PubCrawl Podcast: Archetypes – The Chosen One

This week Kelly and JJ kick off their Summer of Archetypes with The Chosen One. What constitutes a Chosen One narrative? What are some examples? What are examples of a subverted Chosen One? CAN you truly subvert a Chosen One narrative? Also, our gripes with the TV show LOST.

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Show Notes

  • As we define it, the Chosen One is The One Who Solves the Story Problem, or a singular character with a Greater Purpose.
  • Some examples of Chosen Ones:
    • Harry Potter
    • Hercules and other Greek demigods
    • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • Frodo Baggins
    • Katniss Everdeen
    • Luke Skywalker
  • The Chosen One may or may not be “divinely” or supernaturally ordained, e.g. Frodo and Katniss are not the subject/object of a prophecy, unlike Harry Potter. Regardless of whether fate plays a hand in the choosing of the One, it is when the character takes up the responsibility to defeat The Big Bad that they become a Chosen One.
  • Is the Chosen One overdone? That is subjective (obviously). Both Kelly and JJ enjoy a well-executed Chosen One story. As we said in our previous Archetypes, Tropes, and Cliches podcast, it’s when tropes become shorthand is when they become cliche.
  • Can you successfully subvert the Chosen One narrative? JJ is not so sure; most attempts to subvert the Chosen One narrative end up playing straight into the trope anyway (e.g. Un Lun Dun by China Mieville). However, Chosen One characters can be a subversion of expectations. Deeba, the unChosen one of Un Lun Dun is a subversion because she’s the sidekick/best friend, she’s not white, etc. Buffy Summers of Buffy the Vampire Slayer started out as a subversion as well (the “first girl to die in a horror movie” because she’s blonde and a cheerleader). Both of these narratives ended up playing the trope straight.

What We’re Working On

  • Kelly is working on agenting stuff
  • JJ is resting from book 2, but is itching to get back to it and fix it. She’s also waiting for news on her secret project.

Books Discussed/What We’re Reading

Off Menu Recommendations

That’s all for this week! Next week we’ll continue our Summer of Archetypes, continuing with the Fatal Flaw! As always if you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below, send us an ask on Tumblr, or tweet using the hashtag #askpubcrawl!

One Response to PubCrawl Podcast: Archetypes – The Chosen One

  1. Marc Vun Kannon Jul 26 2017 at 8:59 pm #

    Not sure I agree with your definition. A chosen one should be chosen, not just the last man standing. I’m not so sure he can choose himself, either. I’ve always thought of chosen ones as being chosen by some power of the Universe long before they even existed. As in Touched by the Gods, where the gods always have a Champion among men, even if one of them finagles the choice to an unexpected and unsuitable person, in order to pave the way for his own return to power. Harry Potter and Luke Skywalker are a bit dodgier, chosen by association, so to speak. I’ve never read the later Potter books, so if there is a real prophecy in the works I don’t know about it. If anybody was Chosen in LOTR it was Gandalf, who was supposed to be the White, and leader of the Council, not Saruman. And of course Sam, chosen by Gandalf to accompany Frodo.
    I’m a big fan of books that turn tropes like this upside-down. In the Destiny of the Sword trilogy, the hero of the book is chosen by the gods to be the man who teaches the man, chosen by the gods to be the emperor, how to be an emperor. In Black Easter, the Antichrist is not aware that he is the Antichrist until after he’s brought about Armageddon. I think there’s a book called Shadow’s Fall which is very similar. Would Monty Python’s Life of Brian qualify as a subversion of the narrative?
    On the other side, I’ve seen stories where the heroes are literally chosen at the last minute, where the prophecy or whatever is bound to a place and a time, rather than a person. My own first novel implies something like that, and there’s another novel I read that mentions something about dozens or hundreds of heroes starting out, with only a few surviving to be where they’re needed. A very interesting topic.

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