My Musings

Annoying Tropes in Fantasy: A humorous perusal of overused tropes in my favourite genre.

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As a fantasy fan I occasionally come across over used or old tropes that I find annoying. Every genre of book has them, that tired old cliché that makes you shake your head and sigh whilst reading.

Well, I have created a humorous (well, I think it is) list of my fifteen most annoying fantasy tropes:

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So there you have it, a good-natured and fun look at annoying tropes in fantasy. There’s two tropes and clichés that I didn’t mention, my list, my rules and they are Animal Companions and Weapon Naming and that’s because animal companions are awesome and well, weapon naming is cool to, if I was a fantasy character – anti-hero obviously! Then I’d have myself an animal companion and a named weapon to. 🙂

Out of the list my most annoying fantasy trope is Number 8: Magic. I’m a big fan of magic but sometimes less is more and you don’t need wave after wave of sorcery being unleashed in duels and battles destroying entire towns and armies. Little hints, nods and nuances to magic in the world most of the time work far better.

Also, there needs to be a cost when using magic, a price to pay for either the world or the character using it, magic usage needs consequences.


Well my fellow bookish bloggers, is there any tropes you would add to the list?? What is your most annoying fantasy trope?? And, if you’re not a fantasy fan (I hope you had fun reading this and smiled at least once to) then I ask you, what is the most annoying trope in your favoured genre of books??

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96 thoughts on “Annoying Tropes in Fantasy: A humorous perusal of overused tropes in my favourite genre.

  1. Omg the fictional languages though! Hahaha it’s so sad but so true. I’ll admit when I’m writing, I tend to use phonetic Russian or Persian instead of being creatively annoying. Laziness? Pity for whatever unsuspecting reader who’s willing to read the work? I say a combination of the two. Brilliant post 😉

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ha, thanks, it’s one of the worst parts of the fantasy genre especially when you read alot of it like I do and every different series has different complex languages, names and places, it’s not necessarily the language itself but figuring out how to pronounce it and going over and over in your head trying to get it how you think is right!😂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh I know! My pet peeve is “strong female leads” who are anything but. Catnis, Hermione, Tris, Danerys… I could go on but I won’t. I HATE “strong”(weak) women. Ain’t none of my ladies like that.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great list! Absolutely amazing hahaha I really like your descriptions about the characters, the magic, the bad guy who’s not bad. Again, great post ^_^ I also realized that I’m use a lot of these when I’m writing as well haha and that I actually like and expect some of these to appear in fantasy books :’) I’m sometimes dissapointed even when many of these points above don’t come back in the novel :’)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent list! I’m very much irritated by the lack of clothing and also the maiden in distress, and usually those two are combined in one, and oh that is so irritating. Where are our capable, clothed heroines?
    And great point about dragons – I haven’t ever thought of dragons that way, almost as a crutch, and yeah, there should be more magical creatures around!
    And I totally agree with you about having an animal friend and a named weapon. Those are two of my favorites! And they always have the coolest names.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you.😀

      It’s only a humorous list but the points are valid, I forgot though that clothes and maidens could be together, damn, I could have really been sarcastic in the list if I’d remembered that!😂

      Dragon’s are cool but there’s a lot more different magical creatures and sometimes it seems that authors just stick with Dragon’s instead of branching out and being slightly different.

      True, cool names are a given for weapons and animals to.😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes to all of these. A lot of these tropes are the reason I didn’t like reading adult fantasy. The made up languages, magical herbs, the old wizard, the perfect snowflake… And the bridge thing is so annoying. Anytime they have to take a detour I’m always like okay what’s going to happen now. There’s no element of surprise anymore. Nice list!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My pet peeve, which is relatively recent one, is the downtrodden female drudge who leaves an abusive father/brother/lover and runs away to the city where she stumbles across a canny bloke, usually on the wrong side of the law, who hands her a knife/sword, gives her a few lessons on how to use it. And then pow! She’s a fully emancipated female, capable of handling herself in any situation and becomes a kickass heroine. Really??? Because if it WAS as easy as that, millions of women and girls around the world wouldn’t still be battling against prejudice and poverty.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. My least favorite is number 10- prophesy of any level frustrates me. It just opens up for the author to use Deus ex Machina. Ugh.
    A great list– while I adore many of these troupes alone or in small groups, I really struggle with books where the are piled on. But, where would our genres be without troupes?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Amen to all of these! Though I’d have to say that my least favorite is number 6 – the bad guy’s not really bad. Sometimes I just want me villains to stay the villain, even if they’re my favorite character in the book (looking at you, Darkling!).

