While most BL tropes might sound overused or cliche, it’s obvious that they form the very foundation for a storyline.
Tropes are largely bracketed into categories and although some of them have been repeatedly utilized, you cannot dream of a drama/movie that doesn’t place importance on them. They are addictive and even if we have watched hundreds of undulating versions of the same trope, we still fall down the rabbit hole, again & again. Join us, as our authors talk about their favorite BL tropes!
In the BL world, there are quite a few tropes – tropes are in essence, the way the two main and/or side characters become a couple. There are some tropes that create endearing characters you fall in love with and cheer on later. There are tropes that make you angry or sad. I would say most tropes end happily. Whichever trope you enjoy makes your experience unique!
Here are some of my favorite ones
Friends to Lovers
I adore watching true love blossom between friends over a period; you start out as friends and eventually realize that you like your friend, inevitably falling in love with them. Love by Chance is a good example of this trope. I loved watching the friendship between Ae and Pete slowly blossom into something more; watching Ae coming to terms with his feelings for Pete and not truly understanding those emotions. Trying to figure out his feelings for Pete and realizing he feels more than friendship for Pete. But once he accepted them, his fears faded away, and he welcomed those feelings. Ae and Pete were truly endearing to me.
Enemies to Lovers
This is another favorite trope of mine, as the commercial value is high. You have two people who dislike each other and make it extremely clear, ultimately falling in love. In Gen Y Season One and Two, Jack Koh totally embodied the “Enemies to Lovers” trope. They were enemies as they kept competing over the same guy, while constantly tried to win over Wayu’s affections. However, surprisingly love blossomed once they realized that their affections for each other ran deeper than their so-called enmity. Their banter was portrayed in such a comical and delightful way that it became endearing to watch. Their chemistry was astonishing and so natural, which made it more and more addictive to watch. Tharn and Type’s relationship is another example of “Enemies to Lovers” trope. I loved this romance immensely as you get to watch Type’s growth as a person. As you get acquainted with his background you understand why he hates gay people; but then you get to watch him come to terms with his feelings for Tharn and embrace them. It was a truly amazing experience!
Gay for You
This trope is a little controversial as some get rather upset with the line – “I am not gay, I just like you”. But I rather find this trope really adorable. One person admitting they like the same sex, figuring out things about their sexuality and understanding one’s own self. There are quite a few shows that capitalize on this trope and I love each one of them. This trope specifically shows that the main character grows as a person while feeling emotions that might be new and yet at the same time realizing that it is not wrong to feel this way. This one is truly another of my favorite tropes, as it can be comical and sweet at the same time. Once feelings are realized and acted upon, things usually turn out for the better.
There are so many more tropes in BLs; these were my favorites. Some of the tropes are overly done and need a change. Some are truly heartbreaking to watch. Without tropes, we wouldn’t have the stories that exist today in the BL/GL world and even if they did, it would be extremely boring. In my opinion, I am extremely glad that we have a buffet of tropes to choose from!!
Or, hey, one sided pining works too. Just give me that pining.
Two characters who are desperately in love but both think their feelings are not returned in the same way? That’s my jam! Especially if this pining manifests in lingering glances and unspoken confessions that frustrate us to no end we just want to scream at the screen for them to admit it. A Tale of Thousand Stars did this amazingly well, and Enchante did this for a while too, until it decided to go a completely different track and ruin it completely.
Enemies to Lovers
What’s not to love about a ship where each party is sure he exists on this planet to get one over on the other party, and then that surety slowly disappearing as they realise that the feelings they have for each other may not exactly be hatred, and that their fixation on each other may have a completely different source. We Best Love No. 1 For You did this so well but I also love me some PeteKao from Kiss Me Again and PatPran from the first half of Bad Buddy.
The Badass Couple
The couple that kicks ass together stays together. Most Xianxia dangai couples fall into this very excellent trope, whether Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji from The Untamed, Wen Kexing and Zhou Zishu from Word of Honor, or even Bai Yutong and Zhan Zhao from the lesser known but hilariously entertaining SCI. More recently Thai BL couples have started following this trope too, such as Tan and Bun in Manner of Death.
The Grumpy One and the Sunshine One
It’s a trope as old as time and it’s impossible to be a watcher of BL and never come across it. It’s a tried and tested blueprint and you’ll see it everywhere from Gravitation, to 2gether the Series, to Sleuth of the Ming Dynasty, and I love it every time. As they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
Enemies to Lovers
This may sound cliché and very common, but “Enemies to Lovers” trope always gets me. But it’s not as simple as that. Right now, I am more into BL novels than watching the BL series and 188 Boy Group (11 novels with the same universe) of Shui Qian Cheng always gives me this vibe of genre. Beloved Enemy is one of the said novels where the Top is kind of a scumbag, hot-blooded, and scoundrel. They make their bottoms suffer at first but fell hard in love with them. Sounds masochistic, right? And I am so thrilled as in KinnPorsche, Vegas and Pete manifest the same kind of relationship. It’s a kind of toxic relationship and I do not recommend it, but the redemption arc of Tops relentlessly pursuing their Bottoms makes the story even more interesting. This kind of trope is not for everyone, it is not simple as but is so dark, abusive, and heart-wrenching that only those who have strong willpower can stand it.
We will be back next week with the third edition of this feature. So till then, keep watching this space as we bring you more updates from the Asian BL World!