10 BEST MONSTER TROPES IN FICTION
We’re talking all about monsters! Particularly, the monster tropes that I love most! Today’s topic was requested by one of my patrons over on Patreon, M. H. Kelly! They wanted to know all about my favorite and least favorite monster tropes, so today, I’m breaking down the faves! Butters is my favorite little monster, but onto my other all time favorite monster tropes in three, two, one, go!
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Number 1: Cute, but Deadly!
We’ve got an adorable, doe-eyed creature that will tear you to shreds, and use your tendons as floss. Isn’t that precious? This trope is simple: I want to see a chinchilla destroy people, in all it’s fluffy glory.
I’m going to be forever ashamed of this, but let’s talk about the bunny in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I really don’t like Monty Python. The reason that bunny was so funny was because it was cute, small, and seemingly harmless. And then it fucking murders people, and that’s hilarious! I support you, tiny demon bunny. The rest of the movie wasn’t so funny, but that part was golden.
Number 2: Scary, but Sweet!
This is basically the polar opposite of the last point. The monster is huge, it’s hairy, it’s horrifying! And all it wants is a hug. By the end of the book, you’re thinking, “Why can’t I have a winged hell demon in my life?” I want to gaze into those 20 black eyeballs! I want to see the glint of it’s hundreds of fangs when it smiles! Because gosh darn it, that monster is a sweetheart! It wants to cuddle, it wants to be friends, it’s more scared of you than you are of it! And that’s saying something, because goddamn is it ugly! This is the kind of monster that teaches you not to judge a book by it’s cover, or a beast by it’s cloven hooves.
Number 3: The Familiar
A familiar is a demon that takes the form of an animal in order to obey the requests of a witch. I’m a fan of familiars, but really, I’m a fan of any creature that acts as a servant or guardian to a character. I really enjoy this trope because honestly, it’s just something different! We’ve all seen plenty of characters like Igor or Fritz, and there are a million guardian or mentor characters to go around. But a guardian monster! That’s special. Why? Because it’s not a person, and people suck.
Number 4: The Pet Monster
This is kind of like the familiar, except this monster isn’t here to take orders or protect. They’re here to play fetch and get belly rubs. If they do serve as protection, it’s more so in the guard dog capacity–not the bodyguard capacity. This trope absolutely kills for the same reason that the scary but sweet trope is the tits. It’s fun to see something typically written as terrifying instead behave as loving and loyal. Stop fuckin’ werewolves and start namin’ 'em Spot! Okay, that might not work because werewolves are part human, but you get my drift!
Number 5: Mystery Monster
There’s a monster wreaking havoc across the land, and our main character is desperate to find it. Only to discover, they are the monster! They have been the whole time! The horror! They somehow don’t remember any of these monstrous killing sprees, and these massive lapses in their memory aren’t at all suspicious or troubling to them... You know, for "reasons."
I know this trope is kind of stupid, I just don’t give a shit. It taps into the fear that there’s something latent and evil within us. Something that we might not be able to suppress, despite our greatest efforts. That’s scary, and if monsters are involved, I probably want to be scared.
Number 6: The Monster Evolution
I’m not talking about shifters, or werewolves under the full moon. I’m talking about a complete evolution from human to something extremely terrifying, and there is no going back. That shit is twisted, and I want more of it!
A perfect example of this is the 1986 version of The Fly with Jeff Goldblum. You get to see this man waste away into a grotesque creature, and there is nothing he can do about it. The monster evolution is particularly disturbing because it makes you wonder, “How would I react if it was happening to me? If I had absolutely no control over who or what I was becoming...” That’s the kind of shit that’ll mess with your mind. And my brain is already fucked up, so I’m completely open to further mind muddling.
Number 7: Hit Us With the New Shit!
There are millions of books about the same, exact monsters retold over, and over, and over again. You know what’s fun? When a writer does something completely different. I’m going to talk about The Fly again, except this time we’re looking at the novelette by George Langelaan. This story was published in 1957, and it’s about a man who accidentally mixes his DNA with that of a fly...and then a cat. We end up with this weird, humanoid, hybrid cat-fly, and it’s glorious! This is some fucked up shit, and I like it!
Everyone and their mom writes about faeries and zombies, and they write them in the exact same way. Show me something different! Ancient Greece came up with a woman with snake hair. If they could concoct that a bazillion years ago, what’s your excuse?
Number 8: Greek Mythology
This isn’t exactly a trope, but it’s my list, so I can do whatever the hell I want! Greek mythology has some of the best monsters, and I’m gonna tell you why. They basically just mashed a ton of animals together and were like, “BAM! Ya got a monster!”
It’s like Pokémon, except without the virgins. You want a dog with three heads? The Greeks gotcha covered. You want a lion with a goat head on it’s back and a snake tail? The Greeks are on it! And it’s really hard to find monsters that weird these days. Everyone’s just regurgitating what already exists, or tossing glitter on vampires. Greek mythology threw the whole kitchen sink at their monsters, and I salute them for it!
Number 9: The Apex Predator
This monster is particularly horrifying because it contradicts everything we know about humanity. As human beings, we believe we’re at the top of the food chain. Not anymore, bitch! The apex predator is here to rock our socks, and it’s not gonna be pretty. Monsters like the Predator are iconic for a very simple reason: the Predator is a predator. We don’t stand a chance! I mean technically we did win in the original, but there have been so many sequels. Who’s the real winner at this point?
Number 10: Monsters That Are ACTUALLY Monsters
Once upon a time, werewolves and vampires were for killing, not for fucking. Can we see more of that? Please, for the love of God. Now, there are exceptions to the rule. After all, I’ve listed a bunch already. I love monster pets, familiars, sweet monsters that you want to rock like a baby. You know, if it wasn’t for all the poisonous spikes.
But at the end of the day, I still have so much love in my corrupted black heart for murderous monsters. When I go into monster fiction, I’m expecting death, not dick. Just give me a creative, thought-out monster that actually poses as a threat to human life. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
So that's all I've got for you today!
These are my 10 favorite monster tropes, and I wanna see more of them! Out with the glittery vampires and in with the scary, twisted (sometimes cuddly) creatures!
What's your favorite fictional monster trope? I love to hear it!
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