Ten of TV’s Most Obnoxious, Overused Tropes

Did people in the 1960s, when TV was a relatively new source of entertainment, predict that at the end of the “Mr. McBeevee” episode of “The Andy Griffith Show,” the previously-unseen-by-everyone-but-Opie titular character was going to appear? Like we would now. You see, Mr. B is a “Not So Imaginary Friend,” and because of Opie stating that he has 12 hands…The point I’m trying to make is: recognizing tropes have made us more cynical about TV, and that’s why I love them.

One of the reasons why shows like “Community” and “South Park” are so good is because they rarely go the easy route and do something that’s been seen a million times before. Their success comes from the way they subvert tropes, unlike, say, “Two and a Half Men” or “Family Guy,” both of which have been doing the same exact stories with the same exact jokes that “The Honeymooners” did in 1955. Just not as well.

On the following pages are 10 of my least-favorite TV tropes. If ever you’ve groaned at a character screaming in horror when they realize who their bedmate is, or turned the channel when someone thought they were high or drunk when they were actually just given a placebo, this list is for you. (Note: this is not the 10 WORST – it’s 10 that really bug me, even if some of my favorite shows use them. Please list your least favorites.)

#10. Ugly Guy, Hot Wife

TV Tropes Excerpt: “A very common trope, particularly in animation and sitcoms, is for a woman to be far more attractive than her significant other. This is largely a result of Hollywood-style casting for women’s roles in which average-looking women are virtually unknown, leaving a large amount of hotties needing work.”

Notable Examples: Peter and Louis Griffin on “Family Guy,” Kevin James and Leah Remini on “The King of Queens,” Homer and Marge Simpson on “The Simpsons,” Harry Goldenblatt‎ and Charlotte Yorke on “Sex and the City” (This one’s so overused that I’ve put it down at #10, because it’d be too obvious of a #1 choice, no matter how obnoxious the idea of James Belushi schtupping Courtney Thorne-Smith is.)

#9. We Want Our Jerk Back

TV Tropes Excerpt: “A common Sitcom plot where the total Jerk Ass learns his lesson, turns sweet and benevolent — and becomes absolutely intolerable, making the other characters yearn for the original personality. Eventually the character in question will revert to normal, and the reaction will either be relief, or realization that he really is worse in his obnoxious form.”