The random pregnancy.
The boss who won't listen so that the hero has to do something risky without backup.
The love triangle that tears friends apart.
These scenarios are so common that you probably thought of a show or two that's driving you nuts using them while reading the words.
Common scenarios, also called TV tropes, have their uses, but more often than not they just make viewers choose between pulling their hair out and changing the channel! But with a little creativity, these tropes can easily be turned into something original that'll get people talking, and not just about how annoyed they are.
Some shows are already doing this but some are not. Here's our picks for the top 13 TV tropes that may or may not be being used effectively.
Love Triangles Tearing Friends Apart
We've seen this over and over. Two women, best friends at the beginning of the storyline, both fall for the same guy and pretty soon they've become bitter enemies out to destroy the competition.
Thankfully, Riverdale chose to turn this trope on its head by having Betty and Veronica decide to put their friendship with each other over their feelings for Archie.
Maybe other shows will follow suit or, better yet, have two guys pine over the same girl or throw some non-heterosexual love interests into the mix.
Contrived Couple Drama
On-screen romances would be boring if all that happened was that two people fated to get together did and lived happily ever after. But sometimes the will-they-won't-they question gets dragged on for too long or couples face ridiculous obstacles for the sake of creating drama, making viewers stop caring whether they get together or not.
Jamie and Eddie on Blue Bloods are a prime example of this – how many seasons now has it been without much forward movement in their story?
This one has such an easy fix, too. Just let the couple face some sort of problem together so that their happily ever after is less fairy-tale like and more true to real life and real love.
People Getting Into Dangerous Situations That Could Have Easily Been Prevented
Everyone loves a little excitement, but when characters' lives are in danger for no reason except their own stupidity, it cheapens the plot.
Days of Our Lives does this often, constantly letting bad guys get away with obvious crimes because the police are stupid and oblivious.
Recently, Gabi was kidnapped by a rogue cop because she ignored instructions to avoid a crime scene minutes after her FBI-agent love interest explained to her how dangerous it was.
Good drama doesn't insult viewers' intelligence like this. How about showing citizens getting in trouble while working with the cops instead of doing their jobs for them?
Bosses That Refuse to Listen for No Reason
Conflicts at work often drive TV plots, and that's all well and good, but not when the conflict is that the boss refuses to listen to a clearly competent employee, leading to rebellious behavior, danger, or other problems.
This pretty much drove the plot for the entire first season of Homeland, when CIA agent Carrie's suspicions about a newly-returned POW from Afghanistan were dismissed even though it was her job to have those kinds of suspicions and investigate them.
How about a more plausible reason for this kind of conflict, like pressure to cover up the situation from someone higher in the chain of command?
Women Cutting Their Hair Because of Trauma
For some reason, women's hairstyle choices are used as evidence of psychological problems on many TV shows. Women cut their hair to gain control over their lives or make a statement about changes to their identity.
Although Law and Order: SVU has been guilty of this from time to time (in an early episode a rape victim who couldn't deal with what had happened to her showed up with a shorter haircut), the show – or at least its star &nash; also turns this trope on its head.
Diehard SVU fans are sometimes curious about what hairstyle Olivia Benson will be wearing this year, as Mariska Hargitay has sported a different style in every one of the show's previous 17 seasons.
The Cop Who Relentlessly Pursues Justice
TV has been full of cops who are passionate about justice and strive to make the world a better place since Dragnet premiered in the late 1950s.
Today's crime dramas try to take a more nuanced view, but the stereotype remains.
The sadly short-lived Chicago Justice didn't deal with cops as much as lawyers, but it did a good job of subverting this trope by having its main attorney be stubborn nd naive to social realities so that his behavior often did more harm than good to people he thought he was standing up for.
Random Pregnancies Because the Actress Is Pregnant
When actresses become pregnant in real life, the pregnancy is often written into the show, with the mother-to-be's character becoming pregnant.
This can be great or it can be awful, depending on whether the pregnancy actually makes sense in the context of the show.
