Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite/Least Favourite Book Tropes

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and Bookish and hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl where we get a new topic for a top 10 list.

We all have our guilty pleasures and in bookish terms, those come from unapologetically embracing even the most cliche of tropes. A trope basically equates to an occurring theme/plot device, and while some tropes get my heart pumping, others are rage-inducing. Here are some of my favourite and least favourite tropes.

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Favourite Tropes

Friends to lovers: Let’s kick things off with a bit of romance. There are many reasons why I love this trope, but what I love is how the romantic relationship is built on the friendship that they had already established. It adds a layer of depth and history to the relationship and the development of the relationship from friends to more just seems like a natural progression.Β 

Enemies to lovers: If you want to get the sparks flying then grab a book that turns enemies to lovers. I know that this trope divides a lot of the community, but I am proud to back this trope. What’s so great about the enemies to lovers trope is it encourages communication as the perception of the enemy is changed when they communicate their thoughts, feelings, and actions with one another. It also allows for a tantalising build-up to the moment they finally give in to their feelings. The only exception to this trope is when the enemy’s actions cross into the line of unacceptable.

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Redemption Arcs: Some may say that this trope is overused nowadays, but you cannot deny that redemptions arcs give a richness to the character. Redemption arcs should never be used as a means of justifying their previous evil actions, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t see the error of their ways and work towards bettering themselves because of it.

Morally Ambiguous Characters: Again, this has become a popular trope, but I love it when a character teeters on the grey line. It makes you really question your own moral limits as some actions are quite despicable, but forces you to think of the grander scheme and the consequences that would befall had they not followed that path, the Six of Crows crew being a prime example. Each character commits various morally ambiguous actions, but we still root for them and can understand the reasoning behind such acts. Still, it makes you question their choices and really delves into the complexity of the characters.

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Journeys/Quests: I love a journey or a good quest. It allows so much space for character growth in both contemporary and fantasy novels. These journeys often push our characters to their limits, but also offers a chance for them to broaden their horizons, gain perspective, and challenge their innermost demons.

Least Favourite Tropes

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Love Triangles: Do I even have to go into detail about this one? Love triangles just need to stop. No one looks good in a love triangle and more often than not the triangle overshadows the more compelling elements in the story.

The Chosen One: Now, this is more to do with the chosen one that suddenly finds themselves with an abundance of power they don’t know how to use and yet suddenly overcomes any challenge they face with said power. The chosen one always feels like they’re placed on a pedestal, meaning they can get away with anything because they had to. Let’s be real, these chosen ones would never get to where they’re going without their allies. They’re the real heroes for putting up with their woe is me, I was chosen, I am an unstoppable hero of a friend.

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Absent parents: Look, parents might be a hindrance to your story, but if you kill the parents or make them absent solely because it’s easier then you are wrong. This trope is relevant to both fantasy and contemporary novels, and I really think authors miss out on exploring the complex dynamic between parents and their children, especially when said child is mixed up in something they don’t understand. Having the parents present in books allows for additional growth and understanding between both the protagonist and the parent in question, so I would happily get rid of this absent parent trope.

Love Cures All: Love did not save you, you saved you. There is nothing more frustrating than the love cures all trope. Love might help, it can be a comfort, but it doesn’t heal all wounds. It’s the character themselves that have to make the decision to “save” themselves. I think it’s unhealthy to place so much of an emphasis on love being the cure to everything when we know that deep down there’s a bigger root. I’m not saying that love doesn’t have an impact and having that support system based on love, romantic or platonic, is important, but it is not the saviour.

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Villain with no motive: A villain without a motive is just dull. It doesn’t add any substance to the story is your primary villain is just evil for the sake of it. There has to be a reason, a motive, something that drives. Every villain is the hero of their own story, but what kind of story would it be if they just woke up one day and decided to be evil. A villain without motive kills the tension in the story because their actions are just hollow.

What are your favourite / least favourite tropes?


35 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite/Least Favourite Book Tropes

  1. Nice post! I agree with many things. The villian with no motive is also on my list of least favourite tropes. I just don’t want villains who are pure evil. And the love cures all trope is absolutely terrible! It is indeed unhealthy to expect so much from a significant other.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The first three you mentioned for favs are ones I DO enjoy … I’m just REALLY picky about them. I just sometimes find they don’t work well or authors don’t write them properly. However, I’m always up for Morally Ambiguous Characters!!! I find these types of characters MUCH more relatable, since no one is PERFECTLY good or PERFECTLY evil. And the quest trope? LOVE! Always up for a good quest or adventure story!

    Now … for the unfavourable ones. I completely agree … LOVE TRIANGLES NEED TO STOP! They are annoying and unnecessary …. it drives me nutty. The Chosen One? I have to agree. I do like it, BUT I don’t like when it allows for a character to just do anything or when they just RANDOMLY have this power. I love how Rowling performed this trope, but I find it isn’t done properly for the most part. For instance, I HATE how Ray in Star Wars Episode VII just MAGICALLY has these awesome powers. I know she’s a “Chosen One”, but so is Kylo Ren (however you spell his name) and he’s had years of training … i actually said under my breath “you gotta me joking me” in theaters lol!

