A woman is walking slowly, carrying a loaded tray. Maybe she is humming a tune or starts to say something to someone. Next scene: The tray has crashed to the ground scattering broken china and food all around. The woman is screaming: “Help! (or Au secours or Aiuto”) depending on which language the drama is in and yes, you knew it: there is a ghastly dead body on the ground (or in the bed, or in an armchair.)
In a male version, a man is walking his dog through a wooded area. The dog runs off and refuses commands to return. We know he has found a body.
Here is another familiar scenario: An obviously vulnerable young person gets a phone call: “Sandy (or Amy or Candy,) this is Dana, help me please. I am scared; I am at the deserted X Warehouse. Without a word to anyone the distraught Sandy (or Amy or Candy) jumps in her car, tires screeching, rushing headlong into what we all know is a trap. And yes, we next see her at the warehouse walking hesitantly and calling “Dana where are you?” Suddenly someone comes from behind and silently encircles her throat. In one variant, a friend has overheard the telephone call and appears just in time to rescue our heroine. If not, she becomes the second victim. In crime dramas nowadays, multiple victims are in.
Are you ready for this one? A person opens the front door in response to a knock, thinking it is her neighbor or the mail carrier and is confronted by an apparition from the past: He or she is staring fixedly or glaring or grinning widely (you pick) and saying: “So here you are. Long time no see!” We all know an aggrieved person from long ago has arrived to torment and seek revenge.
And now for a Hitchcockian twist.
A young maiden is fleeing a pursuer, running blindly with someone at her heels. She runs, stumbles, recovers her balance, reaches her front door, gropes for her key, finally inserts it in the lock with great relief, and enters the house only to find her pursuer waiting for her inside. In some scenarios she then wakes up from a dream. Other times she is not so lucky.
In a lighter vein, this one is probably from a comedy or a more lighthearted mystery drama. We have two attractive young people, studiously avoiding each other, or constantly bickering, and making a great show of going out with other people. That is a sure sign that sooner or later they will fall into each others’ arms.
A regular watcher of such shows will often get this sense of deja-vu. Still, it in no way detracts from the pleasure of watching. On the contrary, you get to enjoy recognizing these situations and detecting these ploys. You watch to see what variations on familiar themes the author will bring to you.