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Our Top 10 favorite K-drama tropes

javabeans: It was painful to pick only 10 dramas for the previous list of gateway dramas, but when we decided to write about tropes for this list, I found that it practically wrote itself. (The list, I mean! Not the entries, which were as arduous as ever!)

girlfriday: Yeah this list was particularly fun, because it allowed us to look at dramaland as a whole and talk about our favorite recurring tropes—the things we see time and again across all dramas, that are such a huge part of why we love them in the first place.

javabeans: Tropes are a funny thing, in that they can be wildly exciting when executed well, in a story that moves you, and when they’re done badly they’re the stuff that creates all those Youtube parodies and mocking diatribes about why K-dramas are weird, or cheesy, or dumb.

girlfriday: Yes, totally. That’s why if you only thought of the bad examples, this could easily be the Top 10 Cliches of Dramaland.

javabeans: For the record, I hate those snarky Top 10 Cliche lists, because I always feel like those list-makers don’t even get dramas, or set out to mock them and only pick bad examples. Or maybe I’m just earnest and protective of my babies, even the ugly ones.

girlfriday: Oh I hate mean-spirited snark too. Because for every cliched example out there, there’s a good version, or a hundred, that they left out. The dramas where the trope was sincere and used to great dramatic effect, and made us all cry.

javabeans: Also, I think that it may be entertaining to poke fun at commonly used cliches—I’ll never find a Truck of Doom to not be funny, not by now—it skips over the more interesting flipside of the question, of why we all watch dramas anyway. Why does that dumb-sounding premise get its hook into your heart? And why does the twentieth drama to explore the same concept still manage to get your heart racing and tears flowing?

girlfriday: YES, EXACTLY. This is why we still watch dramas and still love them, no matter how many we’ve seen, because there is an inherent appeal in the way these tropes are used—sometimes with great creativity—to set up a love story, or to complicate it, or to make it sweeping and epic. If you’ve seen a drama (or ten thousand), these will be familiar to you.

 

1. Crossdressing

javabeans: Crossdressing—particularly in the woman-as-man iteration—is so frequently featured in dramaland that a newcomer might find the fixation strange, or at least disproportionate to the rest of the world. But it’s not for nuthin’ that it’s also frequently featured in the dramas on many a favorites list (see: Coffee Prince, Sungkyunkwan Scandal, You’re Beautiful, Moonlight Drawn By Clouds).

What crossdressing in K-dramas accomplishes so well is in addressing one of the heart’s most earnest desires: to be loved wholly and unconditionally for who you are, as you are. I don’t mean that crossdressing results in a truer love than others, but as a narrative device, it’s a wonderful way to cut to the heart of what draws two people together. When the hero of Coffee Prince decides that he’ll love the heroine “whether you’re a man or an alien,” it becomes the ultimate declaration that she is what matters most, not her appearance or gender or place in the world. In a society that is still overwhelmingly driven by heteronormative ideals, crossdressing flirts with transgressing those norms, challenging characters to value love above social acceptance, while also allowing them to have a sunny happy ending when they don’t actually have to give up that acceptance. That may sound like a cop-out, but it is a step in the right direction and the dramas that use this trope often do promote tolerance and acceptance, even if the heroine does turn out to be a she. Moreover, having a heroine also be one of the boys gives us a chance to marry romance with bromance—the very best way to have your cake and eat it too.

We recommend: Coffee Prince, The Painter of Wind, You’re Beautiful, Sungkyunkwan Scandal, Moonlight Drawn By Clouds

Watch at your own risk: To the Beautiful You, Scholar Who Walks the Night, Nail Shop Paris, K-pop Ultimate Survival

 

2. Amnesia

girlfriday: Amnesia may be overused in dramaland, but it’s a surefire way to create narrative suspense when you wipe a character’s memory, and we as the audience know something the characters don’t (Winter Sonata is the classic example of this, where you’re glued to the screen while shouting She’s your first love but you just forgot, you dummy!). In romance, amnesia is a common way to reinforce that this couple is the be-all-end-all of fated OTPs (one true pairing), if despite not remembering one another or themselves, they will always find their way back to each other. Like the soul remembers what the mind cannot.

Sometimes that fate is so strong it defies death (Legend of the Blue Sea, The Lonely Shining Goblin), though most of the time amnesia works to intensify a regular romance by stamping it as Meant To Be, like in I Hear Your Voice, when Lee Jong-seok forgets who he is but falls in love with the heroine all over again. (Also in W.) Amnesia can also give us insight into a character’s true nature (Shopping King Louis, A New Leaf), where wiping the slate clean actually helps people discover who they are fundamentally as people. Mostly, I like to think of amnesia as Fate’s go-to trick—if you separate lovers and force them to forget each other, and then they cross oceans and lifetimes to reunite anyway, Fate gets all the credit.

