Since I’ve been a bit controversial with my previous blog posts, I volunteered to talk about one of my most favorite tropes in fantasy ever – THE CHOSEN ONE!
It doesn’t matter which form it takes—chosen for this destiny, chosen for that fate, chosen to be with this guy/gal, chosen to destroy that world, chosen to save it. I don’t care if the character was chosen to eat a very specific pizza just to have the best damn meal of their life…
Chosen Ones hit me in the feels.
And I believe it’s because this trope hits on key threads all humans can understand.
Chosen Ones have a place and a purpose. There is no meandering through life and adventure when there is something to be done. The understanding is that there is a goal, a destination, and the Chosen One will reach it at some point or another.
Chosen Ones are typically being guided, or they feel like they are. In relation to that “no meandering” part, this implies a higher self, a god, or a guardian of some sort protecting them, looking out for them, walking them on a specific path meant solely for them. And it’s usually used in an endearing way like a parent-child relationship.
Chosen Ones usually only have to have faith in themselves. And when they do, the pieces they were missing magically fall into place, and they are victorious.
Chosen Ones are born special. Whether or not they know they are, being a “chosen one” means they were an outlier at some point, and it usually goes back to just being born that way. (Most recent example would be The Umbrella Academy on Netflix. No spoilers. This is literally given away in the trailer.)
Reading about Chosen Ones is a guilty pleasure for most of us. Sometimes, it hits us in our most vulnerable spots. Some of us don’t want to hear that we’re regular, average, carbon-based organisms no more important than the amoeba in that rain puddle in the street.
Some of us are bothered by the idea of nothing guiding our hand or looking out for us. We recognize our own fragility, our own weaknesses, and we rightfully mistrust ourselves in a lot of our decision making.
It takes us decades to trust our own intuition, thoughts, and beliefs. For some of us, it takes us our entire lives if at all. And a lot of us want to believe that we can do great things for humankind as a whole. That even if we’re alone in the great wide universe, that we are made of star-stuff, and that’s pretty special.
“The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.”
― Carl Sagan
The market, especially books and YA, has been inundated with a million Chosen One stories. My guess would be that we have Harry Potter and the resurgence of superheroes to thank for it. And the idea of Chosen Ones has been spat on a lot for being too fictional or too lazy.
And there’s something to be said about how easy it can be to be born special with a preordained destiny. I mean, that’s partially why we read it, so that criticism is probably fair.
I have yet to write a Chosen One despite loving the trope. I find it just as important to show that characters with grit, determination, and motivation can achieve great things. That despite a million and one pitfalls, they get right back up, not because their destiny says so, but because they must. I like showing that if there is nothing guiding us, we can still do the right thing. We can trust ourselves to be our best, to overcome, to persist.
…Characters with grit, determination, and motivation can achieve great things. That despite a million and one pitfalls, they get right back up, not because their destiny says so, but because they must.
But I think the answer has to be balance and acceptance, right? We need both, and I give you permission, as a totally regular person, to love both.
If someone needs to read about someone facing fears and struggles without knowing the outcome, then so be it. If someone needs to believe they’re special to do what’s right, does it matter? If someone loves destiny and fate and guiding forces, does it hurt anything if they’re believing it while helping humankind? I think that loving Chosen Ones means they enjoy living vicariously through characters who don’t have to jump through the same hoops they do to figure out life.
And isn’t that what all stories are supposed to do? Help us figure out life?
Let me know in the comments if you love Chosen One stories, and why or why not!
About the Author
Ryan grew up a military brat, managed to teach middle school in Texas for a spell, and finally settled in the southeastern US with her husband, their daughter, and two black cats. She loves writing determined heroines who answer the call for wild adventures across rich lands with grit and smarts. When she’s not inventing worlds for her characters, she games, draws, paints, and uses too many exclamation points.
Reach her at:
- Website: www.ryanmuree.com
- Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/ryanmuree
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/legitRyanMuree/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/RyanMuree
- Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/ryanmuree/
If you dig fantasy and enjoy YA adventures, Ryan wrote a non-Chosen One epic fantasy with a strong leading lady called The Last Elixir.
Shenna is forced to watch her loved ones disintegrate before her very eyes.
As an apprentice potioner, seventeen-year-old Shenna has been training to cure the Necrophaise disease for most of her life. The answer is an immortality elixir, and the key ingredient is rumored to exist outside the walls of Eien in the war-torn and deadly land of Revellis.
When her fellow potioner returns from Revellis empty handed and near death, Shenna volunteers to be the next potioner to search for the ingredient. Her mentor warns her it’s a suicide mission, and the search proves her right. Desert beasts hunt Shenna for the water in her body. Armies kill and destroy everything in their path. And a Revellian conqueror is hungry to inhale Shenna’s essence.
But Shenna is not without allies. She meets new friends, and a questionable, yet handsome, thief promises to steal her heart… eventually. As the Revellian war closes in around them, Shenna must rely on her potions and her friends if she hopes to survive and keep Eien from vanishing into light and dust.