A while ago I wrote a list of my top 11 most hated cliches. I tried to come up with an alternative. My top 11 favorite cliches, but I couldn't think of enough so I decided to do something different but similar. Have you ever had one of those plot types that you could manage to enjoy no matter how cliche and sterile they are? Those plots that have a large chance at being your guilty pleasures at worst? So, if you do know any episodes (or hell movies) that use these plots, I'd love to hear them; they don't even need to be animated. Although, each of these can and have been done badly before.
Number 12: Genie Plot
One that doesn't have the third wish be "I wish I'd never met you" (with a few exceptions, like one of the Fairly OddParents TV movies, the one with Norm), which is odd because this doesn't really apply to shows like Fairly Odd Parents where reality is bended at will. The basic gist of this plot is that a normal character suddenly gets the ability to get whatever they want. It tends to show new sides of a character that we hadn't seen before. It especially works well when the character is modest and selfless. Granted, the plot usually goes that the wish backfires horribly, and exceptions to that rule I find much better (hello Aladdin, which is probably the best example of this). It also allows the writers to be very creative, though not always.
Number 11: Episode in Space
Space is cool. Episodes in space are cool. Keep in note that this doesn't apply in shows that primarily take place in space like Buzz Lightyear of Star Command or Lloyd in Space. It needs to be a specific episode where our Earthling main characters find their way into space like Journey to the Sun from Courage the Cowardly Dog and Deep Space Homer from the Simpsons. I'll admit that it's largely for the aesthetic, since I like the feel of space in every medium. Space levels are some of my favorite video game levels too, although that might be for the music (Check out "Far Out theme" from Pac-Man World; "Welcome" from Ape Escape; or the space theme from Spectraball.
Number 10: Body Snatcher Episode
Speaking of space. Anyway, this episode pretty much homages "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." I would have brought this up in my top 25 Modern Spongebob episodes when I was talking about Planet of the Jellyfish but that's because I didn't realize how much I liked this plot. We've all got that homage that we'd like no matter what, whether it be to Willy Wonka, It's a Wonderful Life, or Star Wars. Although mine is a weird one since... I've never actually seen Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Although whenever I think of this plot being done in another cartoon, like Dexter's Lab, it always ends up being a very memorable episode, if not one of my favorites. Not to mention that it frequently overlaps with zombie episodes, which is pretty cool.
Number 9: Idiot Becomes a Genius
It's kind of obvious that many TV shows will use idiots (or weirdos) as one-note joke machines with little personality other than just being stupid. I like this because it really turns that on its head, like Patrick SmartPants or that episode where Homer got the crayon out of his brain. I will say that very often, this ends up trading being generically stupid for being generically smart in the lesser forms of this episode. However, when you get really lucky you see how the sudden intelligence meshes with the rest of their personality. Like in the aforementioned episodes, Patrick is still kind of arrogant and Homer still cares about his family. Or maybe their intelligence turns them evil, like in Jimmy Neutron. And no, the head becoming the size of a refrigerator isn't necessary.
Number 8: Brainwashing and Hypnosis Episodes
There are certain ideas and episodes that have been done to death. Amnesia is one of them, and this is another. It's frequently pulled out by writers who are running out of ideas, like The Simpsons' Day of the Jackanapes. However, this is one I really can't hate because I like seeing characters do strange things and I can see so much possibility with this. I mean, one of my favorite childhood book series' was the Molly Moon series (mostly the first book). Done for just one episode, it forces the dynamic to change. Unlike amnesia though, I think there's a lot of untapped potential regarding episodes messing with people's heads. Like... maybe don't reveal that it's a hypnosis episode until the last few seconds... that would be some Twilight Zone shit right there.
Number 7: Evil Twin Episodes
So just the other day I watched Dexter's Rude Removal for the first time. Yes, I'm late to the punch, but it's one of the funniest episodes of the show. But I actually like this episode best in shows like Samurai Jack, or super hero shows when the heroes are forced to overcome their own abilities and win the fight in new ways. It does make it hard for me to see anything too bad about Dan Vs. The Imposter (although The Telemarketer doesn't get a pass). I like it in superhero shows, especially late in the series run, because we've seen the heroes fight through endless enemies and it seems like they can't be stopped. This episode puts one unstoppable force against another unstoppable force and has them collide.
