Created By: BlackDragon on March 13, 2011 Last Edited By: Agares on December 11, 2013

Zany Fantasy

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
...needs a cleverer title. Could go with Kingdom Of Eris, I suppose, if we want to start another snowclone-series.

Basically, it's a Sister Trope of Planet Eris. In the same way that Planet Eris is a weirded-out version of our normal reality, this is a weirded-out version of the standard, Tolkienesque High Fantasy setting. There are Elves and Dwarves, Orcs and Dragons, Wizards and Warriors... but the elves are worshiping a breakfast-cereal, the wizard knows a spell called 'Bigby's Middle Finger', and the dual-scimitar-wielding Dark Elf Ranger was dragged away by the police for Copyright Infringement...

The world, from end to other, is suffused with pop-cultural references and general-purpose wierdness. Note, however, that this in no way precludes the existence of seriousness and real drama in the story - the drama just won't last very long, since it's only a matter of time before some random kid wearing a green cap comes running through town pursued by a bunch of carnivorous chickens.

It also has to be the default condition of the setting as a whole. One or two characters who seem strangely familiar with our world's pop-culture, and/or are just plain crazy, doesn't mean that the whole setting qualifies for this trope.

Often includes some measure of Schizo Tech too, if only because it's necessary to make some of the jokes work.

Books

  • Myth Adventures: many dimensions in which can be found parodies of the Roman Empire, New York, the Mafia, and American sports culture. Also, a poker player named the Sen-Sen Ante Kid.
  • The Lord of the Rings parody Bored of the Rings is flled with references to 1960's (and earlier) pop culture.
  • Joe's World, mainly created by Eric Flint is a Low Fantasy world that runs on references to literature and mythology (both ancient and current), puns, surrealism, and sometimes Rule of Cool.

Film - Animated
  • The Verse in which the Shrek series takes place is like this; it's a fairytale fantasy setting infused with pop-culture elements for comedic value.

Web Comics

  • Looking for Group may just be the most blatant example around. References from as far afield as The Wizard of Oz and Star Wars are in abundance, and the crazy weirdness is essentially embodied in Richard, who has yet to take ANYTHING seriously.
  • Order Of The Stick is a somewhat lighter take on it. Since most of the jokes are based either on the quirky central characters, or on references to the world's D&D-based rule-system, they can sometimes go pretty far without encountering anything inherently weird. But it DOES happen, and often enough to qualify for this trope. (Prime cases: The missing Water-Dungeon, the Test of Heart, and the winged buffaloes.)
  • Errant Story averts it, despite being frequently comical. Jon, in particular, has been known to drop references to things that really shouldn't exist in that world, most recently Planet of the Apes, and The Paedagugosi are essentially weirdness made flesh - but they are just dots of craziness in a world that otherwise takes itself quite seriously.
  • Nodwick goes full-pelt with this. Though the exact intensity of the weirdness varies from story to story, it basically only goes from 'pretty weird' to 'really, really, REALLY weird', with one memorable occasion dipping into 'Twin Peaks weird'.
  • Erfworld uses this in a very deliberate manner, juxtaposing the inherent craziness of the world (as seen through the eyes of Only Sane Man, Parson) with the seriousness of what's going on in it - a neverending war. It's actually lampshaded in that Parson often comments on how things he encounters are jokes or puns on things from his original world (that is, our world), and wonders whether that means he's actually having Adventures In Coma Land.
Community Feedback Replies: 68
  • March 13, 2011
    Koveras
    Does Brutal Legend with its Heavy Metal-inspired fantasy setting count?
  • March 13, 2011
    BlackDragon
    Indirectly, I suppose. It's based at least partially on fantasy-metal, which is based on Tolkien and his ilk. It's missing most of the standard fantasy-elements, though. (Dwarves and elves, witches and wizards, ect.) Let's file it under 'maybe' for now...
  • March 13, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
  • March 14, 2011
    SinusPi
    • World Of Warcraft simply can't decide whether it thrives on internal lore, or on pop references solely.
  • March 14, 2011
    RealSlimShadowen
    Fan-Tasy World?
  • March 15, 2011
    Arivne
    Literature
  • March 16, 2011
    doorhandle

    FUCK YES! I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS TROPE FOREVER!

    Anyway, Magicka is an example of this, especially the Expansion called Magicka:Veitnam. Also, a fridge and a machinegun are present within it, and it refers to itself as a "generic fantasy setting,” not to mention the world of warcraft references in the only Side Quest in the game.