We recommend: Nice Guy, Boys Before Flowers, The Moon That Embraces the Sun, A New Leaf, I Hear Your Voice, Arang and the Magistrate, Oh My Ghostess, Who Are You–School 2015, Legend of the Blue Sea, The Lonely Shining Goblin, Shopping King Louis, W–Two Worlds, Bring It On, Ghost

Watch at your own risk: Winter Sonata, Fantasy Couple, Remember–Son’s War, Memory, Thousand Day Promise

 

3. Contract Relationships

javabeans: A hero and heroine get caught in a compromising situation and agree to contract-date to save face. A hero hires a girlfriend to get his mother to stop setting him up on blind dates. A heroine contract-marries a hero to provide for her child because she’s dying of cancer. Whatever the reason, contract relationships are a tried-and-true staple of dramas, because they force proximity between two characters who might not otherwise find themselves in each other’s orbits, and keep them there long enough for attraction to do its work.

Contract relationships work particularly well in conjunction with that old chestnut, opposites-attract romance, because it’s way more satisfying to watch two diametric opposites struggling to find common ground and clashing with chemistry and fireworks than it is to have a well-matched pair with similar backgrounds and tastes coming together in a calm, rational partnership. We’d like to note that in real life, Door Number 2 seems eminently preferable to the Sturm und Drung of dramaland romance, but who said real life had anything to do with dramas? Of course, even in a fictional story, we need pretexts for keeping two people who hate each other together (or even just people who don’t care to necessarily be together), and contract relationships are a handy-dandy way to provide that couple with their denial starter flame: I don’t actually LIKE him, I’m here for the money! I have zero interest in her, but she’s my best bet for getting Mom off my back! They can keep making all sorts of excuses for why the contract relationship is real, and the terms of the contract keep them firmly in place until it’s too late to walk away with the denial intact: You’re hook, line, and sinkered, and only true love will do at that point.

We recommend: Full House, Sweet 18, My Name Is Kim Sam Soon, Delightful Girl Chun-hyang, Marriage Not Dating, 1% of Anything, Coffee Prince, Marriage Contract

Watch at your own risk: Fated To Love You, Cinderella and the Four Knights, Accidental Couple (That Fool)

 

4. Cohabitation

girlfriday: Dramaland would be nowhere without forced proximity, and Cohabitation is like Contract Relationship’s big sister: One forces relationship proximity, and the other forces physical proximity. How would ALL of those characters who hate each other’s guts discover that they’re actually meant to be unless the powers that be force them to spend all that time together night and day in cramped quarters, against their will? Reluctant relationships come in all shapes and sizes in dramaland, but cohabitation is one of the quickest and most entertaining ways to cut through the crap and see people for who they really are, warts and all. It’s a fast-track to romance, which is why it’s so often employed, particularly in romantic comedies. The fact that they often come with accidental shower run-ins is just icing on the cake.

What is so appealing about cohabitation as a trope is that it brings out adorable domestic coupley behavior, before anyone is officially a couple. Everything from washing dishes to doing laundry can suddenly become meaningful, and for some reason, the more minor the activity, the more it highlights the comfortable everydayness of their lives together. They needn’t even be a romantic couple, as Goblin and Reaper can attest—once you wash each other’s underwear and compromise on the interior decorating, even sworn enemies can become the best of friends (The Lonely Shining Goblin, Hwarang, Age of Youth, Answer Me 1994). In the classic rom-com (Attic Cat, Full House, Personal Taste, I Need Romance 3), cohabitation is the impetus for romance to bloom by playing house. Because if we go by the rules of dramaland, grocery shopping, all-night sickbed nursing, and matching toothbrushes can only lead to true love.

We recommend: Personal Taste, Feeling (Neukkim), Attic Cat, Full House, Bottom of the 9th with 2 Outs, I Hear Your Voice, You’re Beautiful, Answer Me 1994, Age of Youth, The Lonely Shining Goblin, Sungkyunkwan Scandal, It’s Okay, It’s Love, I Need Romance 3, Pinocchio, Shopping King Louis, Hwarang

Watch at your own risk: The Producers, My Princess, Rooftop Prince, The Man Living in Our House

 

5. Candy and Alpha Heroes

javabeans: Call it Candy and her Alpha hero, or the Darcy syndrome, or tsundere; they’re all variations on the same theme. At the crux of the matter is a plucky heroine melting the heart of a crotchety (but hot!) hero—after first melting the ice around his stone-cold heart—and it’s one of the bedrocks upon which dramaland is built. I like to think of it as an evolution from the Cinderella story, which is a perennial favorite for a reason but does rather put the worn in time-worn. Prince Charming ruled the early days of trendy K-dramas, but it wasn’t long before Charming underwent a bad-boy makeover and emerged charismatically cranky.