Number 6: Dream and Bizarro Episodes
I'll put it plain and simple. This really forces people to be creative. We get to see interesting visuals and interesting dynamics that we couldn't see in other episodes. Not to mention that in dream episodes we get to see insights to who the characters are and what they're feeling. Keep in mind though that "It was all a dream" doesn't get a free pass from me. It should be put up front that we're in a dream, possibly by doing both of these episodes at the same time. Or, alternatively use the dream excuse to do fantastical things in a mundane world. I've seen at least a few examples of this and it's always a surprise since you're not expecting it. A good framing device can really let you do anything, and having something be a dream is a great one. Episodes that follow the Bizarro route tend to be unforgettable, like One + One = Ed; Mad Mod; Operation REPORT and Operation UTOPIA (my definition of dream is loose).
Number 5: Groundhog Day Loop Episode
I often find myself wishing that I had more time to do things that I want. In this plot people keep repeating the same time period (usually one day) over and over again. As we get further down this list it becomes harder and harder to come up with reasons that I like these things beyond "I just like them," since I can even enjoy the cliched formula. Character has a miserable day, they repeat that day until they enjoy it. Though that's not always the case. It's just usually the case. I guess I could also add episodes that deal with manipulating time: stopping it, travelling through it, slowing it down. I guess we've all got an innate desire to have more control over time, or to have more of it. Then again, in this episode time still manages to control you. One of my favorite Groundhog Day Loop episodes is Thursday from Strange Days at Blake Holsey High, a show that I wish got more attention. It's pretty much a live action Gravity Falls, with the main characters dealing with random supernatural events based on the things that they were learning. They learn about tesseracts, and reality folds in on itself with one room leading a different one that it's supposed to, at a different time of day; they learn about DNA and someone's DNA gets altered.
Number 4: Dystopian Future Episode
Okay, I love time travel episodes to no matter the era. However, any show can put its characters in the past where we (think we) know what happened. It takes some imagination to take us to the future, speculating about what technology that we (probably won't) have. But there's always the change that the writers aren't so optimistic. Maybe your characters didn't listen to the crazy hobo ranting outside the library. Maybe your superhero failed to stop a bad guy. Whatever the case, now you're living under his rule. It's hard for me to dislike this episode. Back to the Past from SpongeBob was a runner up for my top modern SpongeBob list (Patrick's the main reason why it didn't make it. Also I don't know how to feel about the Mermaidman and Barnacle Boy death joke nowadays). It doesn't have to be villain like Dr. Doofensmurts taking over the world, it could be... Libby from Jimmy Neutron? Actually, that one is one of the better ones because the dictator in the present isn't evil. It gives interesting insight into their personality, which was really touched upon in the Danny Phantom finale, although I don't think I've ever seen an episode where someone sees that they rule the world with an iron fist and delving into what that does to them psychologically.
Number 3: Body Swap Episode
This one... I've got a really hard time explaining. The closest explanation I've got is that the "fish-out-of-water" story appeals to me as that's a basis for a lot of these plot types and other fish-out-of-water plots might be runners up for this list. But most stories follow the same basic plotline. Characters think that the other one has an easy life while their own life is hell, they bicker for a bit, and get swapped in order to give them a new perspective on things. The humor tends to relatively stay the same from story to story, even though the types of fusion may change (although same gender parent/same gender child and brother/sister swaps are by far the most common). I guess this is a definition of the type of plot I could watch without really caring, although there's definitely a limit. I haven't seen the Breadwinners body swap episode, but I'm pretty sure I'm not going to like it. The body swap plot doesn't work if two people are the same character...
Number 2: Role Reversal Episode
No... ya think? I'm just the guy who's doing a whole series based on role reversal. I guess once again, it's the fish-out-of-water thing, although that would make it hard for me to explain why a whole series on that that doesn't have the fish-out-of-water aspect. This one is largely the same as above, and as such they're interchangeable. Why this one is higher is because it tends to be more common, more varied, and a large part of its charm is that the characters have to be willing to play along whereas the body swap plot forces the characters to play along whether they want to or not. It makes it harder for the writers, since they've got to keep the characters willing to go along with this for as long as possible.
Number 1: Alternate Universe Episode
My favorite type of plot is the type where characters travel to an alternate universe. Why? Mostly because it's something different every time. It has to be. It can also be anything and the writers can get away with not having any explanation to why the world is that way, like in Operation POOL (probably my favorite KND episode), and explaining things can end up badly, like in Road to the Multiverse, which like I'm With Stupid has parts that I do like, just brought down too far by well... stupid. I guess a large reason this is my favorite is because of wanting, not having. I want more stories like this. Most series tend to touch upon it, but don't really even go into the concept. Most of my experiences come from video games, specifically the Zelda series with A Link to the Past and Majora's Mask being my favorites. I guess this is one that I'm still looking for. So yeah, if you know any of these types of episodes I'd love to hear about them. Also, tell me what your favorite types of episodes are. The ones that you'd happen to love, no matter how cliched they are, and want to see more stories of.