5 Sci-Fi Cliches That Should Be Ejected Into Space

Friday, 17 February 2017 - 3:19PM
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Friday, 17 February 2017 - 3:19PM
5 Sci-Fi Cliches That Should Be Ejected Into Space
Image credit: NBC Television
All stories have their share of tropes—it's part of what makes them universally understood and beloved. That being said, there seem to be a rash of cliches that have just become lazy and predictable to the point where they start taking away from the fun. Here are a few science fiction cliches that the genre could do without. 

1. Scientists Never Last


In more movies than can be counted (including Prometheus, Independence Day and Interstellar) the supposed smartest people in the room are the first to bite the bullet—usually as a way of telling the remaining crew that the dangers are serious. It's a trend that has changed somewhat, with more movies championing science such as The Martian and Arrival, so hopefully future films can find more interesting ways for scientists to be of use to the plot...other than dead men walking.



2. Useless Armor


Why exactly do Imperial stormtroopers wear such elaborate armor if they can still be felled by a single laser blast, or take a nasty hit on the head? Same goes for the Jaffa Armor in Stargate, or all the dying armored judges in Dredd. Granted, lasers should be able to do a great deal of damage, but why wear armor at all if they can't give any kind of protection? The YouTube channel Lore Guy has one answer, at least for stormtroopers:



3. Aliens Look Just Like Us


This is a trend that is thankfully changing more and more, but Star Trek has historically been the worst offender in this category: seemingly every alien species ended up being humanoid, but with different ears, different foreheads or just different color skin. Likewise, each alien species was only one race, whereas the humans who encountered them were as diverse as the galaxy itself. Of course, obvious reasons (like budget) aside, the growing understanding that life can flourish beyond the humanoid form has only pushed science fiction in more interesting directions, like Jeff Nichols Midnight Special. Hopefully that trend continues. 

Here's a terribly erroneous (but hilarious) guide to the alien races of Star Trek:


4. Chosen Ones


It's a tale as old as time. From Anakin Skywalker to Neo, Ender, and of course, Paul Atreides, the idea that a prophecy has pre-ordained someone as a chosen hero has crossed over from myths into sci-fi. Usually, it involves an orphan or someone with dormant, hidden powers that leak out over time before they master them. It's quite compelling, to be sure, but it's also overdone. Some of the more fun spins lately have been where the supposed hero ends up not being the true "chosen" one, such as Mad Max: Fury Road, where in the end, Furiosa ended up being the true savior. These sorts of stories add another level of richness and complexity by subverting the old tropes. Even better, no prophecy involved in Mad Max—just a bad-ass woman taking her chances to change the world on her own terms.



5. Unlimited Power Crystals


Whether it's Infinity Gems, lightsaber crystals, or Dilithium Crystals, the idea that unlimited potential must be housed in some sort of crystal is becoming increasingly bland as a trope. It makes sense for storytelling purposes, since crystals can be used as a symbol for obtaining something that is hard to explain and plus, they're shiny. Yet, hopefully, science fiction can do better.

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