What’s the appeal in a hero who says mean things and thinks niceness is a character flaw? In real life, we’d just walk away when presented with a sneering superior, a rude boss who’s constantly nitpicking, or a guy who thinks every hand-sewn sequin on his designer tracksuit is better than you. Sticking around to see if he’ll grow and mature out of his assy stage is a bet that’s simply not worth taking. In dramaland, however, there’s satisfaction in the redemption arc (his), as well as safety (for her) in knowing that he is, underneath it all, a decent fellow. It’s a safety that only works in fiction (seriously, don’t try this at home, kids!), where the Powers That Be have assured us that he’s our guy, so we can rest assured that it’s safe to root for the couple. It even becomes a twisted kind of fun to see a sneery Alpha hero misunderstand the heroine or put her down, because we know he’ll be brought down low once love takes hold. Since narratives love dramatic extremes, the higher they stick their noses, the harder they’ll fall on them. And while there have been dramas that tackle the reverse scenario, with an Alpha heroine and a Beta male, it doesn’t have the same effect, inasmuch as swapping the genders reverses the power dynamic. Skewing the character setup to extremes on the conventional power scale (powerful hero, powerless heroine) further emphasizes the great equalizing power of love, where their hearts are on equal ground.

We recommend: My Girl, Goong, Secret Garden, Boys Before Flowers, Full House, Brilliant Legacy, You’re Beautiful, The Last Scandal of My Life, Best Love, Answer Me 1988, Oh Hae-young Again, Master’s Sun, Drinking Solo, Jealousy Incarnate

Watch at your own risk: Heirs, Pasta, Cheese in the Trap, Hyde, Jekyll, Me, Level 7 Civil Servant

 

5. Beta Heroes

girlfriday: Alpha’s Hero’s little brother is naturally the Beta Hero, the type we most often meet in noona romances, who is often younger and less experienced in life compared to his counterpart, the Alpha Heroine. Or maybe he’s even just a ‘fraidy cat, like the hero in My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho, or a pushover who lives to please his dominant girlfriend (the classic example is the movie My Sassy Girl). There’s an obvious gender role reversal that comes with this territory, which is the fun of most beta hero romances, and while they are increasing in popularity nowadays, the Candy and Alpha Hero still dominate the drama landscape by far.

What we often see in these types of dramas is a sassy heroine who’s opinionated and strong, which is a huge part of their appeal for me. And of course she’s coupled with a puppy dog hero who follows her around with complete devotion, almost always in romances where he likes her first and isn’t afraid to declare it at every given opportunity, and publicly at that (Biscuit Teacher Star Candy, The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry). Beta Hero may be inexperienced at a great many things, but he certainly throws everything behind courting his girl, and I’ll never grow tired of watching romances where the hero wears his heart on his sleeve and openly chases after the girl of his dreams. It sure is the stuff of fantasy, but then again, what drama isn’t?

We recommend: Biscuit Teacher Star Candy, Unstoppable High Kick, Witch’s Romance, What’s Up Fox, The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry, Flower Boy Ramyun Shop, My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho, I Hear Your Voice, I Need Romance 3, Shopping King Louis

Watch at your own risk: Baby-Faced Beauty, I Do I Do, Big, The Producers

 

7. Reverse Harem

javabeans: One (p)lucky heroine, surrounded by many, many beautiful guys. WHAT’S NOT TO LIKE.

The trick to either a harem or reverse-harem setup is that there must be a suitable twist, which allows the characters in the drama to escape seeming overly into the situation. I mean, the appeal is obvious—you just can’t have the characters admitting it all up front! That would be… unseemly. (Also, we fans understand that the gratification is really for us.) That means, if a girl is surrounded by boys, she has to either hate the attention (like the shy agoraphobic of Flower Boy Next Door), or be presenting herself as a different identity (Coffee Prince), or maybe be forced into this situation by factors out of her hands (Flower Boy Ramyun Shop). Moreover, there’s no fun in putting a heroine in the center of a reverse harem if she were the kind who’d naturally attract one on her own, without the extenuating circumstances that establish our drama’s premise. If she’s already a queen bee, there’s no fun in putting her in the middle of the action—at least not the kind of fun that comes in putting a wallflower or overlooked tomboy in that same role and having the guys fall in love with her for her personality and character as much as they do for her looks. It’s part wish fulfillment, part true-love-wins-all. And okay, partly pure eye candy.