    Villains with no motive is blah. Even the Joker has a motive (usually just to see the world burn because he’s crazy, but I love it). And love cures all? Let me just go barf … uuuuugh. There are reasons people have skewed ideas of love … and THIS is one of them.

    Absent parents is … I unno. Sometimes I like it and sometimes I don’t. I prefer when it’s one parent actually, since I find that interesting.

    Great post and I’m SO SORRY for my long comment … I just really liked this post lol!


    1. I can see why you’d be picky with the first three tropes. When written well I’ll completely throw myself into it, but if it’s forced I’ll immediately check out.


      OMG YES! Ray is the epitome of the chosen one syndrome. It frustrated me so much that she was able to control her powers so fast. It so unrealistic.

      The Joker is the definition of a villain so unhinged and unpredictable that his random but calculated acts of violence are always so engaging and shocking.

      I do love the single parent trope. It makes the dynamic a little more complex from the parents standpoint cause they have to act as both parents while working through their own grief or confusions. It’s such a fascinating dynamic.

      Thank you so much for you comments. πŸ’š

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      1. I knoooooooooow! I’ve had SO many disputes about the Ray thing … and I’m probably the biggest Star Wars lover out of MOST of my friends! It DOESN’T MAKE SENSE! Even LUKE is a legendary jedi and he ALSO took a long time to figure it all out. i don’t MIND that she suddenly realized her powers … but I don’t like how she kicked Kylo Ren’s butt because … really, that shouldn’t have happened yet.

        I agree with the Joker. The unhinged and insane villain type is difficult to do, since they tend to have no motive and it makes them boring. But the Joker just works. He’s insanity and desire for complete and utter chaos is fantastic.

        Thank you for replying to my GIGANTIC comment ha-ha!


  3. I’m a huge fan of the enemies to lover trope, too, and I can’t get enough of morally ambiguous characters! They’re the best. I mean, people in generally are morally ambiguous, so why shouldn’t our characters be, too? Villains with no motives have the potential of ruining a perfectly good book for me. If they’re a villain Just Because, it drives me crazy. There’s always a reason, even if it’s a lousy one, like Steve ate my yogurt five days in a row so I threw him out a window. OK, sure, overreaction, but hey, at least there’s a cause and effect there. xD

    Here’s my TTT post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Morally ambiguous characters are basically the most faithful representation of humanity.

      Haha that example of a villain motive is pure brilliance and it might be an overreaction but at least you can pin point the moment that took him down this villainous path.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. friends to lovers i completely agree with. it’s a trope i love and i wish i could see more often, especially in YA books. i feel like the popularity of enemies to lovers kinda overshadows it, but i think relationships that start off as friends just sound so much more promising to me? as much as enemies to lovers can be exciting and angsty, i hardly ever can imagine these couples actually lasting for a long time, but i feel the trust that is built in friendship allows a couple to last longer. or so they say, hahah.
    recently, i re-read i’ll give you the sun and man do i wish every single morally grey character was written like that. i feel like this trope is overused to justify bad boys with a good soul, which is another one of my least favorite tropes, but i do love when characters are well written and do bad things but in name of emotions that we can all relate, such as anger and jealousy. we all have done questionable things in the past, so i do think characters who were morally grey were written more in this way and exploring the complexity of their personalities rather than just following guys with leather jackets and a bad attitude but that are nice and charming beneath it all.
    villains with no motives are SO annoying. and this includes villains with bad motives too! i think it’s quite hard to write a well-written villain and i completely agree how it kills the tension of the story.

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    1. I think people love the tension in the enemies to lovers trope, but you are so right in saying that in terms of longevity and happily ever after a the friends to lovers is more likely to last because the connection between them has the benefit of longevity and depth.

      I’ll Give You the Sun is the perfect example of morally ambiguous characters and I so agree that this trope should be used as a way to explore a characters humanity and complexity instead of justifying the moody broody trope.

      If I’m going to invest in a story then I need to believe that the threat is real and menacing and it’s so hard to do that when a villain has no motive.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Friends-to-lovers is a favorite of mine, and one I highlighted this week. Seeing a strong relationship turn into a romantic relationship just makes me happy, and I always feel like those will be the pairings that survive, because of their friendship and history.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. YES to your favourites! I am 100% trash for these tropes. As for least favourites OH MY GOD. Here’s my fifty page essay on why VILLAINS WITH NO MOTIVES are the freaking worst and why that trope should die IMMEDIATELY because NOPE. Make it stop. I’d rather suffer through the same, most rambling, cliche, boring “this is why I’m a villain hear me roar” speech for the rest of my life than a cardboard cut out saying “I have bads.” or something haha

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Agree with a lot of this!! I particularly love morally ambiguous characters, enemies to lovers and redemption arcs πŸ˜€ I also don’t like most love triangles and chosen ones. Villains with no motive are very dull and I can’t stand the love cures all trope.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. 100% agree with all of the tropes you are not a fan of.

    Love triangles just make me roll my eyes at this point.

    Absent parents in YA are so prevalent. Like you said, the author is really missing out on adding an important element to the main character’s story.

    Love cures all is probably the one off this list that annoys me the most. If all the character’s problems disappear when they get a boyfriend/girlfriend, I cringe. I feel like YA contemporary is very guilty of this.

    Villain without a motive OR just an underdeveloped villain is another big annoyance.


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