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Overused Plots in Movies and TV

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by D'Snowth, Jan 22, 2010.

  1. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Okay, last night MC kept conking out on me, so let's see if I can't get my post to go through today, even though there's been other posts since then and we've moved on...
    That's EXACTLY what I was thinking of as I mentioned that. Last year on YouTube someone posted the episode "Green with Jealousy" (put took it down shortly afterwards and I wish he didn't), and put in the description box "standard love potion episode of an 80s cartoon"... so I'm guess love potions are another overused plot device, especially in cartoons and such, lol.

    Yeah I know what that's like... like with Alvin and The Chipmunks where we all know Simon and Jeanette like each other but are too nervous to say anything, but fans actually want to keep it that way because if they did say something it'd kill the whole thing kind of; I can see where they're coming from to that effect, but as a Simanette shipper myself I wouldn't mind seeing a little "puppy love" romance between them sometime.
  2. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Honestly, I haven't really seen that plot a whole lot, but the closest thing I can think of is the episode of The Andy Griffith Show where Andy joined Charlene Darling and Dudd Walsh in wedlock being he's the Justice-Of-The-Peace, but back home in the mountains, Ernest T. Bass (as played by Howard Morris) wanted Charlene himself and insisted they weren't rightfully married since Andy isn't a preacher.
  3. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    1980's cartoons are ESPECIALLY infamous for using the same plots over and over again. Jeffery Scott, much as I admire what he accomplished, was a HUGE perpetrator of this, even reusing the same titles over and over. I don't know where you can find his filmography, but rest assured, you see a lot of "Lights Camera ______" and "_________-lympics" in his titles. Of course, he wrote for Super Friends at one point... so, there's your contrived cartoon plotlines right there.
  4. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Admittedly, I rely a lot on cultural references in my writing as well, lol.

    It seems like anything I write anymore has SOME kind of hidden M*A*S*H reference in it.
  5. dwmckim

    dwmckim Well-Known Member

    Plot/storytelling device i am so sick of: Back from the dead. A staple of soaps that's worked its way into primetime dramas. Fans of television shows have gotten so used to it that when a character dies, the fans always note if the death took place onscreen or not or if anyone ever saw a body.

    Even Farscape had just about every character "die" and come back. Sometimes it was cliched but other times they at least appoached it with some creativity or twist (with scifi, you can get away with that a little more). In the show's fourth episode, there was a character who was able to breathe life back into Rygel (no mention of this creature or race was ever made in the saga again) but doing that so early in the series just kind of took away the impact of mortality knowing it was possible for a creature like that to undo death.

    As much as the cliche gets overdone, what will work my last nerve is when writers feel "it's a cliche so no one will mind" is when a character who's been shown to actually be dead beyond doubt is brought back. That's the laziest kind of storytelling and it insults the audience. It says "don't bother investing in our stories because we can set the reset button anytime and anything we've done in the past doesn't matter". Farscape did this a couple times with Scorpius and didn't even try to explain how he managed to survive a situation and it was a particular letdown from a show with normally such smart writing.

    Many of you know, ever since One Life to Live became the subject of cancellation rumors in September (and the daytime drama genre dying), i've been actively involved with fan movements to keep it going before any actual announcements or official decisions. While i do feel their current head writer is one of the show's all-time best and that OLTL is one of the best-written shows on television in any genre, at the same time i'd be trying to spread the word about how well-written it was, Ron Carlivati did some uncharacteristicly lazy and sloppy writing choices including bringing back one of the show's most notorious villains, Mitch Laurence, back from the dead. While his current presence is a goldmine of story possibilities, it's also a turn-off to fans who actually care about plausible continuity and storytelling - since this is his second return from the dead. The first time he was dead, it was firmly established that he was indeed dead - having been shown crossed over to the afterlife! Last time he died, Todd Manning did so many things to his dead body to be sure he "stayed dead this time" that it was as if the writing regime at that time was saying to the viewers "yeah, we know we abused the storyteller/audience faith with his return but now we're making up for it by showing that this time we MEAN it!" But now that he's back again, it's beyond insulting to the viewers.

    It didn't help that at about the same time, they abused another sacred trust. Television children in pretty much all genres - dramas and comedies - are often rapidly aged (there's an actual term for this: SORAS - Sudden Overnight Rapidly Aging Syndrome - when a young character suddenly is a couple months or years older). This happens so often that fans generally accept it as long as it's done within reason - you don't make a baby a full grown adult overnight and you keep all the other ages of the other characters relative...a younger sibling doesn't become the older of the two for example. OLTL did a major disregard of this with what fans have taken to calling "The Seven Year Old Teenager" - Todd finds out he has a child from when he was stuck on an island seven years ago where he ended up due to a plot to kidnap his two children he lost custody of went awry. But when they revealed his island child (despite many recent mentions of being "seven years ago") the child in question was not only a teenager...but OLDER than one of the children Todd tried to kidnap leading to the events surrounding her birth!

    Two blatent disregard of the viewers' intelligence and devotion to following the stories - i was personally furious as i was trying to defend and promote the writing of a show that was temporarily engaging in the worst kind of story ruination. Thankfully the show got back on track and has since returned to its high quality writing, but those two major missteps happening at the same time did insult a lot of its longtime fanbase and caused people to tune out hurting its ratings further.

    When television writers do Back From the Dead stories with a character that has been shown to actually be dead and not just presumed so - or engages in any other massive rewrite that disrupts the continuity of everything that's been previously established, it insults the viewers and gets people to turn against them. Any short-term benefits outweight the long-term damage. Viewers will engage in a certain level of suspension of disbelief - but you have to still be plausible with what's been established in the story/universe you've set up.