We recommend: Feeling (Neukkim), Flower Boy Ramyun Shop, Coffee Prince, You’re Beautiful, Sungkyunkwan Scandal, Boys Before Flowers, Flower Boy Next Door, Hwarang, Answer Me 1988

Watch at your own risk: Cinderella and the Four Knights, To the Beautiful You, Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo, Doctors

 

8. Friends-to-Lovers

girlfriday: Friends-to-lovers is one of my personal favorite romance tropes, because I love watching the confusion when love begins to complicate a friendship, and the tension that comes from that inevitable turn when one half falls in love first and has to pine in secret. It’s really the secret one-sided pining that gets me every time, when everyday interactions suddenly become laced with heartfelt yearning, and we’re privy to the stolen glances and silent acts of love—stuff that in many dramas is otherwise reserved for the perfect Daddy Long Legs second lead (Answer Me 1997, Twenty Again, Plus Nine Boys).

The appeal of a good friends-to-lovers romance is that there’s a very natural progression from trusted confidante to romantic partner—you begin to lean on a best friend and cross lines without being conscious of it, and before you know it, you’re already spending all of your time together and getting jealous of potential suitors and acting like a boyfriend without the title (Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju is a particularly adorable example of this). One of the key advantages of a friends-to-lovers setup is that there’s plausible deniability when you’re “just friends,” and denial is very useful in dramaland, as it gets you into all manner of coupley shenanigans without having to label things, and lets the drama deliciously tease out every potential romantic development. But whether it’s denial or one-sided yearning, all roads in a friends-to-lovers romance lead to one conclusion, which is the best of all: that your best friend is the one person you can truly be yourself with, who loves you just for who you are. And what could be better than that?

We recommend: Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju, Twenty Again, Bottom of the 9th with 2 Outs, Jealousy, Propose, Answer Me 1997, Answer Me 1988, Let’s Eat 2, Bubblegum, The Good Wife

Watch at your own risk: The Time I’ve Loved You, Ex-Girlfriend Club, Plus Nine Boys, Persevere, Gu Hae-ra, The Producers, One More Happy Ending

 

9. Wrong Identity

javabeans: Mistaken identity isn’t the same thing as swapped identities, or heroes in disguise, or body possession—but what they all have in common is a narrative conflict built around an identity that’s, well, wrong. Whether this circumstance is the result of a mistake (he has amnesia and forgot he’s a chaebol!) or an intentional ploy (he got a new face and name to avenge his dead father!), it’s a great trope for lovers of dramatic irony, where a great part of the fun is in knowing more than the characters do. When we know that the heroine is really just a doppelganger or possessed by someone else’s soul, our meta awareness provides an extra layer of entertainment. Dramas often revel in it, playing with near-discoveries in another form of fanservice, heightening tension and raising blood pressure by throwing our disguised characters in all sorts of close calls.

And playing with identity doesn’t just end there; it also allows for all sorts of angst to befall our main character when the false identity comes into direct conflict with the true one. Maybe a hero falls in love with the enemy he swore to destroy (or more likely, the daughter), or perhaps a heroine fits into her false life so well that she feels trapped in her lie and is deathly afraid of losing it. When the initial motive is pitted against a newfound love, for instance, it forces the hero(ine) to examine what truly matters—and when (s)he chooses love (because they’ll always choose love), it reinforces the preciousness of that love. Over money, over revenge, over anything and everything that came before it, making it seem just a little more epic than had our protagonist not had to sacrifice all else in order to keep it.

We recommend: High School King of Savvy, Who Are You—School 2015, Green Rose, I Remember You, Come Back Ajusshi, 49 Days, Angry Mom, Healer, Who Are You, Oh My Ghostess

Watch at your own risk: Wife’s Temptation, Angel’s Temptation, Mask, Monster, Goodbye Mr. Black, Shark, Birth of a Beauty, Bad Guy, Oohlala Spouses

 

10. Hate-to-Love

girlfriday: The hate-to-love setup is probably one of the most common tropes in dramaland, because you can have a bickering, contentious relationship no matter what genre you’re in, and it has the very simple but satisfying reversal of first impressions being utterly wrong. It’s Pride and Prejudice—where two people’s vast differences first cause hate, and then lead to growth and change—applied to everything from political and ideological enemies (Gaksital), to warring school club presidents (Sassy Go Go).

