Like most consumers of fiction, I occasionally encounter clichés and tropes that aggravate me. Many of these are character types. Characters are important for my enjoyment of a book, show, film etc, so if I have to endure a sympathetic portrayal of any of these tropes it will mar the experience. I'm more tolerant of these types of characters if they're being parodied.

'Adorable' Klutzes

The incompetent are a plague (a view which has been reinforced by my experience doing tech support). Few things make me angrier than someone thoughtlessly fucking shit up, and few things make me more uncomfortable than being around someone who is a potential hazard. So when a clumsy, dense, awkward and/or messy character is depicted as cute and loveable for it, it makes me want to drop-kick them into the centre of the sun. The more 'aww so sweet, you can't help but forgive them' the portrayal, the less mercy I will feel. I find this trope especially annoying in anime, where 'cuteness' tends to be an all-out attack on the senses.

That's not to say that I hate inept characters altogether. I can sympathise with them, especially since I make mistakes all the time. I just prefer for them to be depicted as accountable (and ideally undergo some development where they become more competent). If I'm supposed to be sympathising with a character who isn't good at something, a 'cute' portrayal feels patronising.

'Sassy' Characters

I don't get why these snarky little shits are so beloved by media consumers. I'll watch something and see a character who makes me think 'this twat needs to shut up', and then go online and see hordes of gushing fans saying shit like 'yasss queen, love the attitude, what a bad bitch, [character's name] is such a mood/my spirit animal'. My best guess is that these people either a) are/were high school bullies and hence relate to the character, or b) are cowards who admire the character for doing things they don't have the nerve to do.

I've observed something of a double standard regarding obnoxious characters. If the character is female, or a feminine male, people find them 'sassy' and endearing. If the character is a conventional male, people recognise them as a prick (unless they have the 'bad boy' aesthetic, in which case people are all over them). I consider any character with this kind of personality a menace.


This guy is the embodiment of the 'Chad' written about in every incel manifesto. Despite being a prat who views women as decorations for his arms, he manages to get laid again and again because his looks and confidence let him get away with it. Fortunately, this trope is rare in recent media. Unfortunately, less blatant versions of it (like the 'fuckboy') persist.


This trope is aggravatingly common in anime and is a major reason why I can't stand 90% of the stuff. Anime creators think it's hilarious when a character's main personality trait is being a mong who goes to ridiculous lengths to creep on girls. If the other characters ever call him out on it, it's done in an equally ridiculous and irritating way and no matter how many times he gets screeched at or slapped, he never changes his ways. The animators also make sure to make the girls' tits bounce up and down when the creep startles them, because girls are hot when they don't consent.


Another bullshit anime trope. Tsunderes probably appeal to coomers who don't understand that there's more to interactions between people in a relationship than fetish dynamics. Outside of kinks, the non-stop heckling and belittling that tsunderes do is a massive nuisance that no self-respecting person would put up with. The tsundere concept is also based on ass-backwards ideas like 'she's mean because she likes you' and 'she's a bully but has a heart of gold'.

Nothing Protagonist

This character has no discernible personality because their main purpose is to be 'relatable', i.e. a means for the reader/audience to insert themselves into the story. The character will be described by the creator in vaguely positive terms ('smart', 'brave', etc), but will never really do anything to evidence this description. This is common in YA fiction, because apparently teenagers can't enjoy a story unless they relate to the main character, and can't relate to the main character unless they can convince themselves the main character is just like them.

'Strong' Female Characters

I.e. characters whose personality would be described as 'toxic masculinity' if the sexes were reversed — smug, brash and self-righteous, constantly demonstrating their superiority over their ineffectual opposite-sex colleagues and talking in a mixture of snide put-downs and preachy soundbites. They have no faults (well, at least the writers want to make you think so) and are good at everything without even trying. For instance, despite wearing stilettos and being 5'6" with no muscle definition, they can clobber burly 6'2" baddies.

I hope this trend disappears, and the focus shifts to writing heroines who have complex personalities, worked hard to become strong, and don't fixate on politics or put others down.

Tragic Backstory Excuse

While traumatic experiences are not your responsibility, your subsequent actions are. It really pisses me off when I'm expected to forgive a character for their misdeeds because of 'muh tragic backstory'. Many people have endured trauma and remained upstanding, which shows that it is your choice how you handle it.

'Good Girl' & 'Bad Boy'

Many stories aimed at teenage girls have a 'good girl' as the protagonist. The 'good girl' is quiet, meek, 'nerdy' (which is usually taken to mean 'likes reading'), introverted, and a virgin. (Her characterisation tends to venture into 'nothing protagonist' territory.) She meets a 'bad boy', who is gruff, snarky, and disaffected, and usually has at least two of: leather jacket, piercings, tattoos, motorcycle. She is initially intimidated but intrigued. She then goes on to fall in love with the bad boy, despite his disdainful treatment of her, because he's hot and 'mysterious'.

The bad boy takes a dominant role in their relationship. He is forceful and possessive, and his treatment of the good girl is borderline emotional abuse at best and blatant emotional and physical abuse at worst. This is portrayed as romantic and forgivable because 1) apparently, he actually cares about her and his behaviour is due to his 'dark past', and 2) he gives her an amazing sexual awakening. In some stories, she is so horny for him that she is willing to give up her studious lifestyle and goals. The story tends to culminate with the bad boy telling the good girl that she has made or will make him a better man (despite there being little evidence of this).

Many instances of this trope make the story even worse by giving the good girl an existing boyfriend. He is polite, kind, and dependable, and wants to wait before taking her virginity. The good girl abandons him for the bad boy, even cucking him in some stories, because he is 'boring' and 'too nice'.

I can't think of a more terrible message for girls — the idea that you can 'fix' your partner; putting up with abuse because of attraction; not holding someone accountable because their trauma justifies their wrongs; ditching a caring, compatible partner for an asshole because sex is more important. A less obvious problem with this trope is that the 'good girl' protagonist doesn't undergo any character development, remaining as obsequious as ever now that she has someone to tell her what to do. The fact that most of these stories are written by women is concerning.