Prepare to lose large chunks of your life: TV Tropes is that addicting. With thousands of pages, covering fiction tropes from “Actually, I am Him” to “You Can’t Go Home Again“, TV Tropes is a boot camp for the Genre Savvy (and required reading for the would-be Dangerously Genre Savvy).
Each page in the wiki defines and describes a specific trope, like the infamous (and hoary) Deus Ex Machina. And there’s thousands of pages, covering thousands of tropes.
The best articles delve into historical background, critical analysis, and prominent examples (thus leaving you more educated about genre and genre tropes), while the worst are a stew of in-wiki cross-references: “This trope is like that one, but not like these two others, and often appears in conjunction with a fourth trope.” (These latter pages are obscure, maddening, and wholly unenlightening.)
So why is this a colossal time sink? Because there’s just so damn much material, thoroughly cross-referenced, written in an accessible, conversational tone of voice, and illustrated with concrete examples from all kinds of media (not just television). Maybe normal people wouldn’t find themselves opening 6 additional browser tabs, after reading just one article, but genre geeks should find it hard.
Such an encyclopedic compendium of tropes is an open bar for people looking to educate themselves on matters of genre. There’s just so much good stuff…
Whether building a setting, trying to understand the thematic elements of King Lear, or casually browsing for edification and entertainment, TV Tropes has you covered. If you can spare the time.