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10 Overused Tropes In Sci-Fi TV Shows (According To Reddit)

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The sci-fi genre has been a popular genre for television shows to explore in recent years. Shows like Westworld and Love, Death + Robots have done a lot to keep the audience’s attention with their sci-fi action and mechanics, keeping the genre alive and thriving.

With any genre, there comes multiple tropes that showrunners and movie makers like to whip out to keep the story moving, and sci-fi is no different. However, Redditors have noticed that many of these tropes have been used so much that they are getting old.


Strange Sightings Not Discussed

Sci-Fi is no stranger to abnormal and supernatural sightings, so much so that it should be obvious that the characters that witness these events should talk about them. And yet, they don’t.

Related: 10 Best Sci-Fi TV Shows Of All Time, According To IMDb

Most of the time, people in Sci-Fi shows that see these strange sights are unwilling to talk about them with others. As Elephlump points out, most of the time they keep what they’ve seen to themselves because “No one will believe me!” They think that no one would believe what they’ve seen, even when they or their friends have already experienced strange things before. A key example of this is Eddie in Stranger Thingswho runs away after witnessing a supernatural death, thinking that no one will believe his story due to his “outcast” status.

Time Travel

Time travel has been used a lot lately from everything from TV shows like QuantumLeap to some really great anime. This constant use, however, means that this trope is one of the most used in sci-fi history.

Time travel is often used to fix problems in the past or bring characters back, making their deaths less meaningful. When things go bad in sci-fi shows, the characters often whip out various time travel devices or concepts to go back in time and reverse everything, which can be seen as lazy and poor writing. This trope is even worse when it’s simply used to reverse things and is not the focus of the show. As caskey comments, “If your story has time travel but isn’t about time travel, you most likely have as*** story.”

Monolithic Planets

It’s no surprise that most sci-fi shows involve going to other planets, with many of the best planets coming from franchises like Star Wars. But what people have noticed is that all these planets seem to all be monolithic.

Whether it be culture, climate, or geology, most alien worlds in sci-fi shows, especially shows like star trek, only seem to have one of all of them. There’s no variety of cultures or various different climates on the planet – at least none that the audience sees. While this is a trope that’s used many times, acmaleson does acknowledge that “recreating the immense complexity of earth and its inhabitants is impossible in a literal sense.”

Long Lost Relatives Returning

The return of long-lost relative to the characters is a trope that’s mostly used in soap operas, mostly to add a surprise twist or shock the audience. But it’s used a lot in sci-fi as well, including star trek discovery.

However, with sci-fi, this trope makes even less sense. It is, after all, a big galaxy, and the likelihood of running into a relative that the characters didn’t know they had in the first place is highly improbable. “It always makes your world feel small,” comments Redditor grandmofftalkin. And in a show where, for the most part, the characters have an entire galaxy to run around in, that’s something that shouldn’t be the case.

Scientists Can Fix Everything

Scientists are in plentiful supply in sci-fi shows, which leads to the common trope of the scientist being able to fix any problem the characters come across, even if they are out of their field of study.

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Different scientists specialize in different fields of study, meaning that they wouldn’t all be able to solve every last problem that the characters happen to stumble across. And then, whenever the scientist complains that whatever task he/she has to do can’t be done, they are still forced to do it by the main character, because, as UltraMegaMegaMan mocks, “The silly brainiac types just don’t want it enough, or are just being lazy.” This happens multiple times in Stargate Atlantiswhere the character McKay manages to solve every problem, sometimes at the last minute.

Technology Leads To Dystopia

Sci-Fi always seems to have some sort of advanced technology, which seems to almost always lead to some sort cataclysmic event that turns the world into a dystopian wasteland. Some sci-fi dystopias aren’t so bad, but others are awful – and most always come about due to technology.

The Terminator franchise is a big example of this trope. It just seems that most sci-fi shows like to give out warnings that technology is bad and the more it advances, the more danger humans put themselves in of destroying themselves with their own technology. “The blithe assumption that high tech itself will lead to dystopia makes me cringe,” complains cr0ft about the subject, as any real-world scenario would surely be more complex and nuanced.

Evil AI/Robots

Though evil AI is mostly in movies, there are some cases of this trope in TV, such as in Battlestar Galactica. However, this just makes it an even more overused trope.

Having evil robots running around sci-fi shows is cool, but it’s something that’s been done to death all over television and movies. Fans can almost always expect the AI ​​or the robots that are seemingly there to help will turn evil and be a problem for the characters. Redditor Xarthis points out the philosophical progress made for this topic in the past few decades while also adding, “To rehash that topic in the 21st century just shows that the writer lacks imagination.”

Ineffective Armor

Armor is supposed to protect people, yet in sci-fi, it seems that most weapons can easily get through the armor with little effort. Redditor hamsters_concern_me points this out with the obvious question, “Why wear it if it doesn’t stop a pistol round or the slash of a sword or a blaster bolt?”

Related: 10 Best Armor Upgrades In Mass Effect Legendary Edition

Time and time again, we’ve seen various sci-fi soldiers, most notably in shows such as The Mandalorian, gear up in armor ready for war, only for that armor to be completely useless against the weapons used against them. The laser blasts or laser swords cut through the armor like butter, and it doesn’t protect the wearer from explosions either.

Human-Like Aliens

In the early days, when people thought of aliens, they thought of the classic little green or gray men. But now, it seems as though every single alien has to look almost exactly like humans.

Sure, some shows, like those taking place in the star trek gold Star Wars franchises, avoid this, but others, like those in the Stargate franchise, seem to consist solely of human aliens, with very few exceptions. Granted, most of this would be to cut costs on production, but that doesn’t make the trope less overused. “It seems like there’s probably a pretty narrow path to space-faring level intelligence,” Redditor Lampwick notes. And that narrow path seems to always be two-legged, humanoid creatures.

The Chosen One

Chosen ones are common throughout both sci-fi and fantasy, so much so that they have become common in nearly every show. As Barbarake points out, “The whole “Chosen One” trope has been done to death.”

There always has to be some sort of character that’s a fabled hero that’s destined to save the universe from ultimate destruction, like Anakin Skywalker, John Connor, and Avatar Aang. The moment a chosen one appears, audiences know that they will no doubt save the day from the dark evil force coming, usually with little to no effort on their part. And this sort of thing has happened numerous times in sci-fi, seeming to be a good fallback trope for writers to pull out and use.

Next: 10 Best Classic Sci-Fi Movies, According To Reddit