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Science fiction, fantasy, and horror are rife with tropes. A trope can be both an asset or a curse to a story. A well-executed trope can end up a beloved and iconic character that serves as a template and influence generations of stories to follow — think Luke Skywalker, for example. Others become lazy storytelling devices that play into harmful stereotypes often at the expense of women, BIPOC, the LGBTQ+, or disabled communities and the intersections therein. Whichever end of the spectrum they may fall on, these plot devices are worth discussion and reexamination, whether to celebrate the best or bust the worst.
So for the month of August, we are taking a look at some of the most common tropes in genre — some we love, some we loathe, and others we find ourselves curiously drawn to, flaws and all, for reasons we can’t quite explain.