Why Are So Many Fantasy Characters Orphans?

That question pops up routinely in fantasy discussions. From Frodo Baggins to Richard Cypher to Daenerys Targaryen, few of them have parents. Even the best adjusted family in fantasy, the Starks, get themselves killed off, and the survivors qualify as orphans now. Well, to me, the answer is obvious.

You had a mother, didn’t you? Would she let you traipse across the country with a crazy old man hellbent on saving the world? I didn’t think so.

Get Mom and Dad out of the way, and the story can proceed.


One thought on “Why Are So Many Fantasy Characters Orphans?

  1. Interesting subject. As a child I always dreamed of being an orphan. Not because my parents treated me that bad, and I didn’t want them dead at all, but I had this romantic idea of roaming around on my own. When I got old enough I left. My mother kept running after me, though. coming to visit in the strangest places. So I guess in one way you’re right.

    I have a planned graphic novel, which also has several important orphan characters. In part it might be what you say, the fact that they won’t have their mum running after them, pushing on them belongings from home that would hold them down, but there are more reasons.

    I think maybe the most important one is the romantic idea of loss, and characters who are only alive in the memories of the living. There is a beauty in lost times and generations, and it gives the living characters more depth and history. Wendy and Richard Pini’s Elf Quest takes this to perfection.

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