeikin to drop some more knowledge. This time, he offers his take on the five cardinal sins of television writing that every writer should steer clear of. His number one TV cliche? Ending the pilot with a murder, because the audience knows that it will take the whole season to get any sort of closure. Crutch-providing voiceovers and characters getting rained on to provide extra catharsis are also egregious sins to Lindelof. Finally, he knocks black umbrellas at funerals and expository titles.
Of course, there are exceptions to all of these. Lindelof says himself that all things related to Gotham City can get away with the black umbrellas cliche because how could that city make umbrellas available in any other color? And before commenters start complaining, it can’t be ignored that Lindelof’s series have been guilty of some of these as well (it rained a lot on that island, after all). So maybe TV cliches shouldn’t be used as easy fixes but need to be earned…and used sparingly.