A site that catalogs the different tricks and plot devices used in writing fiction.
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TV Tropes is a wiki (that doesn't use MediaWiki) that focuses on recurring plot devices and character archetypes in fiction. The site has a page for all of these, beginning with a few paragraphs that explain it in the most casual way possible then a list of every example anyone can think of. Users first submit something they think is a trope that hasn't been listed to "You Know, That Thing Where" where other users agree that they do know that thing where, and the article is shoved up on the mainspace and the editors hope that Wiki Magic will take care of it.
The site has a massive forum to back it up, and is home to the Wild Mass Guessing section where fans of something vomit every single possibility for something they can think of regardless of possibility or plausibility. The site also has the shoot-offs DarthWiki (negativity and pessimism about tropes and shows) and SugarWiki (happiness and rainbows about tropes and shows).
Nearly every trope used to have a corresponding Troper Tales page, where people could talk about how a certain trope has "happened" to them in real life, or an It Just Bugs Me page where people would complain about the trope/show as much as they could. The last two caused many problems, as many Tropers did and does still not appear to have any problems sharing highly embarrassing and self-delusional stories with the rest of the Internet. At first this caused the deletion and subsequent salting of a bunch of Troper Tales pages and a couple of IJBM pages, but later the wiki's owner, Fast Eddie, renarmed IJBM to "Headscratchers" hoping that the name would invite less complaining (the success of this act has so far been limited), and outright "deleted" the Troper Tales section after a 2:1 vote from the tropers in favor of its deletion. That is to say that he really did not get rid of it, but rather moved it to another namespace and renamed it to "Article Talk" instead. It seems to have worked in the long run, though, with a separate Troper Tales Wiki being created to keep this sort of thing off TV Tropes. Not long afterward, the "Fetish Fuel" namespace (basically Troper Tales, but sexual) was also removed, prompting yet another spinoff wiki.
The site's main guideline is "There Is No Such Thing As Notability", which, on the upside, encourages the adding of works that would normally be rejected by Wikipedia for not living up to the demand for sources and other such criteria. On the downside, it also makes it hard to perform effective quality control on the site, and allows all kinds of Internet uses with overinflated egos to use the site as free promotion for their often less-than-average webcomics and fanfics.
Community-wise, TV Tropes has slowly devolved from a group of somewhat self-aware geeks with a bad sense of humor into a large collection of painfully self-unaware geeks with varying degrees of anti-social attitudes who treat the the forums as one giant happy place where they are shielded from the norms of society. Any kind of criticism or negativity, no matter how justified, is almost universally branded "trolling" and "mean," and anyone will be accepted on TV Tropes as long as they engage in any of this. In fact, calling users who blatantly admit that they want to have sex with the underage characters from their favorite shows pedophiles will have the forum users crying "persecution" at the top of their lungs, branding you a "bigot" before you are moderated silently away. In 2012, the admins removed the link to the forum from the wiki header, citing its negative reputation and newbie-unfriendly atmosphere. Also in 2012, TV Tropes also has been engaging in a great purge of any and all pages that are related to pedophilia, such as taking down the page of Lolita, not out of any moral engagement, but because it finally began interfering with ad revenue since this has been a growing problem since the site was created.
Lots of the tropes have become common slang on the internet, or at least certain places on the internet.
Fast Eddie and Gus used to hang around Buffy the Vampire Slayer forums, where they'd throw around terms like "Maiden in Distress trope". Eventually, users thought there should be a big list of recurring tropes/plot devices/common tricks and cliches that appear in TV somewhere. Fast Eddie hosted the site on his own computer with the first trope Gilligan Cut, but had to find other hosts when massive traffic came to them via Boing Boing.
TV Tropes is still around and has a reputation as one of the most addictive sites on the internet, because whenever someone visits, they look at one trope, open other tropes they'll need to know in another tab and do the same thing for those tropes too until they're there forever.
- It was established in 2004.
- In 2009, translations of the site into other languages have been made.
- It will ruin your life.
Trope-tan, the moe anthropomorphism of TV Tropes.