Last week, I talked about five tropes I dislike and why I don’t care for them. But just because I don’t particularly like them doesn’t mean they’re bad, or that they can’t be done well.
And just to prove that exact point, this week’s topic is the Top Five ‘Bad’ Tropes Done Well, because even story elements I don’t like can be used in some absolutely fantastic ways.
Top Five Tropes ‘Bad’ Tropes Done Well
Minor Spoiler Warning for all books mentioned below
I love to complain about the pointless drama in a love triangle, but The Hunger Games is my go-to when I want to see one done right. And what I mean by that is: it’s not the entire focus of the story.
More to the point, there’s actual tension concerning who Katniss will choose, unlike some other stories. And because there’s also a freaking rebellion going on and a lot of people are dying, so she’s a bit distracted right now.
Props for knowing where your priorities should be, Katniss.
This trope may not be anything new or exciting today, but when it works, it works. And Tolkien, our Granddaddy of Fantasy, really makes it work.
Aragorn is the Rightful King, and his return to the throne shows us that goodness and light have returned to the land, and everything has finally been set right for the first time since the forging of the One Ring.
As a plot, this trope is tired, but here, it’s satisfying and heartwarming, signifying that everything that was sacrificed and fought for was worth it in the end for good to prevail.
I have no sympathy for anyone who complains about being super-special while I’m stuck out here paying taxes instead of slaying dragons.
Except maybe for Agni in Uprooted, because wow does she have it rough.
She gets magical powers, sure, but also has to deal with the deadliest forest this side of Mirkwood that is determined to kill her and everyone she knows and loves. And that’s not even mentioning that she has to deal with the royals and all their politics.
Yeah, I don’t blame her for not wanting to be part of that mess.
If there’s an exception to the rule when it comes to me and grimdark, it was probably written by Mark Lawrence. I’ve reviewed some of his books before and, especially in my favourite (so far) Red Sister, he still manages to make me care about what happens to the characters and (almost always) giving them redeeming qualities as well as monstrous ones.
I can’t help it but love it, because it reminds me of everything that’s actually great about grimdark. When the world is a dark and terrible place we focus on the things that truly matter to us. And protect them with everything we have.
I have mixed feelings about a lot of Game of Thrones, but one thing I love is G. R. R. Martin’s clear subversion of the idea of a Chosen One. Not only do you have multiple prophecies about multiple super-special Chosen Ones, there’s also a Chosen One who dies.
It presents a new perspective on the Chosen One trope: Can prophecy be thwarted? Are there multiple Chosen Ones? Or can prophecies overlap in an endless Venn Diagram of Destiny?
So many questions with so many possible answers; which is exactly why I love this version of the trope.
Are there any tropes here you enjoy as well? Or am I completely wrong here? Let me know in the comments below.
Thanks for reading everyone!