10 Annoying Movie Tropes You Can't Un-See

A villain could win? Throw the hero across the room instead.

terminator salvation
Warner Bros.

Trope, tropes, tropes - the bane of every cinephile's experience, making pictures predictable and brutalising our suspension of disbelief all in the name of quick and easy filmmaking. In short, a movie trope is a common convention, image, situation or setup that has been used across many films, often ad nauseam.

That is not to say tropes don't have their place. They can be of great use in cinema, providing a shortcut to action, drama or plot that otherwise might take many more manoeuvres (and, once upon a time, rolls of film) to achieve.

They can also heighten the emotions, tugging on heartstrings, upping the tension and establishing conflicting character dynamics in order to deliver tears, thrills and scares to the audience. On a technical level, they can even serve as a useful way to set up and control shots.

But, more often than not, this isn't a positive thing. By nature, tropes can be cheap, predictable and clichéd, and once you notice them they can be difficult to forget.

Prepare to have all your favourite films dragged out into the harsh light of day and beaten around the head with their own devices, as we delve into the most prevalent and downright irritating movie tropes.

10. Glasses = Nerd

Time and again, there is an accessory that seems to be the single irredeemable quality of any aspiring looker, stopping our heroes and heroines getting what they want, need and deserve:


So many films attribute "nerdiness" and all its powers (ugliness, social incompetency, introversion) to a pair of specs. Our hero or heroine removes the offending article and suddenly they are transformed, unrecognisable to their friends and enemies (see also: 'Clark Kenting'), capable of wooing the hottie and winning the approval of their peers.

If this seems cheap, it's because it is.

The trope substitutes real character development for a quick accessory change - as if the world hasn't been saved and the love interest hasn't been won countless times from behind a pair of lenses (Harry Potter's circular bad boys, for one).

You won't have to look far to see the specs go flying, but this trope was especially popular in the early noughties, appearing in The Princess Diaries (2001), Scooby Doo (2002) and even Sam Raimi's Spider-Man (2002).

It is also dutifully spoofed in 2001's Not Another Teen Movie, which only goes to show how long this trope has been doing the rounds.


Writer, editor and lifelong critic of test screenings, money men and films-by-committee. Currently seeking representation for his transgressive, class-conscious coming-of-age novel Everbloom.