    When the new Melrose Place debuted with its main story showing a character that had died on camera in the previous series now alive...and killed off right away as the focus of its major first story arc - i knew MP 2.0 would be a trainwreck of a disaster. I was right.
  6. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Forgive me for not reading your post in its entirety DW, but I skimmed through it enough to know that I absolutely agree with the bringing a dead character back to life plot device.

    Admittedly, I've been involved in a RP game on another forum, and while one of the scenarios of the story involved a war within the spirit world, and certain characters that were dead were brought back in spirit form I could live with, but after the war in the story was over certain characters that died were being brought back, either in the form of "guardian angels" or being upset that their lives ended too soon and asking God to be human again. It got old after a while, and pretty soon, it got crowded because we had all of these different characters right and left we had to continue to write for and it could get confusing.

    But since the story was a group effort, I just kept my mouth shut and didn't complain, but that was one of my minor quibbles. That and the constant need to incorporate sex scenes into the story ever other page or so.
  7. ryhoyarbie

    ryhoyarbie Well-Known Member

    Here's another: Rumors that cause friends to break a part until finally both friends talk to each other and realize that's not what he/she meant. And in between someone has to be in the middle and do a little preaching and tell that person "perhaps that's not what your friend meant" or "you don't really know what they said until you ask them because you're just assuming".

    I think I remember that episode. That's where some of the turtles go crazy for either Irma or April.
  8. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Surprising, it was Irma, lol.

    While the Turtles falling for her was funny, one of my favorite lines from that episode is when April and Irma were down at the pier...

    IRMA: I didn't even get to meet one single sailor.
    APRIL: What are you talking about? You just met a whole fleet of them over there!
    IRMA: I said SINGLE sailor, those guys are all married.
  9. Xerus

    Xerus Well-Known Member

    I remember the Dennis the Menace cartoon from the 80's had lots of cartoon cliches. Like Dennis traveling through time, Dennis saving Margo's life, Mr. Wilson on a diet, Dennis having a Wizard of Oz dream. It's like they used almost every cartoon cliche in that series.
  10. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    You know, one variation that I'd like to see: Somebody mistakenly thinks nobody likes his/her personality and has a big change, maybe even going as far to talk in a different voice, wear a wig, and even change their name... And at the end, after realizing (or just assuming) nobody liked that new personality... Instead of just reverting back to normal, they change their personality to something else!
  11. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I think that transcends plot and becomes a general cliche all together. While it does have to do a lot with plot lines, it's mainly some sort of character trait.


    Kinnikuman, as everyone knows by now my favorite anime, does that ALL the time, and mostly for no apparent reason. One character who had a giant teacup for a head has his head ripped clean off and his body pierced... and he somehow became one of the trainers in the 2001 series. If it were a major important character, I'd see it... but this guy was minor as they come. Maybe they just forgot he was dead. :D
  12. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    For some reason I keep thinking that somebody mentioned an overused plot involving somebody deciding they would rather be more like one of the other characters... Can't really find it (though I saw a few that I could have mistook the comments for), but it is a bit awkward when first season episodes involve one character acting like another character. Bobby decided to act like Louie in the first season Taxi episode "High School Reunion", and Red acted like Mokey in the first season Fraggle Rock episode "I Want to Be You"... It seems odd when they decide to do these kinds of plots in the first season, as the characters are fairly new and the audience is just meeting them... I'm impressed that the "characters acting like other characters" works during first season episodes... The writers/producers better be confident enough that the actors know what characteristics to portray in such a short time, and they'd better be confident that the audience is familiar enough with them by that time.
  13. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    Well, as I recall in the documentary/interview stuff on the FR DVD's, Karen Prell had a hard time figuring Red out UNTIL Red tried to be like Mokey, then it all sorta gelled. So, they can be useful to iron out the differences.
  14. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member


    I can't believe ANYONE (not even myself) has brought up the lame "Pregnant woman in an elevator" sitcom cliche before now. Talk about tiresome and pointless. Even Recess made fun of that old cliche (mentioning it was an episode of Beany McChimp). Man, I HATE that one. :D
  15. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Um... what? Is that from modern sitcoms or something? Because I don't recall no "lame pregnant woman in an elevator sitcom cliche" before...
  16. Gelfling Girl

    Gelfling Girl Well-Known Member

    The only one I can recall is the Christmas episode of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.
  17. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Oh. I wouldn't know, I don't watch any of those Disney kidcoms, lol.
  18. Gelfling Girl

    Gelfling Girl Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I sometimes watch it, but mostly it's just AFV, game shows, and taped episodes of Sesame Street.
  19. Super Scooter

    Super Scooter Well-Known Member

    It doesn't typically happen to a main character. But, often a main character is stuck in an elevator with a pregnant woman, and sometimes assists with the birth (or just faints).

    The only time I can recall a main pregnant character being stuck in an elevator was in the Dick Van Dyke Show, but she didn't give birth there... Don Rickles held them up instead.
  20. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member


    Well then, in that case, then yeah, even M*A*S*H did that once where Hawkeye helped a Korean woman deliver on a bus back to camp, while Radar kept freaking out... but that was genuinely funny though, lol.

    HAWKEYE: Where were you when they taught this in school? !
    RADAR: I must've been out that year! Should I get some hot water or somethin'?
    HAWKEYE: There's no time for that!
    RADAR: I'd be very happy to get off this bus and go look for some... maybe there's uh... a hot river near here?

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