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hahahaha yeah, it’s YA – The Grisha Trilogy 😂… And I completely agree, anti-heroes are my favorite. Like Edmund Dantes is one of the greatest fictional characters ever and he definitely wasn’t the best person.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Don’t give authors terrible ideas like that Justin Bieber monster!! I wonder where it comes from… 😂 I haven’t read that much fantasy but the fact I can check all of these from the stories indeed says something! The most annoying for me is the characters looks. Of course, they have to be beautiful and modest about it and throw their hair back with a majestic move or look you deep in the eyes with those blue jewels of theirs. Yikes because in the end their beauty is just a lure and you’re stupid enough to fall for it you moron!!!! Also, there are so many orphans in fantasy someone should investigate, it’s a real epidemy.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Top notch Drew, TOP NOTCH!! 😀 You should’ve seen my face while reading this :’). (or well, not, since you’ve spread the man flu onto me and I’m DYING now!)

    LOL! Flying Justin Biebers :’) Now that’s a mythical creature I can pass on! Dragons are definitely overdone, though. I love dragons, but do they have to be in everything?! Ah, yes, it’s called a trope, Anne ;).

    Bridget’s Nielsen’s weapons of mass destruction, ahahahah! Is this a reference to the beloved strumpets you were talking about a couple of moons ago? 😉 Funny how there are a lot of reclusive old men living around my place but none of them are wizards. Unless they’re really good at hiding it. The “I can change for her syndrome” is why I love my Horror movies. I know I can show the true meaning of love to Michael Myers if he lets me :’):’). And start a baby factory afterwards :’D. You’re definitely right about the magic costs. No mana or getting a bloody nose should be a minimum of the consequences after using too much of it! Great post Drew!! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, glad it amused you, I tried to make it funny.

      Lol, unless you’ve asked those reclusive old men to show you their staff or wand then how do you know they’re not wizards?!?!?! They could be undercover and waiting for the chosen one! 🙂

      Dragons are cool but there are other creatures out there that authors could use and it’s nice to occasionally see that instead of thinking oh, another dragon!

      No, not really a strumpet reference, I guess I am showing my age with the Conan/Schwazanegger and Red Sonja/Nielson references though!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Drew, are you suggesting I should ask old men to flash me their wands? :’) LMAO, the chosen one! I think my reputation of being the crazy cat lady will definitely be confirmed if I’d just walk up to any old guy saying “I’m the chosen one. Now show me your wand.” :’)
        Are you saying you’re an old man as well? I’m the chosen one. Now show me your wand.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ha! Getting away with it…*shakes head* ;).
        Well, now that would be unfortunate. But I’d take pics and post them here obviously >:D. Or on flashyourwand.com… Potato/potato!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. hahahaha hilarious post!! Shame that your biggest issue is the magic one- that’s the one I’m most likely to let off the hook- in fact I’m irritated by people often trying to explain the mechanics of it- although some symbolic costs are interesting- I’m basically fine with people saying because *magic*. I’d rather not have some annoying infodump explaining it away. I also *love* dragons- but I’m very particular about them being done right- and I agree that they’re overused. For me though I think elves are used much more frequently and unnecessarily! The wise reclusive wizard, the nobody and wielding swords with no difficulty all really annoy me! But the one that gets me the most is the gibberish aspect- if I have to use a dictionary in the back of the book to understand what’s going on, then I will be extraordinarily irritated! (Because even gibberish should be obvious in the way it’s placed in the syntax dammit!!!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, I went for funny with it.😀

      Dragons are cool, just overused at times, they work really well but in some books it just comes across as the author used dragons because they’re cool and popular but they don’t add anything to the story.

      I haven’t read to many books with lots of elves in – there not my favourite type of character anyway though.

