TL;DR: I disagree that all "is there any...?" questions are suitable for this site, and propose the following:
- Close "is there any work featuring XYZ" questions as recommendations or too broad;
- Leave open "What is the first work featuring X" questions (no change here);
- Leave open "Is there any" questions which are set in a specific universe;
- Only if the querent can make a very good point, either in comments or on Meta, that their question doesn't have the flaws described below, the question can be reopened.
The reasoning behind the current policy is a bit flawed
The 2012 answer which serves as policy today reads:
Strictly speaking, the answer to an "are there any..." question is not a list, but a "yes" or a "no". To be a good answer, an answer of "yes" needs to be supported by an example or two, but that does not make it a list answer, nor the question a list question.
The above is true, but flawed. First, as a comment points out, this doesn't make sense as in SFF's case, a "no" answer cannot exist:
How could you possibly answer a question like this with an answer of "no"? Absence of evidence is nothing more than absence of evidence. As a result, some of these types of questions would be fundamentally unanswerable.
And indeed, go provide evidence that there is no work with such a plot/feature/twist. There is too much SFF material to browse through; ironically, you'd be back to a list answer of "works XYZ do not match".
Just because it's not a list or worded as a recommendation, doesn't make it a good fit for the site
Generally speaking, large lists and recommendations have no place on Stack Exchange sites. The fact that answers to "is there any" questions do not fall under that category doesn't magically make them on-topic. Communities have some leeway to determine what is suitable or not for their site; this is why SFF allows identification questions, when Movies.SE does not. Point being, there is no upper-policy dictating those should be left open.
It can be abused way too easily
Granted, rules can always be tweaked in some way, but compare:
Of course there is more to close-voting a question than just its title, but doesn't the above just look weird? Any recommendation question can be made on-topic by wording it as a "is there any" question and letting people post their favorite works as answers.
Granted, it can similarly be bypassed by asking for the first appearance of XYZ. But at least rating which work was "the first" is pretty straightforward: sort by date. It also has some value as a genre evolution type of information.
On "is there any" questions, there's no restraining new one-liners answers, meaning you could have a thread of "title answers" going on for quite a time, depending on how tropey the thing is. That's not, in my opinion, the level of quality I want to see on Stack Exchange sites; this is more suitable for platforms like Reddit or Quora.
2020 SFF is not 2012 SFF
Simply put, some people may have voted on this policy with the 2012 state of SFF in mind, and think differently now. Some of the users who wanted this policy in 2012 may be gone. Some new users may disagree with it.
Voting periodically on whether to keep or change something is a good thing. It lets people express their opinion and possible desire for a change; no policy has to be set on stone forever. It's like saying electing a President in 1983 makes them President for life; it's broken.
Also, pretty much all "is there any" questions seem to generate close votes and policy-reminders in comments, sometimes by folks who disagree with said policy but want to abide by site rules (I'm one of them). For instance, check the lengthy comments, revisions and timelines of:
And many others; the goal isn't to have an exhaustive list, it's to show that people are torn; I say let's vote again, to see what the current batch of SFF users want for the site.
Some "is there any" questions are fine though
All the examples linked to above have in common that they are asking whether something exists among all the SFF material ever created by humanity. That's too broad for you. However, I see no problem with reasonable "is there any" questions set in a specific universe, or written by a specific author, etc, keyword here being specific. That narrows the question's scope and avoids it being open to the above clutter. In fact, the community already receives those pretty well: