The storytelling trope I hate most is that the hero needs a personal reason to get involved ("Refusal of the Call," if you wanna get all Campbellian about it).
It's such a prevalent trope, it even works its way into genres where it isn't traditionally needed.
One of the biggest culprits? Modern detective stories and crime thrillers.
As Weird Fiction author Misha Burnett once pointed out, there's a trend in modern detective stories for saddling the protagonist with some personal loss or trauma that drives them to catch killers. Mom/Dad/Sis was murdered by the infamous Bay Street Butcher, a case that remains UNSOLVED TO THIS DAY!
But in older stories, the detectives just want to catch killers because they're killers.
That's a noble goal in isolation, and it needs no further justification for the reader to buy into it.
Sometimes, the best reason for your hero to get involved is that it's the right thing to do. But with a few notable exceptions (indies, some action/adventure series, etc.) we seem to be losing that in our fiction. Heroes motivated by nothing more than a personal code or a sense of justice aren't seen as compelling or "realistic."
To put it succinctly, we've turned into an audience that can understand Batman, but not Superman. Avenging a personal tragedy is seen as a realistic motivation. But standing for Truth, Justice, and the American Way is seen as hopelessly quaint and outdated.
At a minimum, it's a sign that something is deeply wrong with our notions of what constitutes a Good Man.
Maybe that's why I hate the trope so much. It's a glaring reflection of the nihilistic selfishness permeating modern American society.
For my part, all I can do about it is try and tip the scale a little with my own work. We write what we believe, after all. And for all my cynicism, I do believe the world changes for the better when Good Men see an injustice, and try to do something about it.
I'm an award-winning science fiction and fantasy writer based out of North Carolina. This is where I scream into the digital void. I like cookies.