Top 10 Worst Fantasy Cliches

Fantasy is my absolute favorite genre of fiction, but these cliches in it bother me quite a bit. If you're writing a fantasy novel or screenplay or whatever, I'd suggest you avoid these cliches or better yet try something new and different with them.

The Top Ten Worst Fantasy Cliches

1 Two-Dimensional Villains

Why do they want to destroy the world? Do they have any reason or motivation for their evil plots? Complex, believable villains are very important for fantasies. If you're gonna write a good villain then make him real. Hitler and Stalin both thought they were doing the right thing. Try having your villain think he's doing the right thing too. Give him real motives and good traits.

villains are also people, they don't just go: "ey, whadup, you know what? ill destroy the world lol"
no! villains have their own reasons, they also think, they are also humans.
think, do you just kill someone for no reason? no!
that's why there is a word called "motive"

You need a motivation besides "I wanna rule the world muhahaa! " - EliHbk

2 Contrived Romance

This includes 'instant love' and love triangles. Most young adult fantasies involve at least one element of romance in them. If a love story plays no real part in your actual story and is only there for the sake of including romance, it'll appear contrived and unrealistic.

3 Stereotypical Characters

When I say stereotypical characters I mean predictible and recurrent character types and traits. A few examples would be the chosen one, the wise old mentor, the feisty weapon-wielding woman and the orphan whose long-lost parents were actually royalty, making him/her heir to the throne.

Now I'm not saying you have to avoid those types of characters. If you find yourself swaying into stereotypical territory, you don't necessarily need to scrap or change characters entirely. Instead, think about what makes them truly unique, original, interesting and vital to the story. What makes them a character only you can write?

4 Bad Dialogue

It's either too modern, too weird or too wordy. If you're going to use modern dialogue, use it with caution. If you're going to use weird dialogue, have it make sense. And if you're going to use wordy dialogue, don't have it be too long or filled with purple prose.

5 Oversimplified 'Good vs. Evil' Dynamic

This is really only a cliche in certain types of fantasy, usually especially dark fantasy books are a lot less like this and show that all the characters are flawed instead of portraying the protagonist as completely good and the antagonist as completely bad. Quite a bit traditional epic fantasy is admittedly like this though, although it really just depends on the specific novel as some aren't like this. - Element119

Because so much traditional fantasy deals with the conflict between good and evil, both readers and writers often fall into the trap of seeing heroes as purely good and 'villains' as purely evil. The fact that you're writing fantasy, not realistic fiction, does not mean your characters don't have to be realistic. They absolutely do-and to be truly realistic, they shouldn't be oversimplified.

"The world isn't split into good people and Death Eaters. We've all got both light and dark inside of us."-J. K. Rowling

6 Having the Story Take Place in a Medieval European Setting

Many fantasies often use this type of setting and it's so overused that I don't even bother going to medieval fantasy conventions anymore. At least come up with something more creative and don't reuse the same setting for every fantasy story you write.

Do the industrial/medieval mix like fable - EliHbk

7 The All-Powerful Magic Object

Powerful magic objects have a rich history in fantasy fiction. While these kinds of objects provide a great magical plot point and help drive the story along, the truth is that by now they're nothing new.

If you wanna avoid this cliche then have your characters' journeys, quests and actions be the main focus of the story. That way, even if a magical object is included as an important element in your story, it'll be secondary to what really engaged the readers: the characters.

8 Taking Place on Just One World

Staying on the same world is gonna get boring after a while. Fantasy should be about being creative with your imagination. If you really are that creative then you can come up with different worlds to explore instead of just having the entire story take place on only one.

9 They All Lived Happily Ever After
10 Uncreative Races

It's all the same. Dwarves are short humans, elves are tall white people with pointy ears, orcs are green fodder, it's boring. I get that making a whole new race is hard, but you don't even have to do that! Where's the moving about the chupacabra? I wanna watch a fantasy story where the dwarves and the nuckaleeves are fighting, where the trolls are scholars or something. We need originality!

The races in most fantasies I've witnessed are elves, dwarves, dragons, fairies and many other creatures derived from different mythologies. It's okay to include them sometimes but why not come up with your own race? We hardly ever see any tall insect-like creatures or one-eyed mollusk-like humanoids. Why not add something more imaginative and original instead of ripping off Tolkien's races?

Purple saiyans vs gecko dwarves - EliHbk

The Contenders

11 The Damsel in Distress

boring - EliHbk

12 Chosen One
13 The Farm Boy Turned Master Swordsman


14 It Was All a Dream
15 Characters Having British Accents

This one's not too bad but it's a little lazy. If you're really gonna create your own world then you should also think about creating your own distinct language instead of deriving a real one.

16 Magical Race that is either Good or Bad

I have seen this way too many times in fantasy novels and it is incredibly unrealistic. It’s like Elves = Good, Dragons = Bad and there are no exceptions for either side. Not even modern societies can pull this off. Every single elf or fairy is always kind and helpful and every single dragon or goblin is mean and greedy. Please, add more diversity!

17 Rising from the Dead

I hate it when the 'good' guys kill the 'bad' guys and they have a celebration but then it turns out that the bad guy isn't dead and they have to fight him/her agaim.

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