      The wise reclusive wizard is so annoying because you just know when there’s an old recluse in the village, etc that he’s going to turn out to be a wizard, sigh – it is fantasy though but old reclusive guys in reality aren’t wizards!😂

      The worst thing for me about the gibberish is trying to pronounce it in my head as I’m reading and then the pronunciation changing daily!😂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh yeah definitely!! They’re not my favourite either- but they seem to crop up everywhere- maybe that’s just me lol 😉
        Hahaha yes- they’re usually just people that haven’t washed in a really long time! I suppose you might mistaken for thinking they have magic, cos they do have the power to repel a lot of people with their smell 😉
        Hahaha yes!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. **clapping enthusiastically**
    I think you covered all the bases here (and I love the “old paper” look of the list, very fine work there…), but I laughed out loud at the item about language: there was one book I read a couple of years ago, where the characters’ names were so convoluted that I had trouble pronouncing them even in my head! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I agree with you on the magic bit. As Rumplestiltskin would say, “Magic always comes with a price.” I love your list and your descriptions were hilarious. I love dragons as well, but they do tend to be over-used. I don’t get the no clothing thing in fantasy. It’s weird. Lol the old wizard with the beard. Unless it’s Dumbledore or Gandalf there’s no real reason why the old wizard needs a white beard that they’d trip over unless they’ve been cursed with facial hair that grows at an exponential rate. The Damsel in Distress is so annoying (which is why I enjoy Game of Thrones so much, for characters like Arya and Dany). Oh my god that language thing is so true! I get having another language but there should at least be a glossery or index or whatever its called where you explain what the words mean! Most of the time I just glaze over the words cause I don’t know what they mean.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, I was going for fun with the descriptions.😀

      That’s true about Dany and Arya, GRRM may like certain tropes but he does write some decent female roles.

      Language is bad, I keep changing the pronunciation every time I read some words and it’s like damn, simple words please!😂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah when I even try and pronounce something from the book in real life I give up. Then people think I haven’t read the book cause I can’t say the protagonists name

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Lol very funny. Great post and great points too! I have to say that the old wizard is one I’ve seen crop up in some kids fantasies I’ve looked at lately. I think some of the list like the orphan or an outcast can be written well but a lot of books go with a generic story these days. Great post and something for me to think about in future…I’m trying to write fantasy for the first time :o!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. This is awesome! So many ring true but I particularly took a liking to Rule #4 (A nobody becoming a master swordsman overnight) and Rule #15 (Gibberish). Of course it’s cool for our humble hero to become proficient with a sword, but oftentimes he/she learns far too quickly!

    And as for the nonsensical languages, I actually just wrote a post which included a bit of a rant against ridiculous character names in fantasy. I do enjoy the genre but sometimes the names can be a bit contrived/overboard.
    You have a great blog here. I’ve just subscribed!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you.😀

      It’s really a humorous look at the tropes as fantasy is my favourite genre but it’s all also true about them.

      True, if they’re going to be the hero/heroine then they need to be proficient with weapons, it should just take some time and mistakes to learn that though, some books it’s a couple of paragraphs and they are awesome at it, sigh, if only learning was that easy in real life.😂

      Naming is definitely annoying, it’s make believe and the author has to create names and a language but sometimes they just go to far with them.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. This is hilarious! I really laughed at the wizard (although I love Gandalf), the bridge and the adopted son. I can conjure up a similar case in every epic fantasy I have read. I also hate to take away from the amount Tolkien invested in the elven language, but it is so true 😉 It has gotten so out of hand haha. It is like they bag of some scrabble pieces, shake em, and toss them out and bam! New language!

    The clothing is not as bad in most of what I have read, but being a gamer and also lover of fantasy film.. HAHAHA. Especially being a girl gamer.. I cannot count how many time my new “chest peice” was questionable. It protects what exactly? My nipps? I am dying 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  16. This made me laugh! They’re all so true but to be fair, some of them do work if written well and providing there are too many cliches. I totally agree that whilst I am an avid fan of dragons, there a serious lack of imagination put into other magical creatures alongside these dragons. I so want someone to go all Spiderwick and create a whole bunch of new creatures that look insanely cool!

    Liked by 1 person

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