SVU unfortunately missed the target when actress Kelli Giddish became pregnant in real life, as Detective Rollins was revealed to have had a one-night stand with an undercover officer who had saved her from gambling addiction a couple seasons before.
After the reveal, Rollins rejected her baby daddy's offer of help and he was never seen or mentioned again.
This was silly and unnecessary and this trope could easily have become a more interesting story had the father been chosen more logically and an actual storyline developed around Rollins' accidental pregnancy.
Characters With Ridiculously Tragic Lives
Characters who face significant obstacles in their lives and/or have psychological problems as a result can be interesting.
But sometimes it seems like a character has had the worst luck in the world and has suffered from every bad thing that can ever happen to anyone. If a character has too many problems the tragedy can be over the top.
Major Crimes almost did this with the character of Rusty, who witnessed a murder while living on the streets, was stalked by the murderer, was secretly gay, and had been abandoned by a birth mother who was severely addicted to drugs.
Luckily, Sharon's influence on Rusty has allowed him to be a mostly normal young man, even if he struggles with intimacy and has poor taste in boyfriends.
Heroes Who Do Bad Things for Good Reasons
Sometimes the line gets blurred between good guy and villain, and people who are supposed to be heroes do questionable or even outright horrible things in the name of the greater good.
Having a character struggle with an ethical dilemma is one thing, but encouraging the audience to root for a character who does bad things is another.
Chicago PD's Hank Voight and his frequent manhandling of suspects and outright violations of the law is a prime example. Voight is so likeable when he isn't b eating people up that he almost gets away with it.
Voight has come close to facing consequences for his behavior several times and it might be interesting to take that even further and see whether the audience roots for him to come out on top.
The Character Who's Really Straight But....
From the 2000s onwards, gay and lesbian characters began to be a more prominent part of TV shows, and that's as it should be.
Sexuality is a wonderfully copmlex thing and not everyone is or needs to be shown as 100% one way or the other. However, it's become common for a character who is otherwise straight to fall hard for someone of the same sex because that is their one true love.
There are people who fall in love based on personality and not gender, but not everybody, and when it's overused this turns into a stereotype of its own.
Torchwood probably started this trend back in 2005 when, shortly before his death, Ianto declared that he was straight except for Jack.
It's possible that if Ianto had lived, he might have discovered there was more to his sexuality than he thought. Too bad he didn't get that chance. It's fun to think about an alternate future where sexual orientation is about more than whether you're really in love with the person you're with.
Overly Cute Children
Children on television are often either precocious and cute or do things that are inappropriate for their age.
Days of Our Lives has plenty of pre-schoolers and elementary age kids who are perfectly well behaved and never speak. However, before they aged Ciara, she was a spunky, bright kid who often tried to manipulate others and could turn on the charm as needed.
More kids with real personalities, please, and less overgrown toddlers.
Gifted But Tortured Characters
Some TV dramas center around characters who are extraordinarily good at their jobs but whose personal lives are a mess.
There is something fascinating about someone who can do amazing things in one area of life, particularly if they are helping others, but can't seem to get their act together in the rest of their life.
But is it too much to ask that the character be likeable despite his flaws?
During Season 1, Chicago Med's Will came across as someone who was equal parts whiny and selfish and who was always breaking the rules for the wrong reasons.
Maybe his intentions were good, but he'd be a much more compelling character if this were clear.
Addictions Randomly Acting Up
Addiction issues provide fertile ground for drama.
But some characters fall off the wagon with no warning whatsoever, just because it suits the plot. While addicts may not understand where their addictive behavior comes from, there's always a reason and this kind of random addiction plot does viewers who are suffering in real life a disservicce.
Days of Our Lives keeps doing this, but even worse was when Rollins fell off the wagon in SVU.
Rollins at least had a reason for returning to her addictive behavior, but it was a crazy one, and the things she did while in the throes of her addiction were over the top.
It was entertaining but not at all realistic. There's enough drama in people self-destructing without exaggerating.