The Chosen Ones

While researching yesterday’s post, I discovered that an MMO trope is perfectly true in the Star Wars Expanded Universe: there is as endless supply of The One and Only Heroes. The NPCs in your MMO tell you that you are unique and special, that only you can save the day, and then they say it to the forty people lined up behind you to turn in the quest. Writers seem to feel much the same way about their protagonists, so unique and special things happen all the time even if another author in the same shared universe (or several) already used that unique and special slot. By now, there were hundreds if not thousands of Jedi and Sith running around during the time of the original Star Wars trilogy. If no one has yet written about a hidden Jedi academy or Sith cloning pool that moved that number up by some significant digits, it will happen sometime.

For example, Wookieepedia has a disambiguation page for Darth Vader’s apprentice. He apparently went through them on the order of one every two years, and you’d think he would have had at least one around for the original trilogy. Just yesterday, yet another Jedi who survived the death of all the Jedi joined the canon for a new series. And then we have the quote, “Palpatine established a number of organizations composed by Dark Jedi“; not just many of them, many organizations of them.

See also the many fantasy novels with the only good member of an evil race, because this author’s Drizzt clone is not a drow (although some of them are the only other good drow/whatever).

You and your group of friends are all The Chosen One? You’re in good company.

: Zubon

4 thoughts on “The Chosen Ones”

  1. This is common to most, probably all, open-ended, serial fictional forms, isn’t it? Soap operas and super-hero comics are prone to it, almost rely on it. A large part of the appeal of those forms is that the audience receives the same story, or a readily recognizable variant, each time.

    It’s possible, of course, to do original, experimental work in these genres and sub-genres, and when series drop somewhat off the radar, as in the days of Don McGregor and Steve Gerber at Marvel in the early 70s or some of the playful, quirky and downright odd original novels nominally featuring Dr Who that got published while the series was off-air and largely forgotten.

    Those are occasional felicitous by-blows, though, not really what these serial fictions exist to do. They’re designed to extract money from a relatively undemanding audience that largely wants more of the same. These repetitions and contradictions, if noticed, provide extra traction for the committed fans as they allow for endless debate (god knows the hours I’ve spent happily, arguing over “continuity” in these entirely non-continuous fictional universes), while they go entirely unnoticed or uncared-about by the less-obsessed.

  2. Speaking up as a Guild Wars fangirl, the original game (in Prophecies) did a neat job of mitigating that – player characters were always special in the story missions, but no player character was ever The One. Instead a party of eight were told they were all ‘Chosen’ – which was already established as a kind of person, and some significant percentage of the population were eligible. Player characters became more and more special through the fact that they overcame various trials, and had good guides (the most special trials were ones we only knew about because of mystical contacts/good networking). In theory, any number of people could have fulfilled this prophecy.

    Of course, the flipside of this is that people are often complaining about how NPCs ‘steal the spotlight’ in ArenaNet’s games, and how the player character isn’t special enough, and how much people hate being a supporting character in a story where someone else saves the world. Admittedly it doesn’t help when the hero characters often aren’t exactly fan favourites, but I’m sure they’re disliked partly *because* they’re resented.

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