Fantasy Tropes We’re All Guilty Of

Hey writing fellows! I know that, after reading tons of fantasy stories and the comics and the movies and the fanfictions (wait, was that last part just me?) we all believe we have an idea of what fantasy stories look like. But it’s easy for our subconscious to insert one or two (or twenty) bad fantasy clichés. It happens to the best of us! And hey, sometimes clichéd stories still are amazing and defy the odds. One or two clichés are okay, but hey, if you can get a truly refreshing twist on the genre, more people are bound to notice (hello, Hollywood movie deal?). So, here’s some tropes you can completely twist around to get a better story!


·      The hero who is way too good at seducing men/ women.

·      The damsel who insists she is not in distress. (My fave)

·      The damsel in distress. (It’s one of the two, especially YA)

·      Everyone’s name is Archerus or Fyre

·      Magic has no rules, the best kind of magic. But then it inexplicably fails when you actually need it. (Make dinner? Yay, magic! Need to battle the boss, whoops, it fizzled)

·      Protagonist grows up in small village. Protagonist feels like they don’t belong and “yearn for adventure”.

·      The villain is seductive… or the villain is revealed to be the hero’s parent… or the villain was your best friend all along who was jealous of your heroic-ness.

·      The kindly old mentor/ grandmother figure dies a horrible death.

·      The hero is an orphan

·      The hero is generally rude to everyone and makes snarky comebacks to people who are just confused/ suspicious/ don’t want to immediately bow down to the hero’s wishes.

·      The hero is a loner OR everyone inexplicably is drawn to trusting the hero before they even say “hello” OR “yes, I’ve heard of your deeds. The prophecy foretold…”

·      There’s a great evil that only the MC can destroy.

·      The ring must be taken to Mordor (…wait a minute.)

·      Everyone is cis and straight in this universe.

·      Lack of diversity.  Unless they’re orcs/dwarves/elves/green. But not human diversity. Although I see some shifting trends, so good on you!

·      The elf hates the dwarf.

·      The elf hates everyone because bow down to my elfin-eared immortality, losers.

·      The Fae are present instead of the elves, or the elves are a subset of the Fae. It depends on whether they have wings or not.

·      The hero always wears boots. Because slippers are just too uncomfortable.

·      If the hero crashes a fancy ball, they don’t stop to change afterwards and go on fighting dragons in a suit and tie

·      MADE UP LANGUAGES. “Madeupa’diss…” the wizard muttered in the Ancient One’s language, brow bent as he bent over the sword, the blade embedded in the skeleton of a previous unfortunate adventurer.

·      Place names that sound like you looked outside and combines the first two objects and added “-ius- or “–landia”.

·      Hero loots dead bodies to suddenly pick up a magic sword or amulet. (hm… questionable morality here)

·      The hero never stops to eat on their journey. Ever. They can joust, seduce, buy a horse, then travel to a dark forest fifty kingdoms away ALL IN A SINGLE DAY.

·      If heroes do sleep, it’s outside. Around a fire. Under the stars. Then monsters/a creepy stranger approaches them in the middle of the night.

·      Insert mostly male characters here. (Hey, maybe if you stopped kidnapping women, there’d be more of them!)

·      Insert maidens getting randomly kidnapped.

·      Love interest the hero doesn’t know but insists he/she/they’d die for

·      Insert the hero getting gifts from random strangers that end up being useful later… wow, what a surprise. Found a use for the cursed potato peeler after all.

·      I AM GOING ON A QUEST! (everyone turns to stare at you at the tavern and suddenly decides they want to sign up too. It’s not like we have jobs in this fantasy kingdom)

·      Insert a band of a mercenary, a reformed villain/thief/criminal/drunk, a seductive bard, a brooding magician, a prince/princess who’s either lost or in disguise or rebelling against their daddy, the ever-glorious HERO, and the young kid/cute pet that’s there for the hero to protect and be sympathetic-looking

·      Insert creepy villain who likes the hero’s love interest way too much for comfort

·      If you’re a blacksmith, people let you walk out of the forge with a teary-eyed goodbye and half their life earnings. It’s not like we paid you to work or anything. Or got you clothes. Or, you know, raised you. OH, you’re a prince? Sure, take a hiatus from ruling/learning about kingdom politics and go slay a dragon. Princess? Oooh, sorry. You’re going to have to wait to get kidnapped. Just stand outside when the next dragon passes over.

BOOM! FANTASY! (Now how do I stop using these tropes?)




  1. A Humorous Warning | The Diligent Dilettante on January 22, 2017 at 6:11 pm

    […] satire of fantasy fiction cliches today from Sophia Whittemore. I hope to remember this post when I get back to writing “The Chosen,” because the last […]

    • Sophia Whitte on January 22, 2017 at 8:23 pm

      Why thank you very much! I’m happy to be of service. 🙂 Best wishes for your writing.

  2. Elizabeth on January 22, 2017 at 7:22 pm

    Whoops. I may be guilty of a few of these.

    • Sophia Whitte on January 22, 2017 at 8:23 pm

      It’s alright! I’ve done it too. 🙂

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