Characters needn’t be mortal enemies to go from hate to love, since a bad first impression is enough to get two people off on the wrong foot, but it’s especially satisfying when they hate each other with a fiery passion and then have to eat crow. The more hate there is, the sweeter the comeuppance when a jerk falls off his high horse and becomes a fool for love (The King 2 Hearts, Boys Before Flowers). It’s like karma, but with a twisted sense of humor. There’s also a subset of dramas that go love-hate-love, if there’s a divorce or betrayal to overcome, and I find that these can be the most ardent hate-to-love relationships if done well, like School 2013, in which the violent hate between two boys just masks how much they loved and missed each other (sniff!). Hate-to-love is used so often because it infuses any relationship with a strong narrative arc from the start—if you start your love story at rock bottom, there’s nowhere to go but up.

We recommend: The King 2 Hearts, Boys Before Flowers, Full House, Sassy Go Go, Secret, Secret Garden, Gaksital, Best Love, School 2013, Brilliant Legacy, Drinking Solo

Watch at your own risk: Cinderella’s Sister, Emergency Couple, Fantastic, High Society, Cheese in the Trap

 
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PRINCESS' MAN!
When the man loves the girl but decides to deny his feeling and hurts her in order to take revenge on his family's assassination while the woman faithfully keeps her love to him no matter how rude/stupid/mean that man can be AND that very same woman also fights for her love… Oh, well! I can't think of any better (and perfect) example for love-hate-love trope other than this drama!

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Tropes tend to make us clever "fortoneteller" who could more or less predict what will be in the next plot of the drama. Haha. As I read through this amzing list, I realised that most dramas have more than 1 trope used. :P

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DB missed out on the Noble Idiocy trope ...." I should part with you cos I'm the daughter of your enemy who killed your parent(s) etc or I have to leave you so that you will have a better life or future aka won't hinder in your progress in life. "

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Because there is no time when this trope actually works imo. It is always predicated on the idiot part and drives me crazy. This is especially true if the parties involved can just sit and have a conversation and work things out together....rant over. Apologies but tropes can do that to a person.

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"I have to leave you to return with awful english and make everyone run from me"

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i really want to watch a kdrama with all these tropes. It could end up being like puuuure crack (and cringe) or just a hot trope mess!

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As a huge fan of contract relationship trope, there are some dramas that were not in the list but if you are a huge fan of it too and you have covered everything in the list, maybe you can consider:
My Girl (Lee Dong Wook and Lee Jun Ki!)
Lie To Me (I don't like it though)
Goong
Goong S
It's Okay, Daddy's Girl (not main couple though but the whole drama has actors who can't really act though)
Dandelion's Family/Blossom Sisters (long family drama though)
My Secret Hotel (sorta contract relationship...)
Prime Minister and I (still couldn't warm up to their relationship)
Mary Stayed Out All Night

Under cohabitation trope, there's another drama that I thought of: Witch Yoo Hee.

AND Bottom of the 9th inning with 2 outs is very very good, unexpectedly good.

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I love enemies to lovers ala kings2heart and BOF

Also contract relationships - it's so dumb but you just love them!

I cannot stand candy though - those with 10000 part time jobs and a sick parent etc etc.

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I wondered why DB didn't put YWCFTS in one of the list and then I realized that YWCFTS is one kind drama that has less Kdrama typical tropes. That is one special reason which made me fall in love instantly from the first episode. hehehe.

I previously watch IHYV which is also my favorite but then it has amnesia plot despite its amazing plotline.

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I am loving these Top 10 post of Everything to celebrate your birthday!!!

Here's ones I would love to see and giggle over :

Top 10 kdrama boyfriends ever
Top 10 kdrama heroines to aspire to
Top 10 kdrama fantasy characters
Top 10 kdrama kings
Top 10 kdrama adaptations (from other dramas, webtoons, stories etc)
Top 10 revenge stories
Top 10 meet-cutes
Top 10 bromances
Top 10 BFFs
Top 10 Best PPLs incorporated into kdramas (cos we already know the worst - Subway in 10 different scenarios)

I could do this all day! Actually I'm gonna go and write down my choices for these categories!! *runs off with paper and pen*

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Great list! Now I have some more potential dramas on my list... though I always take recommendations with a bit of caution. Watch Fated To Love You at your own risk? Rooftop Prince? Two dramas I love.

And Winter Sonata is like THE classic drama that made these tropes, back when they were new and exciting. I would have enjoyed it more had I watched it early on my drama-watching life.

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Love this post! Thank you so much guys for sharing your love of dramas with us!

I think my current favourite trope is friends to lovers because weightlifting fairy is doing it so well! ♥

My all time favourite tropes are cohabitation and contract relationships. It's just really fun to watch. But I guess that only applies for dramas. In real life, I am not sure how many people forced to live together end up falling in love. I am not even sure whether people can be forced to live together or act like they are in a relationship in real life. :p

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The only drama with amnesia trope that I love is 18 vs 29. It was old drama, but I still occasionally watch it. Feature young Ryu Soo Young and with Siwon as his teenage version. Amnesia was not thrown in the middle but it's what drive to story. I mean husband try to win over his wife's love all over again is cute, especially when the wife only remember him as her nemesis on their high school days.
And I love how they show their past in every eps ending (man, Siwon never look so cute before).

