The fantasy genre has always been beloved and has lately seen a resurgence, especially on TV. There are numerous television shows set in various different lands with magical beings that audiences enjoy, but sometimes they end up using some very tired tropes in the writing, which make audiences cringe rather than enjoy the story.
From House of The Dragon to Shadow and Bone, these shows have used some formulas which are lazy and even offensive, like disrespecting women and assigning the clichéd Chosen One to save their world. Since fantasy has no limits on where and what it can depict, showrunners would do well to imagine new plotlines and tropes to better these fan-favorite shows.
10 Too Many Unnecessary New Characters
Fantasy shows can be sprawling in their settings and lore, which is why they may have more characters than other TV show genres usually do. Fans enjoy new entrants that add to the plot, but sometimes new characters are introduced for little to no reason, irritating fans who keep track of them for the sake of the storyline.
Apart from following some cringy teen tropes, The Vampire Diaries and The Originals were guilty of doing this. New vampires and villains were always being circulated through these shows, only for them to die quickly and without consequence, or to be forgotten about completely.
9 Women As Pawns
In TV magical worlds, especially the medieval European type, women are not given much respect. This is a trope that can easily be done away with, after all, everything about these worlds is imaginary so making women valuable members of society is not such a big stretch.
Game of Thrones may have episodes with 100% Rotten Tomatoes scores, but many viewers had issues with how women and minorities were subjected to gratuitous violence for no good reason. Women can be equal members in these shows, and not just political or sexual pawns to be subjugated. This kind of thinking is passé.
8 Stereotyping Species
The fantasy genre has a habit of dealing in binaries like good vs. evil, man vs. woman, and so on. Morality is something that is either black or white in these shows, which can be a rather simplistic way of viewing things. Too many times, whole species of people and creatures are painted in a single shade, making them homogenous and boring.
The Rings of Power might not have had Hobbits in it, but it had their ancestors, the Harfoots, who were also stereotyped into certain personalities. The Harfoots were cute and shy, they loved food (like their descendants) and generally had the same personality. Similarly, the Eleves were all ethereal and otherworldly. It might have been nice to provide some heterogeneity among the species.
7 The Chosen One / The Character Who Is The Key To Everything
The Chosen One is a character that has been overused and underdeveloped, thus making it a trope that fantasy fans want to stay away from at all costs. Funnily enough, it is a storyline that countless shows and movies continue to use to date, despite how old and outdated it has become.
Shadow and Bone has Alina Starkov as the mythical Sun Summoner who can overcome the Shadow Fold, Wednesday has the titular heroine destined to destroy Joseph Crackstone, and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina makes Sabrina the key to everything as Lucifer’s own daughter. This trope has been recycled so many times in even the most binge-worthy fantasy shows that viewers just want to see something different.
6 The Anti-Hero Is Always Forgiven
Anti-heroes are not held up to very high standards in fantasy shows, especially if they are charismatic. It is quite cringeworthy to see outright villains forgiven for their past sins if they claim to have changed, or get romantically involved with a main character. These anti-heroes are usually men.
They never get punished for their past sins; in fact, they keep doing abhorrent things but are glorified or excused. Klaus in The Originals and Daemon Targaryen in House of The Dragon are just a couple of examples of this trope in action in some of the biggest fantasy shows. Accountability is cooler than enthralling men who sweep heroines off their feet.
5 Heroes Singlehandedly Fighting Off Armies
The hero fighting off an army by himself makes for exceptionally cinematic and awe-inspiring visuals, but it stretches the imagination too far and makes viewers cringe sometimes. It is humanly impossible for one individual to take on an entire army and defeat them, and this trope defies logic in a way that can’t be taken seriously.
The most recent example of this was the Battle in the Stepstones in House of the Dragon where inexplicably, Daemon Targaryen went alone and barely shielded, made it to the Crabfeeder, and killed him singlehandedly, too. The plot armor here insulted the audience’s intelligence just a bit too much.
4 Characters Dying & Coming Back To Life Repeatedly
Shocking TV character deaths don’t astonish fans anymore, because people have a way of resurrecting from the dead in fantasy TV. If it is a one-off situation, fans can still accept it, but some shows made it a habit to kill off important characters, and subsequently bring them back to life a few episodes later.
This kind of killing and resurrecting doesn’t work for more than a few scenes and takes away from the gravity of character deaths in the show. Then, viewers don’t care who lives or dies as they’re bound to make it back, making the show predictable and boring. Supernatural leaned on this trope heavily.
3 Unnecessary Steamy Scenes That Don’t Add To The Plot
Romance is integral to many fantasy plots, but there has been a trend in adding “smut” or steamy scenes to many TV shows. When used judiciously, these scenes definitely add some flavor to a fantasy show, but can also become a cheap tactic to grab eyeballs and a larger audience.
The unnecessary use of sex and intimacy is not a good look for fantasy shows, especially those meant for young adults. The Witcher has several sex scenes which are a bit too graphic for comfort, but Game of Thrones remains the worst offender. Thankfully, the prequel House of The Dragon has scaled back on sex scenes, and the plot is better for it.
2 Human Characters Clinging To Humanity
Fantasy shows that deal with other supernatural species, especially vampires or werewolves, feel a weird compulsion to make the main characters cling to their humanity, even if it doesn’t make sense. On one hand, these shows glorify these alluring creatures to no end but feel that the protagonist has to steadfastly remain human, even if it doesn’t make sense.
It would be refreshing to see a female protagonist actually want to cross over to the dark side instead of always trying to skirt around it. True Blood irritated fans hugely when Sookie dealt with vampires for years, and was a faerie herself, but chose an ordinary life with humans instead of embracing her powers and uniqueness.
1 The Instant Expert At Everything
The main character does not always have to be the best at everything, but the fantasy genre tends to make them that way almost every time. These characters are so gifted that they immediately pick up skills that others took years to hone, or naturally become the best at magic, a sport, fighting, or any other activities.
These characters are complete novices who become experts overnight, which can be a bit awkward and nonsensical to see. It may be better to humanize the protagonist and make them an Everyman, instead of extraordinarily great at everything under the sun.
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