Happiness Is Only Real When Shared If there’s a single idea that I simply can’t stand in fiction…by which, I can’t or can only just bear to read it’s the concept of The Chosen One.
And I find it difficult to articulate exactly why.
I think in part because it’s so easy. Once you know that this story has a Chosen One, you know the Chosen One wins. Even in Star Wars, when the Chosen One goes evil, he still gets what he wants. Well, okay, that’s not the best example, because I’ve never been a very big fan and I’ve only seen the original trilogy (the ‘good’ one) in bits and pieces, though I think I’ve seen more of it. And that’s the story after the Chosen One’s story is over.
So the Chosen One always wins. That removes a significant layer of tension right there. Not that you don’t know most protagonists are going to win, or at least survive, in genre fiction. It’s conventional storytelling, and I don’t mind that. But Chosen Ones are born through prophecy, which by definition is true. And with some (even if vague) detail. Which is more information than I really want to know.
And worse, what the Chosen One does is right. I think that’s my biggest issue. Because it’s the Chosen One. He or She is going to save the world, has to be the one to save the world, and so no one else can tell them no. Generally, they can’t be wrong. Even if they make bad choices, the absolute worse consequence is a slap on the wrist.
Okay, so I confess I haven’t actually read many Chosen One stories. I tend not to be a big fan of genres that use that trope, and I avoid those stories that use it.
But I realized recently that I stopped reading Harry Potter when the Harry Potter as *the* Chosen One showed up. Not that he wasn’t all along, but in some ways that could be justified by chance, accident. Lord Voldemort can’t kill him by the Power Of Love (which I also find a more than a little aggravating, because it’s so passive in that instance) and Harry has to deal with it. Instead, it turns out that all along Harry has been the Chosen One, and is the only one who can destroy Lord Voldemort. Yeah, there was some ‘confusion’ if it could be Neville, but since Harry Potter main character and what it says on the tin, even the other (good) characters don’t consider it.
I haven’t read even the fifth book and after all the commercialization, really have no interest in the series anymore. It makes me sad, but that’s the way it goes. I have read both defenses and attacks on the later books, and I have to say the attackers have stronger arguments.
Maybe it’s not as bad as that. But I’ve been burned enough, and unless it’s the most awesomest of awesome books ever—and feel free to leave recommendations—the concept of the Chosen One is the idea that up with which I will not put.