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Amnesia really ticks me off especially if it's overdone. Looking at you Winter Sonata. I just finished it and if anyone had warned me, I wouldn't have watched it. Loved the OST though

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Amnesia was over done in The Innocent Man too. I was like "not again, lead gal ?!"

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Yeah, out of all the tropes, Amnesia is the only one that I have never seen executed in a way that I enjoyed.

Any time there's even a whiff of amnesia (like in Cheese in the Trap, where we were all worried that Seol would have amnesia after getting hit by the car), I groan. To me, it's just such lazy writing.

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I think the amnesia trope was used excellently in Queen In-hyun's Man though. So far, that's the only show that used amnesia as a product of good writing and not as a worn-out plot device.

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Ah! I've never seen Queen In-hyun's Man, but it must be an amazing show if it manages to make the Amnesia Trope into something believable and engaging. ^_^

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It scares me a little how many of the dramas mentioned I've seen, I'm only missing 2... I might have a wonderful problem.

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I didn't see time-traveling tropes here but here's my take:
Recommend: Nine times travel and Queen In-hyun man...(the best)
At your own risk: Moon lovers

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And don't forget Faith!

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Faith was one of the best time travel drama for me, can't say for Nine Times Travel cos the ending made me frustrated and scratch my head for an answer (??????)

Didn't watch Queen In-hyun Man nor Moon Lovers....

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Forget to add, and yes God's Gift - 14 Days made me scratch my head even more and exclaimed "what??!! that's it??!"""

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does anyone else have any reverse harem recommendations? i've watched all of the ones listed except one (tho i'm struggling to see how doctors was reverse harem tbh...)
i've seen go-ho's starry night as well.

this list was cute! thanks for the effort you put into it~

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I can't tell you how much fun it was reading the top 10 tropes (yes, it's what makes kdramas so endearing/maddening and we love it). It's refreshing that Weightlifting Fairy is doing a fantastic job of friends-to-lovers!

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As I read down the list I completely burst out laughing when I saw all the titles listed under Amnesia.
So even though I remember amnesia and wrong identity from the US soap operas my grandmother watched when I was a child, they sure are an integral part of kdrama ?

If we could expand to twelve, or should there become a Tropes 11-20, I do think First Love and Noble Idiocy should be next in line. It's been well more than once that I've gotten to the last episode of a show only to learn that OF COURSE the OTP had actually first met (and, by kdrama logic, therefore crushed on each other) as children.

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yah!!! those two are musts!

First Love and Noble Idiocy constantly annoy me. I think the first few times I thought it was endearing and then when it kept happening over and over I wanted to bang my head against the wall. This isn't to say that they're all bad. First Love tropes can still be fun to watch but I really do get annoyed when it isn't integral to the story...referring back to your last sentence about the last episode showing this.

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Noble idiocy is my MOST hated drama trope and it has seriously ruined dramas I was in love with all the way through until the noble idiocy hit. Angel Eyes was the most beautiful drama ever until she did what she did. I was yelling at my screen for him to RUNNNNNN - do not marry this self-absorbed girl! The other drama which I utterly loved until the end was Beautiful Gong Shim. What, there are no phones or email between America and South Korea?? Give me a flipping' break! It still makes me mad. There are more but steam is starting to come out of my ears so I will resist a list.

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I've dropped Angel Eyes after I finished like more than half of it cos I hate the angst and noble idiocy....and yes Beautiful Gong Shim, where the beginning and middle parts were good but the ending was so lack of logic...pls you mean the OTP never even contact each other being one at SK and one at USA??!! I really rolled eyes at the lack of logic at the ending....so silly....so he was so busy with his dad and his studies that he don't even contact her at all...what bullshit....I dislike plot loopholes whereby you know this is ridiculous illogical...it's not like they are living in the historical era right ??

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Guys, which couple is on the triangle on the left hand side of this post's poster picture? The guy has black hair and the girl is slightly pouting. They look so attractive; would really appreciate if someone could tell me which drama they're from.

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I think it's the same couple from Trope 5, Sung Joon and Kim So Yeon in I Need Romance 3.

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The guy is definately Sung Joon (성준) and if I'm not mistaken she's Kim So-yun. The drama is I Need Romance 3 (see the Beta heroes list) and it's a very cute drama, one of my fave noona romances too. I rec it.

