The 7 Classic Themes
Posted by

Search for the Holy Grail: This is the traditional “Epic Quest” theme where our hero—and possibly his sidekick(s)—go on a dangerous journey to find someone/thing of great importance. EX: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

Search for Inner Understanding: This is an internal quest for spiritual awareness, inner peace, self understanding, inner joy, etc. (It’s more common in literary fiction or used as a second theme in commercial fiction.) Usually, the antagonist or fighting force is the protagonist himself. EX: The Five People you Meet in Heaven by Mitchell Albom.

Desperate Redemption: When the protagonist has done something he/she’s not proud of—lie, cheat, steal, murder, etc—he/she will desperately seek out exoneration. EX: I Am Legend starring Will Smith.

Sweet Black Revenge: In a revenge story, the protagonist sometimes has a darker side than the typical “knight in shining armor.” Usually, a revenge story is a triangle consisting of the victim, the avenger, and the criminal. EX: Gladiator starring Russell Crowe.

Wild Survival: This theme is “man versus nature” simply put. The protagonist is out of his element/comfort zone and must figure out how to stay alive. EX: Cast Away starring Tom Hanks.

Save the World: The protagonist is given the difficult task of saving the world from some dark force/catastrophe. There is usually an allotted amount of time. EX: Armageddon starring Bruce Willis.

Love Conquers All: With a love story, the protagonist and love interest must overcome some upheaval/strife/moral taboo in order to be together. Their love may be forbidden, morally wrong, or simply problematic but they can’t live without the other. EX: The Little Mermaid (Disney Version).