Here are 50 Fantasy Tropes used in Fiction: Fantasy fiction allows authors to build magical worlds limited only by imagination. From swords and sorcery epics to supernatural romance, fantasy stories transport us to places where anything is possible.
As a fantasy writer, having a strong grasp of common fantasy elements and tropes can help add depth and familiar touchstones for readers. Tropes are devices that become conventions in certain genres due to their repeated use. Rather than cliches, when used purposefully, tropes give structure and help set reader expectations.
In this post, I want to overview 50 of the most popular fantasy fiction tropes. Whether you’re just getting started writing fantasy or a seasoned veteran, this master list can spark new story ideas and allow you to analyze your own use of classic fantasy motifs. Keep reading for the ultimate fantasy writer’s trope guide spanning hero archetypes, magic systems, mystical objects, fantastical races, mystical settings, and more.
Let me know in the comments which of these fantasy tropes are your favorites, and the ones showing up most in your own writing!
Here are 50 Fantasy Tropes used in Fiction:
- The chosen one – A character who is destined to save the world or defeat a great evil.
- A magic school – A school for magical arts exists where the character goes to study and train.
- The wise old mentor – A powerful mentor figure helps train/guide the hero.
- The dark lord – An ultimate evil or antagonist that stirs up trouble in the world
- A magic sword – The hero wields an enchanted blade with magical properties and powers.
- A magical creature sidekick – A unicorn, dragon, sprite, etc. joins the hero on the journey
- A quest – The hero must journey to obtain some object or defeat some evil.
- A magical world – The story is set in a world where magic is real and commonplace.
- Fated love – Two characters are destined to fall in love, often overcoming obstacles.
- The forbidden forest – The protagonists venture into the magical, imposing forest.
- A magical object – The use of a magic ring, wand, amulet, chalice, or similar item.
- Magical creatures – Appearance of elves, dwarves, goblins, orcs, trolls, etc.
- The outcast hero – The hero is a misfit in some way and doesn’t fit in.
- A lost heir – the hero discovers they are the heir to royalty/power.
- Healing magic – Magic that can heal injuries and plagues.
- Nature magic – Magic tied to the elements or forces of nature.
- Prophecy – A prediction about the hero or what will come to pass.
- Portal to another world – The hero stumbles into a magical world like Narnia.
- Talking animals – Animals like cats, wolves, horses that can talk to humans.
- Rags to riches – Character starts off poor but comes into power.
- Coming of age – The hero journeys from childhood to adulthood.
- The supreme ruler – An empress, emperor, king or queen rules the land.
- Evil queen/king – A tyrannical monarch that needs to be overthrown.
- Magical immortals – Creatures that can’t die or live for millennia, like elves.
- Knightly orders – Noble knights with codes of honor and chivalry, like the Jedi.
- Robes and cloaks – Magicians and wizards in strange capes and robes.
- Royal intrigue – The drama of royal courts with battles for the throne.
- Secret prince/princess – Character that doesn’t know their true identity as royalty.
- Enchanted sleep – Someone put into long cursed magical slumber, like Sleeping Beauty.
- Discovery of powers – The hero finds they have magical abilities they didn’t know about before.
- Floating islands/castles – Islands or structures floating improbably in the air without support.
- Skyships – Sailing ships that fly through the air on magic.
- Dark magic – Magic used for sinister, evil, or destructive ends.
- Ancient magic – Old magic from a long lost mysterious civilization.
- Fairy godmother – Powerful magical being who acts as a protector and granter of wishes.
- Strange lands – A bizarre landscape like an inverted world, carnivorous forest, planet of desserts, etc.
- Mythical creatures – Unicorns, dragons, phoenixes, griffins, etc.
- Animals as guides – Hero is aided on quest by clever speaking animal.
- Wizard’s familiar – Pet animal imbued with magical powers.
- Hidden magical community – Community of magic users living secretly among humans.
- Necromancy – Magic involving the dead, like resurrection or talking to spirits.
- Royalty joining the hero’s party – Hero aided by an adventurous prince/princess escaping royal duties.
- Transformation magic – Shapeshifting magic or casting transformation spells like frog prince.
- Wish magic – Word magic that grants wishes, often with a twist or peril.
- Giant creatures – Outsized animals, men, or monsters like giants and huge dragons.
- Angelic guardians – Hero has a guardian angel who can give advice or limited help.
- Demons – Evil spirits who make deals, possess bodies, or trick people into damnation.
- Hell dimensions – Journeying to hell dimensions/underworlds and returning.
- Immortality – Obtaining immortality through quests like the Holy Grail.
- Godlike powers – Mortals ascending to godhood and supreme magical power.
We hope you enjoyed these 50 Fantasy Tropes used in Fiction, the most time-honored fantasy fiction tropes all fantasy authors should know! As you build out worlds of magic and imagination, consider how you might incorporate some of these tried and true fantasy elements or even subvert reader expectations around them. Knowing fantasy tropes well can help you intentionally play with the conventions of the genre. Let the master fantasy trope list be your trusty guide, but don’t be afraid to put your own twist on these motifs to develop truly original tales. Feel free to bookmark and reference this post whenever you need fresh fantasy inspiration or ideas for drafting fantasy novels or short stories. And as always, happy worldbuilding!
If you liked our list, please leave us a comment, and we have many other writing tips on our site if you are interested.