1. The thriller hero with a mysterious past who used to do nasty things for the government, but now he lives near a body of water with no visible means of support. All he wants to do is live in peace, but the government/damsel in distress/national emergency that he just happens to be in the middle of keeps pulling him back in.
He hesitates at first, but once he starts killing again, the old skills resurface because everyone knows that once you learn gymkata (or whatever mysterious martial art he practices) your skills never rust from disuse. Even though he hasn't done dirty work in years, all his old contacts are still in the same locations under the same names, as though they were waiting for him to return just so they can sell (or give) him weapons or vehicles, and that one piece of information he needs to put the big picture together.
And no matter how many dead bodies he leaves in his wake, he's never branded a serial killer and the woman (there's always a woman) can't help but fall in love with him, but they don't stay together for long (the speech is given or implied, "You don't wanna get mixed up with a guy like me. I'm a loner, Dottie. A rebel").
2. The love triangle. The one that involves the heroine, her childhood best friend who has secretly loved her for years, and the hunky, mysterious bad boy she finds irresistible. (Lexi: I've written this one myself...)
3. The liberal arts serial killers. You know, the ones who kill for the beauty...and the art.
4. Stories with a woman on the run from serial killers who, through some miracle of focus or oestrogen, find time to fall in love while everyone around her dies. (Lexi: worse to my mind is the mother whose child has been abducted, who embarks on an affair while the search is going on. Yes, that's so what you'd do when out of your mind with dread.)
5. Teenage girl discovers she has some mental power and that there is a dark family secret.
6. The billionaire who falls inexplicably for an ordinary fairly dull and talentless heroine, is obsessed with possessing her, is hopeless at communicating with her despite his genius at everything else, showers her with gifts and wows her with everything about his lifestyle, but then one little misunderstanding makes her run screaming and pouting and sulking to some inane friend or other before she realizes he and his bank account were destined to be hers forever more.
7. The ubiquitous Big Misunderstanding in romantic fiction. The hero and heroine don't speak, avoid each other etc., for chapters at a time. And yet if they'd only be in the same room for five minutes it would have all been cleared right up.
8. I have a particular aversion to characters who are too stupid to live.
- "No, we can't call the police to report a crime. Well, no we have no good reason for this stance, but we're still not going to call."
- "I know a serial killer is stalking me, but I'm still going to go for a pointless walk all by myself. What could go wrong?"
- "I'm going to go to the empty house after midnight on my own to meet the writer of this anonymous note, because that's what he specified and he says he has information for me."