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One of my favourite too !! the lead OTP have chemistry !!

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Oh, you are right! Thank you!! I watched INR3 back when it came out but couldn't put that and this picture together for some reason.

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So, um, question about Marriage Contract. How big of a part play the tumor thing in the overall drama?

Cos "contract relationships" is one of my fave tropes ever, but "illnesses" is my most hated tropes ever and I can't decide if I should watch it or not.

Like I mean if it's just a plot device to get them together and the illness is quickly resolved (in a "hahaha we were kidding. She's not sick! The MRI machine was broken!" way), I should be fine. If, on the other hand, it's an actual big plot point and everyone's sad cos death is looming, I should probably stay away.

Any help would be greatly appreciated, thanks.

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Marriage Contract was seriously one of the best dramas ever. The acting will blow you away and the story is heartbreaking. Her illness is real - very real - and she's dealing with it the nest she can in order to take care of her child. Do not deny yourself the experience of diving into this beautiful emotional experience and love story which becomes SO REAL that it's a lesson to all of us on how to live and love every moment we have on this earth.

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*best* she can - not 'nest!

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Oh man, that sounds tempting, but also like there's no happy ending. Am still torn *bites nails*

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Today I was actually thinking of the trope of men who love women who are on the verge of death.

-Marriage Contract
-Scent of a Woman
-Mama

quickly came to mind.

I know there are more . . .

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I did watch Scent of a Woman cos Kim Sun-ah, Lee Dong-wook and Uhm Ki-joon are some of my favorite actors, but boy, if I did suffer. I did like how the story was handled, including the ending.

For some reason Marriage Contract seems quite similar yet I get this weird vibe that it may veer into territories my heart can't quite take on. If you know what I mean.

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I'd like to recommend a drama under the Amnesia trope: Save the last dance for me. Eugene and Ji Sung are in this drama. It's one of my favorites!

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One obvious trope that they like to use is that the characters are gifted. They are always portrayed as best in their industry and are just so smart. Studying comes so easy to them.

I've identified so many of them, and the new shows keep portraying them.

Some of the Recent shows
Heo Joon Jae (Legend of the blue sea)
Kim Sabu, Kang Dong Joo (RTDK)
Kang Chul (W)
Louie (Shopping King Louie)
Yoo Hye Jung (Doctors)
Je Soo Ho (Lucky Romance)

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LOL the Geeeeeeenius trope!

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Genius conman from Squad 38 and Genius autistic doctor in Good Doctor too, and also genius gangster doctor in Yong Pal, super genius doctor in Beautiful Mind !!

I realised most of the time, the Genius tropes always happen to the lead guys who are doctors....why ???

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I just remember the one of my favorite kdramas also has amnesia in the drama,among other things - Queen of the Game with JJM and LBY. Recommend it despite the amnesia.

Revenge/Hate to Love also

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can I get a top 10 second leads that should have gotten the girl list? I think this deserves a list especially because many of the dramas have such swoony second leads...I constantly get second lead syndrome!

Here's just a few from my list that I have not gotten over:
Lee Junki in My Girl
Yook Sungjae in Who Are You--School 2015 (there were two of them!!! how did he not get her?)
Oguri Shun as Rui in Hana Yori Dango (I know...not a Kdrama but remains my favorite version of HYD)
Color of Woman (utterly forgettable drama except for the fact I didn't understand why she chose the completely wrong guy)

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Oooh, a top 10 list of characters that'll give you second lead syndrome. Seconded!

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I had to look up "candy" in kdramas.

I now believe that Ji Euntak is the ultimate Candy Girl. Goblin then is of course a great example of The Alpha. Then there are the birth mysteries and amnesia (reincarnation) and contract relationship thanks to "fate" (since there are conditions). Potentially, hate-to-love between Goblin and Reaper. Reaper is not quite a "beta male" but he's clearly not in charge in his relationship with Sunny lol.

I think I misunderstood the point of this post. Can more than one trope appear in a single drama? I'm thinking it is possible now. lol.

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Yes, majorly!!! Don't forget the cohab in Goblin, too.

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I think the absolute BEST Hate-to-love drama is "A Love to" Kill with Rain and Shin Min Ah. What happens to him as he slowly discovers the true personality of the girl he is sworn to hate (for driving his brother to try suicide) is such a powerful character reversal that just thinking about watching it when I did three years ago gives me shivers.

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What about Heartstrings for hate to love? Sure, there wasn't a lot of hate but they did have some interesting face-off moments. My most favorite being the one which was like a musical face off between the hero & friends playing western instrumental music and the heroine & friends playing Korean traditional instrumental music.

