I’ve noticed this thing. Maybe you have to.

You’ll be watching a tv show, or a movie, and they’ll give you this view of the car interior so you can see both the driver and passenger, plus the street moving in the background. You get a couple of back and forth camera shots, going back and forth between driver and passenger pov, and then BAM! Something (truck, another car, maybe a train) slams into the car. On tv, this is where they cut to black and commercial.

It’s quick and (used to be) unexpected, shocking, even. But, as tropes go, I’ve grown to expect it now as soon as I see that certain camera angle and haven’t been wrong once so far – there’s always that side impact. The most recent was on Heroes Reborn and, yes, I watched a few episodes before I got bored with it. They did take the side impact collision a bit farther, showing us the interior of the car tumbling in slow motion, the actors being thrashed about while glass and other bits and bobs spun around them. I’ve also seen it recently on Scorpion, and a slew of other shows.

I’m wondering – at what point does a cool effect become a trope?


Click me to see gif!

The first time I remember seeing this was probably back at the end of the first season of Supernatural, when John Winchester and his boys were riding to war in the Impala (baby), talking about their plans when WHAM! T-boned by a big rig.

I jumped.

Next time was probably the Bionic Woman reboot attempt by NBC. That accident was instrumental in Jamie Summers becoming the Bionic Woman, and it, too, made me jump.

But as time has gone on, and my writer brain has picked up on how television scripts tend to be structured, and to see the patterns they fall into, I’m not shocked anymore. Or, at least, not quite as often. And when I see it coming, it’s not quite as entertaining anymore.

And, ultimately, I think it’s a device that’s being overused, driving it into the tope column, and possibly further, into cliche.

Thoughts? Any other plot devices you’ve noticed being overused lately?

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