The “Divorced Installment” Trope and How It Went Wrong

As most of you probably know, I used to be a troper. In fact, I’ve submitted like five articles to the wiki itself. Not much, but… whatever.

One of those five was this trope, the “Divorced Installment.” And reading its page again, it’s probably one of my first experiences with creator’s remorse, where I regret making something.

Or at least the form it came out in.

Just look at how the trope is defined. For clarity I decide to instead define it by what it isn’t, because back then I didn’t know how to word things and was concerned with people understanding it (which, on TV Tropes, is a legitimate problem), but reality I could probably have just said “This is when a work was part of a series originally but is rewritten to have all evidence of its original franchise removed. Often done for the sake of turning a continuation or even a fanfic into an original story, though there are rare cases where the work is divorced from one franchise in order to become a Dolled-Up Installment of another!”

Nevertheless, the way its written gets the point across… at least, the first two bullet points do. Then you get to the third one:

* With some exceptions, this trope is not about an idea changing into a completely different idea during the creative process. The only exception is if an idea started out as an installment of a franchise and turned into either something original, or an installment of a completely different franchise. If an author starts out writing a story about cats but it ends up being about cyborgs, it’s not this trope. But if an author starts out writing a Sherlock Holmes book and winds up turning it into something original, it is this trope. If he starts out writing Sherlock Holmes and then turns it into a James Bond book, it is also this trope. Yes, this trope can overlap with Dolled-Up Installment, and often does—see the examples.

If I could travel back to see my younger self when I was writing this, I would point out how absolutely balls ridiculous this reads. Why is this even here?

Well, being the author, I know exactly why: It’s because I felt pressured to pander to the tropers. See, when you submit a new trope, it goes through a “discussion” phase (at least it did back then, I don’t know about now) where people basically give it a trial run and see if they’ll be able to come up with examples and make something out of it.

During the discussion phase, a lot of examples were things such as “Van Damme’s Cyborg was originally going to be a Masters of the Universe sequel” (which you’ll notice actually made it to the trope page), which aren’t really what I thought the trope should be about. I was more looking for instances where a Ranma 1/2 game that was released in Japan gets turned into a no-name brawler when its released in the USA, because I thought that kind of stuff was interesting.

And I made that clear during the discussion phase.

But the response I got was basically them whining that “It’s too hard to think of examples if you limit it like that!”

Since thi was when I still thought of Tropers as “my friends,” I gave in, and added that third bit.

And now the trope is basically broken in half, with some examples being genuine divorcees (IE works of fiction that were actually published and released originally as part of an established franchise in one location but were turned into unrelated works in another region) but the majority of them basically amount to “During the drafting phase, some creator considered making this an installment of Franchise X before deciding not to,” which I feel should have its own category (in fact, it basically does–that kind of thing is called “Serial Numbers Filed Off” or something like that). But if course if I were to suggest that, I’d probably get all sorts of bawwing and crying over change (just like how a lot of tropers still use those annoying Japanese terms that don’t make sense or insist on using dead terms like “Spikeification”).

Thus, I gave the world a broken trope. And I really wish I could undo it.

Live and learn.

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About Moe Dantes

Jispy Moe Dantes, man of adventure! Though unfortunately bad at keeping to schedules due to constant mood swings, at his best he's a very enthusiastic seeker of new things to learn and new challenges to overcome. He also talks a lot. His home base on the web is his Wordpress blog at jispylicious.wordpress.com
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