If you have watched movies, particularly Hollywood films over time you have probably noticed similar plot points in different genres. When repeated often enough, they become clichés. Such clichés become a crutch for writers who do not challenge themselves enough to come up with a new plot point or situation.
For screenwriters who are just starting out, what follows are some cliché moments in screenplays that you should recognize and avoid when writing a script for television or film.
The Single Punch Knockout
One blow to the head is enough to render anyone unconscious. It’s become more than a cliché it is a tradition in action movies. Plus, when the person wakes up, they suffer no consequences from the obvious concussion they have suffered.
Dogs Rarely Die
Particularly in disaster films, humans are killed with impunity, but the dog somehow makes it through. If a race of extraterrestrials watched Hollywood disaster films, they would conclude the dogs are virtually invulnerable.
The Double Nightmare
A character wakes up from a scary dream only to discover that they are in yet another nightmare. It happens in several different genres to show the state of the hero’s mind.
All bombs have large, easily readable timers to let audiences know just how long before they explode.
A detective gets suspended while on the case, yet they defy orders and catch the criminal anyway. And yet somehow their punishment for defying orders is a light slap on the wrist.
Shoot at a vehicle or drive a car off a cliff and it will explode. Sometimes even before the car hits the ground.
When enemy soldiers or henchmen cannot hit the broad side of a barn. For example, most movies in the Star Wars franchise.
The car ignition always works until it’s really needed, then it takes time to turn the engine over.
The hero is often a retired cop or soldier who is seemingly too young to actually be retired.
When two people meet under unusual circumstances and fall in love.
The battery on a smartphone or flashlight fades out just when it is needed the most.
Walking Away from Explosions
The unfazed hero calmly walking away from an explosion, despite the deafening noise and impact.
Stay Behind, Don’t Stay Behind
When one character tells the other to stay back, they never stay back. Then they save the day while the hero chews them out for not staying back.
Ever notice that most henchmen never say a word? That’s because the studio would have to pay them more if they did.
Buddy movies in which one is a cop and one is a crook for example. In other words, they are opposites thus the made-up word “wunza”.
These are just some of the many clichés that fill movies. By recognizing them, you can find different ways for your characters to act. This avoids lazy screenwriting and makes your work more compelling when it finally reaches the television or movie screen.