Check out the prologue to "Alone In The Light" by clicking here

An excerpt from: Alone In The Light

Sunday, September 24, 2023

The Chosen One

So, hear me out on this - A while ago, I was on the internet and someone had a post about why "The Chosen One" is always a teenager... and not a grown person with the ability to be rational or something.

Hang on... searching... okay, here is the original post:

So that got me thinking about the different stories and whatnot that surround these types of characters. And now I'm going to bore you with my thoughts on the matter. What is a "Chosen One" and how are they portrayed in movies and the like. And there are some not-good posts about this on the internet. People are actually getting paid to write bad articles... SHAME ON YOU!

There are two main definitions of "The Chosen One" trope:

1: A trope where one character, usually the protagonist, is framed as the inevitable hero or antihero of the story, as a result of destiny, unique gifts, and/or special lineage. *see Douglas Adams's quote above.

2: A trope used in writing where a single character is in charge of saving the world or society they live in.

The second one is basically the first one, but without the important bits. Look, I'm not here to yuck anyone's yum. But there is a difference between "being chosen" and "being the main character."

To me, the idea of fitting into the trope of "The Chosen One" is that you were cosmically, magically, futuristically pre-determined to be important in the course of the development or saving of humanity, a people, an organization... Football club... I don't know. It's still early. (Definition 1) 
Example is DUNE - which is a socio-political concept in which the Bene Gesserit sisterhood was mixing and tweaking bloodlines for centuries to bring out Kwisatz Haderach to be like, "I'm here. Let the spice orgies begin!"

Then there are the books where people are CHOSEN and used to further the goals of the government, an organization, or some fancy school that doesn't worry about horrific dismemberment. Looking at you Hogwarts. 
And we have a SHITLOAD of stories where the main character isn't so much as the CHOSEN ONE, but rather The One We Chose To Use. (which, semantically speaking is the same... but again, it's early.) Where people say, "Hey that kid did a horrifically dangerous thing and survived! Let's milk that money-wagon!" 

First, I did a search on the ole Googler for movies that fit the trope of "Chosen One" and I am more than a little dismayed at the results.

Luke Skywalker — Star Wars Original Trilogy (teenager)
Luke was not "The Chosen One" - he was just some kid who happened to be the hidden son of one of the best Space-Wizard-Warriors ever. It was his connection to the Force that allowed him to blow up the Death Star, not some cosmic prophecy. Technically, his dad was "The Chosen One" but that got a little messy when George Lucas decided to try to make that a thing. Fucking Midichlorians.

Harry Potter — The Harry Potter Franchise (12 - 20 years old)
Not to be "That Guy" but Harry wasn't The Chosen One by some wizardly thing. He was the Chosen One because, well, Voldemort CHOSE Harry... and not Neville. This became some sort of self-fulfilling paradox in my opinion. It could have been either one, and in the end, Neville did more to subvert Voldemort in my opinion. 
Frodo — The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (NOT a teenager by any means - he's 50)
Again - not "The Chosen One" - just happened on to some cursed jewelry that needed to be returned to the store... er... fires of Mount Doom. He wasn't foretold of in some ancient texts. He was just a dude, hanging out with another dude... who then had to save the world from an evil ring. 

Katniss Everdeen — The Hunger Games Franchise (teenager)
Nope. Not even close. She went off to die for her sister, ended up winning, and the system USED her to further their goals of independence from District 12. She wasn't Chosen for anything other than Propaganda by the other districts. Also - her sister died anyway, so she failed.

Kung Fu Panda Franchise (Not a teenager - he's in his 20's)
First - I freaking loved the first movie in this series.
Second, he is the most "Chosen One" on this list up to now. He was the prophesied Dragon Warrior... and came around to fight evil and be cool... maybe eat some noodles. 

Neo — The Matrix Franchise (Not a teenager, he's 37 and works at a bank FFS)
Neo IS actually "The Chosen One" in this franchise. And, if you think about it, he would've found his way out of the Matrix on his own had they given him enough time (I think). Morpheus and his buddies were just impatient living in a post-apocalyptic, underground nightmare. Even though they had cool dance parties and could literally go into the Matrix-like environment for work. But, it is Neo who has to merge with Smith to defeat him and bring about a strange peace between the two sides. In a way - Agent Smith is ALSO a Chosen One. So, they've got the good side and the bad side all tied up.

Thomas — The Maze Runner Franchise (teenager)
I'm not sure if the author originally started out with this in mind, or came up with it later as a result of "Oh, shit. I need a reason to make him live." He has the cure for the disease. So - again, he isn't the Chosen One in some sort of prophecy... but because he was needed. So people CHOSE him? Was he bio-engineered? Or was this genetic lottery? 

Douglas Adams once said, “It’s one thing to think that you’re the center of the universe—it’s another thing entirely to have this confirmed by an ancient prophecy” and this is my absolute GO-TO for "The Chosen One" and how it should play out in said trope.

As for them "always being a teenager" - that's a pretty big misconception. Many are because, and get this, the book is meant for TEENS. They're mostly YA books. So... know your audience. It also gives you like 30 years worth of time to milk this story to death if you so choose. (More than 10 books in your series is a bad thing in my personal opinion. Not always... but most of the time, you're just re-telling the same story with a new setting, some updated weaponry, and a punchy new set of characters.)

Another reason for them being teens, aside from marketing, is that it gives them time to grow into the legend they will become. Look, I love my son, but at the age of 11, he's NOT the Kwisatz Haderach. He's more Gene Belcher at this point. But if I KNEW he was "The Chosen One" I could start giving him a nudge in that direction. Which is what I think most people do with younger Messianic characters.

Anyway, the coffee is wearing off now... So I'm going to go take a nap.

Have a great week!