The Happenstance Hero

I’ve talked, in brief, before on the character type I call the Happenstance Hero. It was when I was talking about tropes I like. However to reiterate, in short what the Happenstance Hero is, is as follows.

In novels there are Chosen Ones. These are characters selected by fate or by the people to save the world, whether they want to or not. These are the Katniss’ (Hunger Games) and the Anakin Skywalkers (Star Wars). There tends to be a prophecy, a need, some sort of decision that is outside the control of the characters.

Then there is the Happenstance Hero, which is a type of chosen one. This is a person who falls into becoming the hero of the series, not because of fate or destiny or because they were chosen, but because they fall into the role. This is Katsa (Graceling) and Falcio (The Greatcoats). They happen to become the hero and it could have been anyone but there is no fate that decides it. There is no great prophecy for them either and they happened upon it.

In the end, a Happenstance Heroes can become Chosen Ones and vice versa is true.

The best examples of this are Frodo and Sam from Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter from Harry Potter. Frodo and Sam are, or rather Frodo is, Chosen and then Happen to become heroes. Harry happens to fit the bill and so he is chosen. Now for Harry this may seem like he was Chosen and then Happened to be, but he was Chosen by his enemy, and it could have been him or Neville. In the end he Happened to become the hero because he was born on a date with specific conditions for his parents, and then he was Chosen.

The largest distinction I can give you between Chosen Ones and Happenstance Heroes, is that one happens by fate and the other happens by chance (respectively).

When Katniss’ sister’s name was chosen, she was destined to become a symbol.

When Mare found out she had powers she was destined to become a symbol.

When Anakin found out he had powers he was destined to fall and then rise again.

Katsa happened to help someone.

Falcio happened to meet the right person who cared.

The two are intertwined often enough, and you may be asking yourself, why is this so important for you to have a whole post about it.

Because I think the distinction is important. Not all Chosen Ones are the same and not all heroes are the same, so when I use the phrase, I wanted it to be easier to find for you all. That’s basically it.

This is a fate vs choice argument. Or a Destiny vs Chance, one. I like both character types, and characters can be multiple types, and sometimes I think it’s important to remember that.

Until Next Time,


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