Tropes are devices and conventions that a writer can reasonably rely on as being present in the audience members' minds and expectations. (credit: TV Tropes)
In other words, tropes are most often certain situations that have been used so many times in a particular type of work, that they are associated with that genre.
For example: kabe-don within shoujo or romance-oriented works, or a wardrobe malfunction within ecchi-oriented works. Shimapan is an example of an apparel trope.
Other examples of tropes within anime/manga include: the beach/vacation/Christmas/alternate-universe episode, the misunderstanding, the love triangle etc.

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