Exhibits of Fail: TvTropes

Online among fan communities, there is a popular (3,356 on Alexa) website called TvTropes. On the surface, it looks like a website, that as the frontpage of it claims, is “a catalog of the tricks of the trade for writing fiction”. It declares:

We are not a stuffy encyclopedic wiki. We’re a buttload more informal. We encourage breezy language and original thought. There Is No Such Thing As Notability, and no citations are needed. If your entry cannot gather any evidence by the Wiki Magic, it will just wither and die. Until then, though, it will be available through the Main Tropes Index.

As you can see, it sounds like nothing is wrong right? I mean, it is a wiki for cataloging tropes, and what can be wrong with that? Well, the first sign something is wrong comes from the paragraph below:

We are also not a wiki for bashing things. Once again, we’re about celebrating fiction, not showing off how snide and sarcastic we can be.

Now of course, that might reek of a hugbox, mentality wise. I mean, online there are people who can’t handle criticism, but then again news media and encyclopedias want to present the reader with unbiased reporting and documentation of other things, so maybe I’m just being paranoid…I guess.  Anyways, let’s start exploring with a movie I like, Akira. By now, it’s one of those “cult films” so well known that tons of people have seen that iconic movie poster, and it’s also gotten a rerelease various places, from the Criterion Collection Laserdisc (known for releasing many other well known “artsy” films), to the new Funimation Blu-Ray featuring both the 1988 and 2001 dubs, along with amazing picture quality (It’s the first blu-ray film I saw too). Nearly every Anime fan who doesn’t only watch shitty slice of life shows or Naruto has seen it as well, and among Anime fans it’s iconic.


So, why am I talking about Akira? To compare it’s word count and the content of the page, with some “other” pages. First, I decided to paste the movie and general sections (I haven’t read the manga, but the Akira most people know is the movie) into Microsoft Word to let it count it. 3827 words. Alright, now let’s try something more specific, the “Nightmare Fuel” page. After all, Akira should have a long page. I mean, throughout the whole movie there is tons of nightmare fuel, from Tetsuo in general to all the violence and deaths on screen (It’s R rated for a reason).   A pathetic 293 words, for a movie that features tons of fluid, animated body horror, graphic hallucinations, and lots of drugs.

So, I decided to see what else had a nightmare fuel page. Next stop, Pokémon, possibly the most cookie cutter, safe JRPG I have played, especially recently, and what do I see. 22499 words and multiple sections, for a kids game. You can’t make this up, on a website that claims to analyze tropes in fiction, and on a page describing nightmare fuel, Pokemon has far far far more words than a movie where body horror is a key thing. Not only that, but it has several sub-pages too , for Mystery Dungeon, the Manga (probably the only one that should have a page out of the four), Black and White, and X and Y (Apparently there were people who found those stories deep, or more likely just overanalyzed it).

So, for the lulz I first went to the X and Y page, and wow, this was the first thing:

  • A glitch has been discovered that if you save in the outskirts of Lumiose (Saving inside buildings doesn’t seem to trigger it), it could permanently freeze your game and you’ll have to restart. All your hard work and fun could go to waste just because one time you saved in the wrong part of the wrong city. Fortunately, Nintendo has released a patch to fix the glitch, meaning it’s gone for good. Even if you stumble into this glitch as a result of not having Internet access/an SD Card at the time, don’t fret – nothing’s wrong with the save file. It’s the loading that fails, getting the patch will fix everything.
  • OH MAN, A GLITCH! THIS IS MORE NIGHTMARE FUEL THAN A CRONENBERG FILM! I mean good god, already this feels like I’m reading a more cringeworthy and unfunny version of RapGenius. In fact, this whole page could be summed up as OMG THIS RANDOM THING I SAW WAS CREEPY, and those were a good number of the entries, along with more edge than can be found on a Linkin Park CD.  They also had a LOT more spoilered out parts than Akira did, which makes it funnier considering that Pokemon never had a storyline that was ever deep. The main page also had a huge section dedicated to….glitches. Because a high frequency sound in your ears with garbage on screen is the same as some horror film and will give you nightmares, right?

    Just to confirm my impressions, I viewed the Dead Space Nightmare Fuel page. Only 1,993 words, for a series with far more nightmare fuel than any Pokemon game. Think about it for a second, a kids game having horror material than a horror game. Just for one last laugh, I went to the Five Night’s at Freddy’s page. 2963 words for the first, 3803 for the second, and 6766 for both combined. All for a game where the whole premise is Night Trap at a sleezy Chuck-E-Cheeses clone with jumpscares like Slender.

    But, before I jump to conclusions, let’s view one more page, the body horror page. You know, a genre dominated by gory Anime, Manga, Cronenberg, and other horror directors. Let’s see just what’s on that page…….

    body horror

    Man, look at all these notable categories. While many you’d expect, such as comic books (or graphic novels), Anime and Manga (Apparently they have to be separate from film and graphic novels), literature, you also have some categories that nobody gives a shit about such as Podcast, Toys, and of course my favorite, Fan Fic. Yes, apparently fanfics are so edgy they need their own section in the body horror page. So  I click that page and among the fanfics I see…Sonic and MLP fanfiction. It’s like this site is ticking every single box in the fail chart.

    However, one page makes it too easy. You see, there is a page called “Trope Overdosed”, which lists the franchises with the most pages on this site, now what could they be? Pokémon, Zelda, AND Sonic are “Saturated”, which means they have over 12000 “wicks”, while various other media franchises from Fallout to Mass Effect to Evangelion don’t have as many as Pokemon or Sonic do. That should tell you a LOT about this site.

    One more amusing page I decided to look at was the WMG page.   Now, the WMG page is where TvTropers overanalyze and type in their crackpot theories, with some being serious and others being bad jokes. Sonic has 49103 words. Serial Experiments Lain, an anime with a very distinct storyline that requires you to notice every detail? 11031 words. 1/5th the words for a series far more complex than a series about a hedgehog collecting rings running through loops.

    Noticing a pattern here? TvTropes users seem to obsess more over things for kids, and pages like this confirm it.  What also seems to confirm what I’m seeing is the ED article (NSFW obviously). It’s a long read full of cringe, but in the first part of the article, this line sums it up best:

    “just as how deviantART breeds hack artists and FanFiction.Net breeds hack writers, TV Tropes breeds hack critical analysts.”

    This is as close to the truth as it gets. For a movie that might come from the Criterion Collection with several essays,  you’ll see a TvTropes page categorizing a bunch of parts about it, but you won’t see as much detail as you would a page talking about Sonic. In other news, don’t expect a critical analysis of whatever you’re looking up on TvTropes, and especially if it’s not from mainstream pop culture and/or for kids. Considering how much fan fiction gets attention here, it’s an absolute joke of a site, and I didn’t even get into the article quality, where things that aren’t even tropes, audience reactions, or gameplay bugs are listed as tropes.

    And the worst part of this all? People spam links to this site like it’s critical analysis, when it’s merely hacks overanalyzing kids stuff. That is all I have to say.


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