    We could call the trope "Middle Eris", as a reference to both Planet Eris and The Lord Of The Rings, or “Our Setting Is Weirder” or even “fantasy-counterpart Pop-Culture.”

  • May 1, 2013
    CardsOfWar
    No-one has mentioned Monty Python's Holy Grail yet. That fits under this
  • May 1, 2013
    aurora369
    What, no mention of Discworld?
  • May 1, 2013
    aurora369
    Also, I second Middle Eris.
  • May 1, 2013
    aurora369
    Also, The Slayers deserve an honorable mention. Here the weirdness ranges from comical (modern fashions and Japanese pop culture in a Medieval European Fantasy, clown-face demons, Lina's obsession with strange and exotic cuisine) to incomprehensible (just what the heck does this purple Bulgakovean demon want? Why does this tragic fallen hero's spirit baffle Lina with ice cream koans?) to genuinely dramatic (like a city that was burned to the ground, and the heroes were witnesses to it, reappearing where it was with a strange temple in its center).
  • May 1, 2013
    TonyG
    The Land of Ooo, setting for Adventure Time. It's as if someone took every fantasy book, film and cartoon ever made, put it in a blender, added a generous dollop of acid, and hit puree.
  • May 1, 2013
    arbiter099
    Would the Xanth setting count?
  • May 1, 2013
    surgoshan
    Xanth certainly didn't start out this way. It was an actual fantasy setting, it was pretty dark and pretty awesome. Now, though...
  • May 2, 2013
    aurora369
    Okay, you mention Pratchett in the title, but not in examples.
  • May 2, 2013
    Chabal2
    I would suggest Planet Pratchett.
  • May 2, 2013
    Stratadrake
    ...who's this Pratchett guy and what single thing is he so famous for?
  • May 2, 2013
    zarpaulus
    Yes, why the heck isn't Discworld the "most blatant example around"? And by the way, Planet Eris got renamed to World Of Weirdness.

    • The Fourth: The world runs on adventure game tropes, with evil overlords like Lord Tiberius Skärva the fourth being major drivers of the economy by employing minions and hiring dungeons to guard things.
  • May 2, 2013
    AmyGdala
    ^^ He's a guy who wrote a book series with this setting but has also written science fiction, non-fiction, books for younger readers and other styles. So, we shouldn't name this trope for him. Or for anyone.
  • May 2, 2013
    McKathlin
    Film - Animated
    • The Verse in which the Shrek series takes place is like this; it's a fairytale fantasy setting infused with pop-culture elements for comedic value.

    Come to think of it, this kind of setting is the standard for Fractured Fairy Tales in general, though it is not limited to these types of stories.
  • May 2, 2013
    arbiter099
    How does Genre Mashup Fantasy sound?
  • May 3, 2013
    CardsOfWar
    I Second Pratchet Planet

    • The setting for Fable fits this close to perfectly

    • Munchkin has lots of differerent humorous and whimsical things in it, from the Potion of Halitosis, to the Insurance Salesman as an enemy.
  • May 3, 2013
    DracMonster
  • May 3, 2013
    arromdee
    Do the Hercules and Xena shows count? Supposedly medieval, but every so often they throw in beauty contests, vampires, or someone who invented the taco.
  • May 3, 2013
    DracMonster
    This is going to be really hard to title succinctly.

    Sprinkling In Real Life For Silliness...?
  • May 3, 2013
    CardsOfWar
    Erik The Viking, a film by ex- Monty Python-ite Terry Jones, about a viking that 'Doesn't want to rape and pillage.'
  • May 25, 2013
    CardsOfWar
    bump

  • May 25, 2013
    aurora369
    just put the examples from comments into the main text, and you'll get a hat from me
  • May 25, 2013
    1810072342
    Isn't the idea of the Discworld already covered by Fantasy Counterpart Culture? Seriously, is it or not, because I'm not sure.
  • June 5, 2013
    crazysamaritan
    I think so.
  • June 5, 2013
    aurora369
    Fantasy Counterpart Culture is a different trope, and a much more serious one.
  • June 7, 2013
    crazysamaritan
    FCC is not inherently serious. Discworld (whose author is currently being used as tropenamer for this proposed trope) is an excellent example of that.
  • June 15, 2013
    batgirl1
  • June 16, 2013
    aurora369
    ^^ Fantasy Counterpart Culture = being lazy about inventing a whole new culture from scratch and recycling a historical one. This = not being serious about fantasy, filling it with post modernism, shout outs and general weirdness.

