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Ten Overused Sci-Fi Tropes That Should Be Vaporized

Tropes like "aliens are always way smarter than we are", "humans are good guys, aliens are bad guys", and "humans only use ten percent of their brain power" come up way too often in our favorite sci-fi media, so isn’t it about time we give these tired tropes a rest?!

Gamma Squad put together a list of 10 Overused Sci-Fi Tropes That Should Be Jettisoned Into Space, in honor of the upcoming movie Lucy, which is about a girl who gets dosed with a drug that allows her use more than ten percent of her brain, aka yet another trope based sci-fi film.

Sci-fi fans are sure to find tropes they're tired of seeing worked into storylines on the list, and maybe if we all call attention to these tired tropes they'll finally be laid them to rest!


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dev - there are a few notable counter-examples. In Turtledove's "The Road Not Taken", humans didn't learn the simple technique that enables interstellar travel until aliens with matchlock weapons invade, and lose miserably. In Niven's Known Space series, the Thrintun are of low intelligence but use mental powers to enslave the aliens who visit, and from there take over the galaxy. In Arthur C. Clarke's "Rescue Party", most species in the galaxy take millions of years to progress from sapience to radio, while humans manage it in under 400,000 years. (There are other Golden Age stories with a similar theme; we're more intelligent, but late to the scene.)
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4) Humans are the good guys, aliens are the bad.
Also deserving of a mention in the counter-example list is Small Soldiers. The "goodies" turn out to be very nasty humans indeed. Well, humanish.
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"Aliens are always smarter than us."

Aside from the fact that shows such as Star Trek are filled with stupid or technologically inferior alien cultures, the implication that this trope should be stopped is kind of silly. Any alien species we are capable of making contact with in the foreseeable future would have to be far more intelligent than us in some way or another - that's not a trope, it's a fact of life which makes the story more relate-able.

Similar issues with things like evil aliens and explaining time travel - there are many, many counter examples and they are plausible or worth exploring, so it seems kind of silly to say they should be stopped altogether. That part of the joy of sci-fi.

I definitely agree that the brain power one needs to die though. It's too completely and obviously false to keep playing with. :)
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