characters · Films · TV · YA Books · YA Films/TV/Books

Cliches: Expectations vs Reality

These are some of the cliches that have appeared in stories and films over the years. Today, we’re going to compare what it would be like as depicted in the fictional story, and how that would translate to the real world.

  1. Falling… onto your lips

This is quite prominent in Korean Dramas, when two people bump into each other and someone falls, somehow their lips just find each other. This device is often used as a catalyst for the blossoming of a love story between the two parties involved.

Expectation: (Scene from the drama Flower Boy Next Door)

Reality: when you trip over, the result tends to look more like this:

2. Prolonged death scene

In the fictional world, more often than not, the character won’t just die in an instant. They’ll have a long drawn out death with spluttering and crying and hand grabbing which is at a serious risk of becoming melodramatic. (Although this can be used for comedic effect.)

Expectation: Plenty of time to pass on your dying wishes, give the hero some motivation, and don’t forget to tell them who killed you and not to blame themselves.

Reality: If you’ve been stabbed in the heart/had your throat cut, you won’t have enough time to manage anything but a gurgle. Even if you have those important last words to say, it’s much more likely the last thing you’ll say will be “please don’t kill me!” And if you were stabbed in a less direct spot (ie. stomach) chances are you’ll pass out before you can pass on that secret message. And you certainly won’t die in the middle of telling someone who your murderer is, conveniently cutting off before you finish saying their name.

3. Evil gloating: The villain tells all. 

In critical moments when tensions are rising between the antagonist and protagonist, an unfortunate cliche is when the villain wastes the opportunity to kill the protagonist by taking the time to reveal all evil plans and only finishing when it clocks that the protagonist has managed to escape. It explains the villains actions without showing them to the reader and gives the protagonist a good easy opportunity to survive.

This is particularly common in spy films, especially the James Bond filmed but has been fantastically parodied in British espionage comedy, Austin Powers.

Expectation: (Skip to 1.05 for the elaborate death plan.)

Reality: You’d never see it coming.

4. The Noble Idiot

One of the most frustrating character tropes in every love story ever (this is particularly true in YA media) is the case of the ‘noble idiot’. This is when the characters try to push their love away, believing that it’s in their best interest even though this is only bringing misery on both parties. Just stand up and fight: 

Expectation: “I’m only going to hurt you if we stay together.” “I’m not good for you.” “I have demons in my past and I don’t want you to get hurt because of it.”

Reality: You’re too caught up in lust and hormones to even care about the consequences of a romance.

5. The faked death/ resurrection plot twist.

The Vampire Diaries, especially TVD, has overused this to the point that no character is really ever dead. They’ll come back one way or another and it really reduces the impact of further deaths as there’s just no credibility anymore. The audience will desensitise themselves in order to cope with the first few shocks and from there it’s easy to just stop caring altogether.


Reality: Dead is dead. There’s no coming back from that. 

There are many other shows guilty of this. Let’s try to think of different ways to make a story exciting shall we?

Love Triangles

Love triangles are everywhere. If you pick up a YA novel without a love triangle, or watch a TV show absent of one, then you’ve found a special snowflake amidst the rush of a desperate need to further romance. We’ve written an article about love triangle in the past, how they can be useful or detrimental and discussed how to make them unique, but chances are it’s a love triangle which consists of two equally attractive guys, special in their own way, and an even more special new-to-town girl.


Reality: One of them is your brother.

Now over to you guys, what other story cliches have you found popping in in books, films and TV shows? How does this correlate with reality?

– Elizabeth & Nadia


3 thoughts on “Cliches: Expectations vs Reality

  1. Haha this is awesome! Korean dramas are just the worst (and the best) when it comes to strange cliches and weird portrayals of reality. Great article, are you currently sharing your writing on any other movie/tv platforms?


    1. We’re glad you enjoyed the article 🙂 We totally agree with your comment about Korean dramas 🙂 Just to clarify, what do you mean by are we sharing our writing on other platforms? We’re currently only writing on this blog at the moment, as we don’t often have as much time to write as we’d like.


      1. No problem. I was just wondering if you guys were sharing it on any other platforms. If you’re up for it, I’d love to help you get your writing seen on Moviepilot/Creators. I’d love to hear from you if you’re interested. You can find my contact details on my ‘About’ page.

        Liked by 1 person

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