Tropes Of Crime Dramas


Trope is derived from the Greek word tropos meaning the way of doing something; a leaning, a persuasion. In this context it relates to common dramatic devices used to mould crime stories.

Jennifer Dornbush shares some of them:

  • Blow something up. This is always visually exciting and creates immediate danger for the main characters, The explosion doesn’t always need to be literal. It can be emotional such as the moment when the police tell a parent, their child has been killed.
  • Someone dies or a dead body is discovered. This adds severity to the crime, making it even more important for the main character to solve  it. The prospect of death adds suspense and tension to the story.
  • Someone you think is bad turns out to be good or vice versa. These are character reversals and create plot complications because the main character must reassess the case. This causes intrigue because the audience needs to redefine their interpretation of who committed a crime.
  • Someone tries to harm the investigator. This is usually the criminal or someone closely tied to them. Harm is generally caused when the investigator is getting close to solving the crime.
  • An innocent person dies. This creates compassion within the audience because an injustice has been done. It also makes the audience more determined to see the killer caught and brought to justice.
  • Someone goes missing, This escalates the stakes of the crime and adds mystery to a scene. Have they been kidnapped, are they lost or have they deliberately gone in hiding.
  • Evidence goes missing or is compromised. This makes the crime more difficult to solve especially if it’s vital. It’s also important to know who sullied the evidence. Was it deliberate or an accident? Who was responsible? These questions add dimension to scenes.
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