    How. The. Hell. Is. This. FCC?!!

    ^ Not exactly Fantasy Parody. More like Light-Hearted Fantasy, another fantasy genre like Dark, High, Low, Heroic etc.
  • June 16, 2013
    DaibhidC
    The trouble I have with the Pratchett title is I'm not actually sure Discworld is an example - the way the world works is far too internally consistent to be "the fantasy version of Planet Eris".
  • June 16, 2013
    TheHandle
    ^ One instinctually thinks "there's more to it than that", but, on second thought, it fits quite snugly.
  • June 16, 2013
    batgirl1
    How about Zany Fantasy, then? :) Does that fit better? (Also, I wouldn't call FCC lazy as such, since sometimes you can use it deliberately for an allegory and stuff. Just sayin'.)
  • June 18, 2013
    aurora369
    Yes, Zany Fantasy is all right.
  • June 18, 2013
    BOFH
    Literature
    • Myth Adventures: many dimensions in which can be found parodies of the Roman Empire, New York, the Mafia, and American sports culture. Also, a poker player named the Sen-Sen Ante Kid.
  • June 28, 2013
    kjnoren
    Literature:

  • July 14, 2013
    DAN004
    Would this trope be related to Widget Series?
  • July 29, 2013
    69BookWorM69
    Funny, I read the current title, and the first thing I thought of was Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next books. YMMV I guess.

    FWIW, I'm with batgirl1 on the nature of FCC, especially when it's played as an Alternate History Up To Eleven.
  • July 30, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    I don't get how you can not consider the Discworld novels an example of this. It's the first thing that comes to my mind when I read the description and I can guarantee it will also be the first example to appear on the page after the launch.
  • July 31, 2013
    crazysamaritan
    Because Discworld is an example of Fantasy Counterpart Culture.... for whatever reason, Zany Fantasy isn't the same thing.
  • July 31, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    But Discworld is exactly what the description says: a weirded out version of the standard fantasy setting. Some of the books reference stuff like Heavy Mithril and Sword And Sorcery movies.
  • August 8, 2013
    MorganWick
    How the hell are FCC and Zany Fantasy mutually exclusive? For that matter, what is Discworld an FCC of? Being internally consistent shouldn't disqualify anything from this trope, just from being considered badly written. Is OOTS not internally consistent? Is LFG? Myth Adventures? (Disclaimer: Have not read the latter two or Discworld)
  • August 11, 2013
    lakingsif
    Might want to stick in a "High Fantasy Magical Land On Acid".
  • August 11, 2013
    mouser
    Would this also be related to Fractured Fairy Tale at all? If so, the world of Shrek surely counts - every fairy tale they could think of, fractured, thrown into a blender, and seasoned with pop culture references to taste.

    Kingdom Of Loathing must be this trope's extreme.
  • August 11, 2013
    Dreamer
    Would the Super Mario Bros and Oz worlds count? They are pretty goofy as far as fantasy worlds go.
  • August 23, 2013
    Snicka
    I think the title should make clear that it is a setting. How about Zany Fantasy World?
  • August 23, 2013
    crazysamaritan
    @Morganwick - Myth Adventures is pretty internally consistent.

    • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Most cultures in the series have some real-life equivalent, often to create an Anachronism Stew fantasy setting.
      • Ankh-Morkpork started as a parody of the fantasy City of Adventure exclusively populated by thieves, assassins, wizards, roving bands of heroes and tavern staff. With time, it developed into a cross between that, Elizabethan London and modern New York or London.
      • Lancre is part a fantasy-land countryside of witches, farmers, small kingdoms, mountains, elves and such, and largely rural England, particularly the West Country or the Lake District.
      • Uberwald is the spooky Central European don't-go-near-the-castle Dracula country.
        • This is lampshaded so heavily that one castle's name is "Don't Go Near The".
      • The Counterweight Continent (no doubt that's just the Morkporkian name for it) is the Far East, mostly Japan and China.

