YA Trope Master List

Blog Features & Headers (1).pngI reached out in the YA Bloggers Group for some Tropes that we are all sick of. Here is a list so far. Please, feel free to add to this in the comments.

I’m hoping to head to residency with a nice long list. So without further ado, and in no particular order, here is the list thus far:


  1. Unqualified protagonist succeeds over overly qualified antagonist/supporting character
  2. Overly simple characterization
  3. Love Triangles
  4. Gullible Martyrs
  5. Unambiguously bad bad guy
  6. Obscure prologues used to garner interest in a story that is otherwise flat
  7. pretty girls who don’t think they’re pretty
  8. the othering of feminine past times
  9. inst-love/love at first sight/love without build up
  10. Stockholm romance
  11. Mr. Tall-dark-and-perfect
  12. Brooding bad boy love interest
  13. Royal Realization: what’s that? you who match the description and age perfectly for the long lost princes are–in fact–THE long lost princess? *gasp*
  14. instant mastery over undiscovered powers
  15. undiscovered powers, who did you get through life without even suspecting?
  16. dead parents
  17. alcoholic parents
  18. otherwise absentee parents
  19. Trilogies
  21. Checkov’s blatantly smoking gun that no one else seems to realize except the reader
  22. The MC being kept kept from their own history by friends/family (like knowing Harry is a horcrux)
  23. weird names are for high fantasy & and high sci-fi and even then, not so much
  24. Forced/justified attractiveness over true description. ie no more “He’s the kind of good looking that physically aches.’ (Snow Like Ashes)
  25. Uniqueness does not equal Value. Heroes are heroes because of their actions not because they have pink hair and/or magic
  26. switching POV: if you are going to switch your characters need to sound different and contribute their own information to the story
  27. slaps in suspension of disbelief:
    1. plotholes
    2. tropes
    3. crap world building
    4. info dumping
    5. Β anyone believing the protagonist on try #1
  28. Mary Sue/Gary Stu
  29. Characters who are just tough by existing. Show us through action.
  30. Teened down dialogue. (Which has been accompanied by “We don’t talk like that!” and “No one talks like that!”)
  31. Female characters obsessed with classic literature
  32. being fixed by a love interest
  33. angst
  34. in order to seem “fierce” and “warrior-like” girls have to hate dresses and things that people deem “girly”
  35. can’t people just like what they like? Why labels? D: Used to see this so much in the fantasy novels.
  36. The pretty, rich, mean girl cheerleader that is EVILLLLLLLLLLLLL (of course, usually a fake blonde).
  37. Texting done wrong
  38. Complete and utter lack of diversity. One non-white character does not make your work diverse.
  39. The “I’m not like other girls” trope. Like, what’s wrong with girls?
  40. Lack of female friendship. I see this a lot in fantasy but in contemporary too, where the protagonist has a million friends who are boys, but no girl friends. Drives me up the wall, because girl friends are the best thing in the world!
  41. When the unqualified protagonist who just discovered a fantasy world acts as if they know everything about it and ignores qualified characters (think Clary in the Shadowhunters TV series, not book series). I don’t know if this is a trope, but I notice it a lot.
  42. Unnecessary romance: think SJM and how every single one of her characters has to be in a relationship despite the relationship doing nothing for the actual plot.
  43. When the girl is a virgin but the guy has all this experience.
  44. WHEN THE FEMALE CHARACTER BITES HER LIP AND THE MALE CHARACTER IS OBSESSED WITH THAT. (I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve bitten my lip and no guys have been into that.)
  45. When a mentally ill or disabled character is “fixed” by a love interest. Just, no.
  46. Lack of diversity – there’s a million characters in the story and all are white/straight, and then the author adds them and then they’re killed off.
  47. Rory Gilmore-esque characters. Some of us play sports.
  48. No physically or intellectually handicapped characters unless they’re sidekicks, little brothers, or underdogs. Make them MCs!
  49. Dead mothers, specifically.

By J. M. Tuckerman

J.M.Tuckerman is a neurodivergent writer with a big education. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, an MA in Writing, and a BA in Writing Arts (specializing in Creative Writing, New Media Writing, and Publication; concentrating in New Media Production), which she somehow managed to earn despite her three very loud and large dogs. Jessica was lucky enough to intern at Quirk Books and Picador, USA while earning her master’s degrees. Her service dog, Ringo, is very proud of all that she has accomplished and hopes to be on a back cover of a published book with her very soon. An avid reader, writer, and lover of young adult and middle-grade literature, Jessica’s bookshelf is overflowing with hardbacks, paperbacks, and a million half-filled notebooks. She is a proud fur-mommy to two lab/st-bernard littermates, a retriever-mix service dog, and one orange little hobgoblin cat, all of whom have made very audible appearances on the Booked All Night podcast.

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