Tropes are a funny thing. To some extent, knowing and expecting what’s going to happen next in a story – anticipating a particular structure and story elements – is why we’re drawn to specific genres and sub-genres…
There is a benefit to this kind of comfort reading. It lets us take solace in predictable stories in an unpredictable world. Humans strive to make sense of a senseless world. When we’re stressed, in particular, we tend to see patterns in events, white noise, and coincidences where, in fact, there are none. It’s a human thing. We are hungry for meaning. We want to believe that the hardships we endure are leading up to some greater purpose, and stories help us put those events into a narrative that makes sense; it gives us hope that we haven’t suffered for nothing.
This quote is from an article on SF Signal featuring authors talking about the use of tropes in fiction.
Overall consensus, tropes can be a double-edged sword. There are always good reasons to use tropes, they’re familiar to your audience, they help inform plot and character; but you should never only rely on tropes to engage and inform.
Specifically, Hurley mentions how authors can create a “poisonous narrative” when they rely on tropes that alienate segments of the society. There are tropes that need to be subverted or ignored in order to challenge the hegemonic norms and showcase areas of society that don’t necessarily get featured in fiction.