Exploring the language used to describe male and female tropes in films

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Stereotropes is an interactive visualization experiment from the Bocoup Data Visualization team. It explores a set of tropes authored and tracked by the community on the TV Tropes website. Specifically, this project focuses on gender and the differences between words associated with male and female character tropes in television and film.


Some of the greatest reflections on society take place in film through narrative plots, expressive scenery, and complex characters, which often fall into familiar patterns called "tropes." Tropes are devices and conventions a writer can reasonably rely on as being present in the audience’s minds and expectations. Some tropes are cliché (stereotyped and trite), while others put into plain sight what is otherwise hidden or unspoken.

Tropes on tend to have long descriptions, identifying images, and a catalogue of film roles that embody the trope. This vast collection of data allow us to ask interesting questions about the representation of gender in films. Are certain adjectives used to describe tropes more likely to describe a female or male trope? How are these adjectives used together?


The Bocoup Data Visualization Team analyzed the vast data from TV Tropes using Text Analysis techniques and other statistical methods. Using the results, the team iterated on visualization designs to represent our findings and to create a visual brand to match the challenging topic. The team implemented the visualizations as well as the underlying web application.


Stereotropes has been incredibly well-received by the diverse communities it touches, from those interested in film to those who are interested in text analysis and visualization. TV Tropes was thrilled with our work, and their community of fans really enjoyed exploring their data through our novel interfaces.

As a movie fan, I'm instantly on board with this project through subject alone, but I really love the focused slice of analysis the team has applied to this large topic, providing an excellent tool to investigate the way gender and character is portrayed on screen.

Andy Kirk, Visualizing Data

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