I've known about the wiki project called tvtropes.org for a some time now. I find it interesting in that it is a collaborative cataloging of not just TV but general media "tropes".
Tropes being common themes or relatively predictable ideas introduced to an audience as a type of literary "short hand" as it may be assumed by the writer or producer that the reader/viewer is already familiar with it. There's a lot of interesting interlinked media tropes found at the site ( such as the internet and "rule #34").
I suppose the most extreme example of trope exploitation are types of entertainment that trade on a series of inside jokes on current cultural events such as animated show Family Guy:
or US animated show South Park's scathing skit on all the popular Internet fads of recent years in the US:
But even in other formats and genre of media, "tropes" can a be a handy storytelling device for a writer or producer as it adds an interesting wrinkle to the planned story-line.
Hikikomori and TV Tropes
Since hikikomori came to public attention in 1999 and 2000 due to a number of sensational news stories, hikikomori as a concept has crept into the media and popular entertainment discourse. As a result, hikikomori are increasingly showing up in fictional storylines and even as the main protagonists.
TV Tropes does a nice job of detailing hikikomori found in popular entertainment here.
Of course, originating as a Japanese phenomena, a fair amount of hikikomori "tropism" is found in Japanese forms of popular entertainment such as anime and manga.
A prime example being the manga and anime series N・H・Kにようこそ!, (Welcome to the N.H.K.) where the main protagonist is a hikikomori or NEET who believes that Japan's public broadcasting network's acronym, NHK (Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai or 日本放送協会 in kanji) actually stands for "Nihon Hikikomori Kyōkai", or 日本引きこもり協会 in kanji. The protagonist believes NHK is an association that is part of a vast conspiracy to purposely create hikikomori through various moe anime programs designed to keep people at home:
Hikikomori as a Western Media Trope
However, the hikikomori trope does appear to be making the jump into western media via various documentaries, shorts, indy works like Hikikomori: Tokyo Plastic, and mainstream films like the anthology Tokyo!.
I wonder how long before we see a hikikomori as a trope on an American reality TV show or formula series in shades of Syfy's Warehouse 13 character Arthur "Artie" Nielsen or Fringe's character of Dr. Walter Bishop?