Though the heroine's hate turns to love the minute she hears the hero sing (Who can blame her for it's YongHwa singing). Later, She also rather courageously tells him that she would stop liking him to which he makes the most indirect proposal ever by asking her not to stop liking him.
I think it was among the first few dramas I watched so it will forever be fresh in my memory for its music, cinematography and a sweet lead pair.

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11. Second lead syndrome: whether it's the girl who makes the second lead a better person and Is so crucial for his life/makes him happy or the second lead guy who is always there to support the girl (usually secretly) and gives her confidence making her a better person...she still ends up with the other guy. Makes watchers frustrated, upset, go into denial, confused as to the girl's thinking and yelling at the screen "why did you pick him?!?!", resolve that it's ok cause now he's free for me! Starts numerous debates, ship wars, and creates broken hearts. But we still watch with our cracked hearts cause we always have the sliver of hope until the last second of the last episode that maybe the writer will change their mind or hope that at least the second lead will get their happy ending as well.

Watch to break your heart: You're Beautiful, Cheese in Trap,

Watch with a broken heart and greater frustration: She's So Lovable, Dream High

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I also forgot, watch with a broken heart: sungkyunkwan scandal, Reply 1992 and 1998, Who are you - school 2015, Moonlight Drawn By Clouds, Hwarang

Ok...some may just be a semi broken heart cause I was on the right ship for some of these but I understand many others were not.

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Wow.

It looks like whoever put the list together decided not the watch Answer Me 1988 to the end or forgot the ending entirely. If neither is the case I fail to comprehend how it was filed under Alpha Heroes. Taek was many things but alpha, as defined above, wasn't one.

In Answer Me 1988
1- There was no Alpha romance, only a momentary tease of a distraction.
2- The romantic heroes were all betas, Taek, Sun Woo and Jung Bong. No alpha found a partner if the series was actually watched to the end and the writer's story was respected.

But then I'm pretty committed to my beta heroes. I even enjoyed Baby Faced Beauty and I Do, I Do, yet I wouldn't recommend Witch's Romance.

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I dropped I Do I Do halfway (about half of the drama watched) cos I couldn't stand the 'useless' lead guy. Witch Romance is not bad, but I don't quite like the lead gal cos she seemed a little cold-hearted and slave-driver to her colleagues, that's why her colleagues hated her so much and nicknamed her "The Witch", I like the lead guy though.....As for Baby Faced Beauty, I've never watch it.

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This is way late but I believe the alpha referred to was Jung-hwan. Duk-seon crushed on him and he was a tsundere. (Never said a nice word to her during that time.) By usual k-drama logic they would have ended up together.

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1 more kdrama trope that I suddenly thought of : the main OTP are childhood friends or they have seen/know each other when they are kids .....

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Absolutely.
That's the first love trope
But could be defined under fate I supposed

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Hello all!

After reading this post, am I the only one who wonders at some of the names of kdramas? Weight lifting fairy kim bok ju, biscuit teacher star candy, nail shop paris etc., Do these sound better in Korean? Just wondering lol

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Seems like Dramabeans and I have the same interest. My all time favorite Kdramas are all recommended in its trope. There are Coffee Prince, Personal Taste, Marriage Not Dating, It's Okay It's Love, Oh My Ghostess, Jealousy Incarnate, 1% Of Anything, and Weighlifting Fairy Kim Bokju. So happpyyy! Hehe.

Anyway, happy 10th anniversary Dramabeans! Thank you for being Kdramaland fairy godmother who's always been there for us Kdrama lovers. We love you!!!

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Wow I like kdramas, but hate like half of these trops :"D candy girl and the extremely rich chaebol alpha, reversed harem, forced/cojtraxt relationships, amnesia, the poor girl who's always saved, the noble idiotism which you already mentioned earlier... They seem simply too unrealistic for me :P though I loved the Birth of a Beauty. The chemistry was no joke <3

(Idk, I may be off here, but I have no idea where else I could ask this)
Could you guys recommend me some dramas which are less cliché? I'd love to see a more mature female lead (which doesn't means she's 30smthing but might be) with a not necessary mutual love interest at first, later maybe requited or finding someone else. Someone who acts more following her mind and less her temporary feelings, not sooooo cute and perfect, but loveable :)
About the male characters, I'd be interested both in a beagle type young, funny guy and in a more mature man. If it's a bit harem-like it doesn't matter, but I'd like him to be fair. Only thing, he shouldn't shower her with love and affection and caring and everything.
So don't make it wayyyy too easy for the girl ;)
Lol IDK if dramas like this even exists, but if so, please tell me :D
(btw I really like the Sunny-Reaper line in the Goblin, maybe that's the only thing keeping me interested)

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How about time travel?

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