Here’s the thing about fantasy characters
Fantasy characters can get a bit stale after a while, just like any genre – without variety, the whole thing becomes predictable and a tad boring.
While some of the clichés I mention below tend to apply often in fantasy, it is rare (but not impossible) for all five of them to appear in one story. It can be comforting, like a big cosy blanket, to wrap yourself in a story that is new but oh-so-familiar. Of course, it can also be downright annoying.
Here’s my list of 5 Cliché Male Fantasy Characters
The Chosen One
Somehow, the chosen one, usually the MC of the story, has managed to get to his teens without ever being any the wiser that he’s special. Then, on his sixteenth birthday, something awful happens. Probably, someone tries to kill him. Suddenly his life changes, whirling him into a world of magic and history that he never comprehended existed and he finds out that he is at the centre of the whole shebang. Without his particular power (which he has to learn to master by a deadline) the world is doomed.
The Wise Mentor
Ah, the wise mentor. Usually a man past his prime who seems to get his jollies making mystical statements and speaking in riddles. Finally shows he is an epic fighter / wielder of magic / secret royalty when the MC, tired of all the mumbo jumbo, does something stupid and endangers themselves. Wise Mentor probably dies protecting them, managing to impart a last word of cryptic wisdom before breathing his last and leaving the MC stronger and more determined than before to take his place in the world.
The Secret Heir
All his life, he’s known he is the heir to the throne. A select group of loyal royalists protect and serve him, but he feels nothing but guilt and pressure. All he wants is to be normal, dangit! Finally, world events will begin to overtake him and he’ll realise that he can die trying, or die cowering. A newfound confidence will surge through his veins and he’ll leap into the fray, ready to take his rightful place and live the life he was born to live.
The Super Warrior
This guy has spent his entire life in training to be better. Better at everything to do with fighting. He has experience untold, is ingenious in the ways of war and can probably win against an army all by his lonesome (except he is never allowed to by the author, because that would be ridiculous. Even though he could.) He takes down more bad guys in the space of ten minutes than an army 10,000 strong, has good initiative but also takes orders well. Not really a leader, but loves to be a member of the supporting cast. Never has any ambition besides being an awesome warrior and never realises that his offensive powers could probably net him the throne, if he fancied it.
The Why Me Hero
Possibly the most annoying of all the fantasy characters ever. The ‘Why me?’ question, when asked regularly and without ever getting a satisfactory answer, is enough to drive anyone to eventual madness. The reader, the MC, all the supporting cast. Everyone goes crazy in the end. Until of course, the MC has a flash of realisation that results in them accepting that fate has bigger things in mind for them, regardless of their personal feelings on the matter. They suck it up and stop asking the question, replacing it instead with suddenly well-controlled kick-ass powers and calm, rational thought.
What do you think about my list? Did I miss anyone out? Do you think I’m being unfair? Does fantasy require a certain familiarity to balance the new world of magic the reader is thrust into? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.