The Talk: Drama Tropes & Themes

We saw these twists and turns coming a mile away.


You know that phrase, “If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all”? We hate to admit it, but this is probably the most apt description for dramas. Most of the dramas produced nowadays follow a pretty generic formula that is duplicated to no ends. But despite the tired tropes, themes, and cliches that every drama fan can predict/recite three episodes prior to it happening onscreen, there’s an undeniable familiarity and comfort in knowing what’s coming. After all, there’s gotta be a reason that we all keep on tuning in, right? Love ’em or hate ’em, these stereotypical drama tropes are staples to a good, classic drama.

What are the classic drama tropes or themes you enjoy seeing in dramas? What about the ones that you hate?

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Anna: Even though I’m quite picky with romcom dramas, I just can’t seem to say no to the good ol’ “poor girl meets rich boy” plotline. Nothing draws me in faster to a drama than a chaebol/heir played by a charming, handsome actor. Because this story has been told SO many times, I can usually predict some of what’s going to happen…by the episode. Trust me, that’s not something I’m exactly proud of. But I do very much enjoy knowing for a fact that there will be cohabitation by the OTP and a vacation or company excursion at some point when the chaebol plot is used. And yes, the company excursion is the best episode of any romcom drama. C’mon, who’s with me?

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Keeping with the romcom genre, I hate when OTPs would split up two episodes before the end of the drama because of some dumb, completely avoidable reason only to be reunited “three months to 1 year later.” If they wanted to inject some heartbreak into the story, maybe don’t do it so close to the end. It’s not like we don’t know they’ll get back together by the finale. And I’m okay with using birth secrets as a source of drama and tension…just not when they mean the male and female leads are actually siblings (biological or not). Ugh, why. That just makes things weird for everyone.

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Estelle: Like Anna, I’m also a sucker for those chaebol plot lines no matter how unrealistic and shallow they are, but what gets me every time is when the cohabitation starts. There are just that many more opportunities for really ridiculous arguments, deep late night chats about parent issues and accidental intimacy. Okay, that last bit makes me sound like a total perv, but chances are nothing beyond a kiss or two happens anyway. And how best to foster a relationship between two people who would never otherwise cross path than to come up with some ridiculously situation where they must live together? Albeit it’s super contrived and every bit roll-your-eye silly, but it gets its job done!

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The one I hate the most though is definitely the evil mom plot. I mean, c’mon, it just so happens that every eligible bachelor must have a mom who is bent on destroying his happiness? What kind of mother is that? Plus, why do these moms always have some sort of vendetta against our main girl? Just step aside and let love win yo!

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Let’s be real here and give us your takes on:

What is your favorite classic drama trope/theme that never fails? What is the one you hate, but they continue to include in seemingly every drama?

Tweet us your answers @annaandestelle (#talkforreal) or sound off below!

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7 thoughts on “The Talk: Drama Tropes & Themes

  1. coffeenlucia says:

    Nice post, Anna and Estelle!

    First aid kit scene pops up a lot in dramas lately. One of the leads trips and falls, and the other puts a band-aid on them. I don’t mind the trope, but sometimes I wonder if the scriptwriters couldn’t think of less contrived scenes.

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  2. Yes – I hate the random separation at the end! It almost never makes any sense to me – very rarely do I feel it fits the plot and needs of the characters. And I get tired of the evil other girl doing everything she can to break up the OTP because she wants the guy.

    I definitely tend to love cohabitation hijinks. And I often like the trope where the guy starts out all gruff and grumpy and the girl thaws him. But my # 1 favorite that always makes me swoon is when the guy falls but for whatever reason can’t make a move and so pines after the girl while trying to show his feelings in tiny little ways. (Down With Love, Vineyard Man, Brilliant Legacy) Mostly because I love the intense chemistry/tension. So I like when they finally do get together to enjoy the cuteness for a while but I don’t like them to get together too early or all the tension diffuses (Refresh Man, Oh My Venus)

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    • Yaasss, the OTP tension is everything! Like you, I also love those times when the male lead likes the girl, but refuses to tell her. And when she goes on a date with the second male lead (always lol), he gets all jealous and acts out. Normally, I’d find that behavior very unattractive in a guy, but never in dramaworld…haha.

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  3. unforgetableme says:

    To be honest, I actually like the separation at the end and then getting back together… I have not idea why, but I guess I’m just okay with it. LOL.

    I actually do not like the rich guy/poor girl scenario. I’m just not too fond of it at all and I tend to stay away from those kinds of dramas. HOWEVER, I am actually quite fond of rich girl/poor guy dramas. This is because I find them adorable and hard to resist. HAHAHA. I’m such a hypocrite.

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  4. nellebean says:

    Besides what was already mentioned (hate the end of series year long time skip, love cohabitation plots), the other trope that always makes me laugh/roll my eyes is 12 hour rain flu. You know, when one half of our OTP gets their hair wet and falls desperately ill/unconscious so that the other half of the OTP must stay by their bedside overnight with a towel and a humidifier so that the first half doesn’t, I don’t know, die from fever? Love that. All the best bonding occurs when someone is passed out with fever.

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