    It took a lot of work for PTerry to come up with those cultures. FCC does not mean lazy.
  • August 23, 2013
    SharleeD
  • August 25, 2013
    Andygal
    crazysaaritan: being a FCC doesn't stop it from being a Zany Fantasy, I don't think a Zany Fantasy has to be lazy, in fact the best ones are the ones somebody put a lot of work into, just like almost anything. Terry Prachett puts a lot of work into making Discworld funny on multiple levels.
  • August 25, 2013
    Snicka
    Bored Of The Rings, a direct parody of The Lord Of The Rings also takes place in a world like this.
  • August 25, 2013
    crazysamaritan
    ^^ you're getting splash damage from my argument with the OP. They think FCC is lazy, and this trope is unrelated. I disagree. I haven't seen a good explanation for the distinction.
  • August 30, 2013
    Mouser
    I don't know how we got onto this FCC tangent, but can we get off it soon? Zany Fantasy and FCC can but needn't overlap. Any objection to that?
  • September 4, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ Had none to begin with. Just waiting for someone to add Discworld to the examples.
  • September 4, 2013
    Snicka
    ^ And not only Discworld. There have been a lot of other notable examples on the list, like the Shrek verse (and other Fractured Fairy Tales), World Of Warcraft, Bored Of The Rings, Erik The Viking, etc.
  • September 4, 2013
    crazysamaritan
    Any objection to that? Yes; I haven't seen a good explanation for the distinction.
  • September 4, 2013
    kjnoren
    @crazysamaritan: What exactly is your view of Fantasy Counterpart Culture? Because the two tropes are extremely distinct. Right now you're derailing the entire discussion here.

    The Zany Fantasy by definition must include the entire world; FCC need only a single culture in a larger world.

    The Zany Fantasy works by (lots of) minor cultural references and tropes, usually in a self-conscious and exaggerated manner; FCC has no such requirement, and is often used extremely straight.

    As such, the Zany Fantasy can include one or more FC Cs, but need not do so, and an FCC need not be included in a Zany Fantasy.
  • September 4, 2013
    crazysamaritan
    FCC deals with cultures that are take-offs (homage, parody, satire, shout out) of real cultures. This applies to any culture, even Goths, Gamers, Hippies, or Pop Culture. It can apply to the entire setting, but it is specifically for a cultural reference.

    Zany fantasy is defined as "A world other than ours, with Power politics, wars, the death of nations, gods walking the earth, and the real threat of The End of the World as We Know It by an enemy which is near enough to Evil incarnate or fundamentally abhorrent that victory through force of arms is impossible, and they must be defeat by a sacrifice. Excepted that it has Shout Out to aspects of Real Life Pop Culture."

    What the examples tend to contain, instead of the definition, is any fiction with Reference Overdose to Pop Culture.

    FCC has no requirements for being played seriously, and an elf tribe made up entirely of Link expies is taking from the Real Life cultural icon and transforming them into a race of people.

    None of the examples lack FCC as a trope.
  • September 4, 2013
    Snicka
    I looked at the definition of Fantasy Counterpart Culture and the examples listed there, and I am afraid Crazysamaritan is missing the point. All examples of FCC are fictional cultures that are based on Real Life specific countries or civilizations. There are no mentions of fantasy counterparts of sub-cultures such as goths, gamers or hippies (there is mention of Goths, but the historic culture rather than the modern subculture).
  • September 4, 2013
    crazysamaritan
    1. Nothing in the definition itself restricts examples to countries or civilizations.
    2. couldn't find the subcultures on the page?
    3. My three examples were based on my own mind, not taken from the page. The five subcultures above are all present on the page.
  • September 4, 2013
    kjnoren
    @crazysamaritan: please, leave this YKTTW. So far everyone here but you has easily seen this as distinct from Fantasy Counterpart Culture.

    If you want an example of a Zany Fantasy that contains very little (if any at all, but you will have to look quite closely) of FCC, then go read The Philosophical Strangler. Go ahead, it's in the Baen Free Library.
  • September 6, 2013
    crazysamaritan
    No, and don't be a dick. I wasn't the first troper to make the connection, I'm just still paying attention.

    I don't think you've read Planet Eris, High Fantasy, or Culture Chop Suey. The definition of this trope does not match what you want. The Philosophical Strangler is not the Planet Eris to High Fantasy.
  • September 20, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    ...Zanyfantasy sounds like a your average Fantasy Genre story, except wacky. with no indication about the pop-culture requirement.

    I suggest Pop Cultured Fantasy Setting. snowcloning Pop Cultured Badass, yes, but at least it tells it as it is.

    by the way, is this trope

    "A fantasy setting which features shoutouts to Real Life pop culture"?

    , so like, elves in a Standard Fantasy Setting calling themselves as discount [[Film/Avatar Navis]] even though the setting is not on earth and there's no James Cameron in it?
  • October 14, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    who bumped this? what got edited? didn't notice anything new.
  • December 11, 2013
    Arivne
    ^ It looks like Agares zero edited this and several other YKTTW proposals to bring them to the top of the queue.
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