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No entertainment genre is more infused with tropes than horror. Everywhere you turn there’s another horror flick featuring a masked murderer, or an evil possessed doll, or a slacker about to get his block chopped off. Tropes make the horror genre tick, and this week at Polygon, we’re exploring how the biggest ones became pillars of the genre, burned out into cliches, or evolved into something brand new.

For example, did you ever notice how often the human sacrifice ends up just wrecking shop and saving the day? Or how so many horror movies seem to feature a guy who is vaguely reminiscent of Shaggy from Scooby-Doo?

And what’s up with all the evil mirrors out there? What did we ever do to them?

So join us on this wild ride we call Trick or Trope. Just be careful: Any one step might be your last.

Illustration: Rafael Alejandro for Polygon