How cliché can I go with the chosen one theme?

As in… for some reason being the only one chosen with great power that needs to be used to combat enemies and being able to have access to stuff the other characters never could, never will. At what point does that seem too much trope-y for you? And how should I avoid it, while keeping that theme?

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How trope-y do you want it to be?

In all seriousness, a cliché in service to the story is only bad if it is used in a way that explicitly takes the reader out of the story and makes them go, “Oh, it’s this plot device.”

A cliché is shorthand. It introduces you to the familiar form of an idea or set of ideas you want to communicate. As long as you don’t lean too heavily on clichés, you’ll do just fine if a few slip in.

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When it occurs for no reason whatsoever, and the chosen one, due to their increased abilities in one area, suddenly become superhuman in every other unrelated area as well. It’s fine if the character themselves believe that having “a great power” means they’re an awesome person and capable of everything, but not fine when the author basically makes them infallible because they’ve been chosen for one thing.

Probably an over-used example, but in Harry Potter, there’s a reason (although a semi-trope-y one with prophecies and whatnot) that he’s the chosen one, and he hasn’t just woken up with it because the gods used a randomiser. He’s also very ordinary at times, and his status of being the chosen one (and his uncommon abilities) don’t preclude normal character flaws from existing. There’re also the discussions that he himself is really not as much of a hero as other characters, even though they don’t have his abilities.

In summary, if you’re concerned about it, maybe just try to a) make it somewhat believable and have some logic to it, and b) make sure the person (or animal or robot or whatever) still has flaws regardless of their chosen status.

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Trope it up. You can never be too cliche. :slight_smile:

As long as you have a good and interesting, readers will like it. And it doesn’t have to be original for it to be interesting. Tropes work if you make it funny or do something with it. You can invert the tropes or you can ham it up. Or you can use several tropes but keep the focus and the readers attention on what is original in your story.

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If you’re intentionally making a stereotypical story for comedic purposes, the more absurd and generic, the better. And you could also throw in the occasional plot twists which break the expectations of the player once in a while if you’re up for it

But if the story is aiming for some sense of immersion then I’d suggest making sure the player knows the world doesn’t revolve around the MC specifically

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The way I see it, you have two choices before you:

  1. Use it as a plot device, but be sure to be discrete and make your story unique in its own way and don’t rely on it for plot. So for example, don’t just blurt out “Oh look, the chosen one!” Perhaps you can get away with it once in the beginning, but if you keep using it as an excuse for not adding depth to your story, it gets annoying.

  2. Use it so much to the point that you’re pretty much parodying it, which makes the cliché interesting. Example: Possibly make a choice where the player can ask “How come no one else can fight them?” and have like a mentor or something just say something along the lines of “Just shut up and do it, okay kid?” or have literally EVERYONE refer to them as “The Chosen One”, maybe even let the player choose to get annoyed by it or something. :laughing:

Those are my thoughts on it, I’m just speaking from a reader’s perspective, so don’t take anything I’ve taken as sacred scripture or anything.

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There’s nothing wrong with a Chosen One story. There are plenty of good ones out there to draw inspiration from.

Good Chosen One stories tend to examine what it’s like to have all that responsibility/mythology placed on you.

Bad ones use it to make the plot happen.

Dune, for example, is a great examination of what it might be to have people see you as a Chosen One savior figure.

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Paul Atreides vs Jedi Mind Trick:

dune

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Try looking into that place where you dare not look! You’ll find me there, staring back at you!

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There are a few clever ways I’ve seen to get around the “chosen one” cliche, and still have your idea be unique and taken seriously. Here’s a few suggestions.

  1. The character is only “the chosen one” by accident, due to someone else’s actions. (I’ve seen this done very well in an anime called Madoka Magica. A girl with seemingly nothing special about is discovered to have unlimited potential as a “Magical Girl”. In the end though, it turns out that there’s nothing special about her. The reason she has so much potential is because one of her friends turned back time to save her life several times, and since the fabric of time has been effected in order to save her, that’s why she’s so important.)

