Source: TV Squad
Written By: Keith McDuffee
Submitted by: Lesmond
“Oh here they go, using plot number four.” Have you ever said something like that when watching a show? It’s when the writers have run out of a unique or clever plot ideas for an episode, so they dig into the plot database (is there one out there? Someone should start one.) and reuse something you’ve seen a million times before. Here’s my top five most overused plot lines for sci-fi television shows.
#5) Lone hero misfit saves the world from aliens/meteor/etc.
You can always see this one coming. World’s getting overrun by aliens? THAT guy will save them! Whether he does it on his own, by developing an ingenious computer virus to plague the alien horde’s ships, or leads a small army of misfits to save the day. Though sometimes the writers have to decide if the hero lives or dies in the end. Usually you just want to see him bite it.
#4) Human and non-human fall in love/have a baby.
If a show turns to this for a plot, you may as well say they’ve jumped the shark. Crap, even Mork and Mindy did this! Sometimes you can see this storyline coming from episode one, though sometimes they can work it all into one night. Captain Kirk had this one down to a science.
#3) Crew lost in space, always trying to find home.
Not usually something that will fit into one episode, though you’ve no doubt seen this theme on numerous sci-fi shows. Lost in Space. Star Trek: Voyager. Battlestar Galactica. They’re all getting lost out there!
#2) Mysterious plague/infestation cure is right in front of everyone’s noses.
Top scientists and the greatest minds on the planet can’t figure out how to save the world’s intergalactic space flu problem, but they never think to simply look in the kitchen cupboard for an answer. My god, everyone’s dying from some mysterious disease that oozed out of a meteor, but we can’t find a cure! What kills it? A jar of mayonnaise. Your ship is infested with mutant rats from planet Ratztar, so why didn’t you know that they die when you play an E-flat from the intercom system?
And for #1, there’s a tie:
#1a) Time Travel.
It’s so convenient, yet so problematic. Someone makes a mistake in the past, figures out how to travel through time, they fix the problem, and all’s honey-dory. Or, they time travel by mistake, wind up in the past and unable to get home, forever searching for a way to return. This is yet another one of those “I so saw that coming from a mile away” plot lines. You know it’s inevitable that the writers will work it into the story at some point.
#1b) The government did it.
Those pesky suits. They’re always up to no good. Aliens invading Earth? The government pissed them off. Biological catastrophe? The government did it trying to make a $10 million toothpaste for the Marines. Meteor about to hit earth? The government blew off a chunk of the moon trying to mine for diamonds.