I really hope this wasn't just a thing within the 1D fandom because I really want to laugh with someone about the time around 2013 when every new fanfiction was either about gangs or kidnapping. (I wrote fics for both of those tropes at the time, so I'm allowed to make fun of it.)
But the fact that a bunch of teenagers—mostly girls I think—were reading about their favorite characters or celebrities being mafia bosses or kidnappers is something that needs to be studied by psychologists and scholars to figure out what was going on. I read many, many of them in my day. Also, I'd really like to one day discuss the number of "my parents were deep in debt so they sold me to One Direction" fanfics that existed around 2012–2013, but this is not the time or place for that.
Anyway, moving past the ridiculousness of those tropes, I've always found it interesting the trends that a fandom can get into with its fanfiction themes and tropes.
As someone who is a multifandom shipper and reader, I don't notice a lot of the fandoms overlapping with their tropes, but each definitely has its own. It's harder to tell when you're reading fics posted from different years, but if you read enough, you'll pick out the popular tropes.
With Stucky and WinterShieldShock in the MCU, soulmate stories abound. I can't tell you the number of WSS fics I've read where Steve wakes up from the ice with a new soulmark, in addition to the one he was born with that matched Bucky, and ends up matching with Darcy, who conveniently also has a second soulmark that matches Bucky.
"Teen Wolf" loves some true mates Sterek fics—basically soulmates for werewolves—and there are so many "Stiles Stilinski is pushed out of the pack" fics that there is an official tag on AO3 for it. But I'm not mad because that's definitely one of my favorite tropes.
Alternate universes in which Sandor either doesn't leave Kings Landing during the Battle of the Blackwater or takes Sansa with him when he goes are some of the most common AUs for SanSan out there. I think I've read every version of how either decision could have changed canon, but if you've got a new one, please send it my way, I'm in a SanSan drought and dying over here.
And if anyone wants to chat about the beauty of the "Gendry is legitimized by Robert Baratheon" or "Gendry is the true born son of Robert and Cersei" Gendrya tropes, I'm here waiting with outlined 4x6 notecards.
It's been too long since I consistently read either Larry or Gallavich to know what the current tropes are for the 1D or "Shameless" fandoms, and I don't read "Harry Potter," "Supernatural" or "The 100" enough to really observe the trends in those either.
But I think these trends show what a real community fanfiction creates. Authors are influenced by theories and conversations they take part in as much as they are inspired by the other fics they read. (Even if you don't think your trope-heavy work was inspired by other works, it was. You didn't come up with the soulmate fic on your own, I promise.)
Even when, as a reader, you start to get tired of a certain trope, you only have to wait a bit before a new one takes over, and you have all new works to read. Because, come on, when was the last time you read a new coffee shop AU? I'm pretty sure the last one I read came out in 2016.
How do you feel about fanfiction tropes? Have you observed trope trends in your own fandom? What's a trope you'd like to see become popular next? What is the most ridiculous trope you remember reading?