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  • J. J. Hanna

The Chosen One

Updated: Dec 11, 2019

Don't we all just love a good "Chosen One" trope?

This is a trope my friends and I laughed about in a PWR Studios video, feel free to watch it if you want a laugh. It always brings a smile to my face.

But today I want to talk about why the Chosen One trope exists. More specifically, I want to talk about why readers do actually love the Chosen One trope.

This is a trope most used in fantasy, but aspects of it bleed over into other genres as well. Essentially, this is a story in which there is one character destined to (probably) save the world.

They're usually a young person looking to find their way in this cruel world.

This trope is generally accompanied by others, such as the Mentor Figure trope or a good Enemies to Lovers trope. But I'm not talking about those tropes today. Today, I'm talking about the Chosen One.

We see it in Harry Potter. We see it in Lord of the Rings. The Hobbit. Percy Jackson. Narnia (though in this case there are approximately four chosen ones.)

However, as I said earlier, this trope bleeds over to other genres. Some modern examples in dystopian fiction include The Darkest Minds, The Hunger Games, and Divergent.

One person, usually a young person or young adult struggling to find their place in the world, is approached and given the opportunity to change everything and find their full potential, and likely go and overthrow a government or two.

So why do readers like this trope? Why do we love reading about lost characters becoming the spark that starts a revolution? (Sorry, looking at you Katniss.)

Because it's the ultimate underdog tale.

They're lost. They're normal. They might be making mundane decisions about what they hope their future will look like. And they're given the power to change the world. They're given importance, whether they want it or not. Something about them is different or unique enough that they have massive potential hidden just below the surface.

And really, who of us doesn't want to have massive potential hidden just below the surface, waiting to be unlocked by the right twist of fate?

Deep down, humanity is made of dreamers. We long for significance. We long for meaning. We hope that maybe one day we'll be as significant as the chosen ones in our literature, those normal people who ended up in the position to change everything.

We see this trope in film as well:

Luke Skywalker. Aang. The Doctor (and to that end, the Doctor's Companion). The Winchester Brothers.

We see this theme in Biblical Stories as well.

David. Esther. Joseph. Moses. Abraham. Jesus. Mary.

This trope exists because everyone longs for the validation of the potential we believe is inside us. "If only my boss would see how good I am at this." Or, "If only my family realized how much work I did around here." Or, "Why can't my friends just support me for once? Don't they see how good this idea is?"

The truth is we all have that potential. Collectively, I think we would all benefit from voicing the potential we see in others. Don't assume they know.

And if you're a writer, feel free to use this trope. Yes, it's a trope. But that's okay. Tropes exist for a reason. Don't let a trope stop you from writing what's on your heart.


J. J. Hanna graduated from Taylor University with a degree in Professional Writing. She's currently working with literary agent Cyle Young, learning to be a literary agent, and working as a freelance writer and editor. To hire her for editing, writing, speaking, or consulting, see the services tab. In her free time, she can be found cuddling with a cat, reading the latest suspense novel, or filming YouTube videos about the publishing industry.

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