  2. The mistaken chosen one. “So… You know how everybody told you that you were the chosen one since the day you were born… Well, turns out it was your weedy younger brother all along. Our bad! Hope this didn’t leave you scarred for life.” :yum:

  3. The prophecy was made up. Like the awesome plot twist to The Lego Movie. The prophecy of the chosen one who was destined to save the world from evil… Yeah, I made that up… But I guess you can still save the world from evil, if you really want to.

  4. Misinterpreted prophecy. Like in Star Wars (don’t think I really need to blur this one.) So, the prophecy said that Anakin would bring balance to the force, sure… But they kind of missed out the part about him turning to the dark-side and murdering all the jedi… Kind of a crucial detail there. You think they’d have included it in the small print. :yum:

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Tropes, just like many other elements of a story, is a tool to create your story. There’s nothing bad by using a trope in your story, even the most cliché one, but handwaving and not exploring it is bad.


This is a bad use of “The Chosen One” trope. Nothing interesting is happening even though you possess the greatest power a man could ever have.

However, if you can mix something interesting, than your story will be… more interesting.

  • Oh, for some reason, you failed your first task as the chosen one and gone M.I.A. A new chosen one takes your place. What will happen?

  • You’re the chosen one and everyone is now expecting more from you. How’s your reaction?

  • The prophecy tells of a figure that pulls the sword and use it to slay the beast. Many tries to pull the weapon and figure out who is this… figure, yet everyone failed. One night, you dreamt of yourself as the one who pulls the sword, and slain the beast. Will you accept this foreshadowing?


In the end, it’s not about the cliché. Rather, it’s the use of the trope (and being creative).

There’s actually an episode from Terrible Writing Advice which is specifically not terrible. I’ll try to post the link once I can get my hand to my laptop.
Which is inside my backpack xP

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Another point to avoid:

Nothing about a chosen one breaks a story faster than when everyone and everything around them requires them to exist. Granted, it works when THAT is the point, but in general:

If the big bad’s plan, for example, for some reason centers around the chosen one, despite having ALL and BETTER means to get their goal… maybe rethink why the MC is the chosen one.
If people prove entirely incapable of getting anything done without the MC, rethink.

And worst of all: When all characters that don’t worship the MC are by that action evil and/or cannon fodder.

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There is nothing wrong with doing a hero’s journey style story it’s been done hundreds of times if not more and it’s a genre that people want to read, just look at how many chosen one stories are currently in film and literature. What you have to do is to try and think of a unique way of taking the same scenes and arch’s that people have before and putting a spin on them that no-one has done before.

Hope this helps.

I like the idea of a reverse chosen one. Someone who is destined to end the world instead of saving it.

Imagine being a young child who as soon as you were old enough your parents tell you that you are destined to destroy the world. That’d be a tough thing to deal with and you would likely be mistreated by others two.

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Have you read Good Omens?

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No I haven’t? It’s a Neil Gaiman book though iirc

Yeah.
It sorta has that theme going. Sorta

I love the whole “Chosen One” theme,always have…always will. No bigger rush then being the instrument of Fate and having a huge impact on the world,in victory or defeat. At least as a fictional character.

Thanks for the advice! It’s good to know that people hate it when other characters are completely disregarded and often cannon fodder just for the MC’s development. I don’t really like that either, and currently thinking of ways to have characters contribute to the plot to help the MC and themselves instead of just setting it up for the MC to do themselves.

I dunno. I was thinking more along the lines of… the MC does not want to be the “chosen one” who saves the world, and although they can’t avoid it they do not follow that path, but the path always ends up forcing them on the road until eventually they are forced to accept it.

This has been done many times, but I’m also thinking of having a prophecy turn out false set up by the villain in order for their plans to come to greater fruition.

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