[[quoteright:220:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/NeverEndingStoryCoverImage_8531.JPG]]
[[caption-width-right:220:Open...but...very carefully.]]

A troubled, insecure young boy named Bastian who loves to read happens upon a antique bookstore owned by a Mr. Coreander, when hiding from some bullies. Inside Mr. Coreander's shop, Bastian comes across a book titled ''The Neverending Story'', which claims to have NoEnding. Unable to resist, Bastian steals the book and hides in the school attic where he can read it undisturbed. In the book is the story of an otherworldly MagicalNativeAmerican boy named Atreyu on a quest to save a MagicalLand from vanishing. As Bastian reads more and more of the story, he finds that the book seems to be aware of him. Eventually, it is revealed that the magical land within the book is actually another dimension encompassing all of human imagination, and only a human with creative ideas can save it.

Bastian is then transported to the world, where he finds that every wish he makes will come true. However, he begins to lose a part of himself for every wish he makes.

The story purposefully has lots of loose ends (in the form of left-off side stories and secondary characters), to drive home the point that it ''is'' a "Neverending Story". In addition, there was a scene in the original novel where to convince Bastian that this was [[UpTheRealRabbitHole "real"]] the Childlike Empress tells the Historian to read the story over. Which includes what Bastian had done that day. This gets them all stuck into a timeloop until Bastian accepts it and enters the story.

Originally written in German by Creator/MichaelEnde, the several hundred page book spawned [[Film/TheNeverendingStory three movies]]. There was also a short-lived AnimatedAdaptation, and a TV miniseries called ''Tales From The Neverending Story'' that created an entirely new plot loosely based on the premise of the book and its characters.
----
!!This book provides examples of:

* AboveGoodAndEvil: The Childlike Empress considers good and evil, beautiful and ugly to be of equal value, and never favours one over the other. It's not her concern whether the people dream good or bad dreams, as long as they dream.
* AbsurdlySharpBlade: Sikanda.
* AdventureTowns
* AliensSpeakingEnglish: Or, in this case, German. When Bastian enters Fantastica, he has no problem conversing with anyone -- which actually makes sense, since Fantastica isn't a self-contained fantasy world separate from ours, but made up of dreams, tales and fantasies complementary to our reality. Of course they'd also speak our language there.
* AlliterativeName: Triply so with Bastian, whose full name is Bastian Balthazar Bux. It also the case with the owner of the bookstore, whose full name is Carl Conrad Coreander.
* AllStoriesAreRealSomewhere: Part of the premise.
* AlphabeticalThemeNaming: The residents of Amarganth all have the letter 'q' in their names. Mostly it was their first letter such as Querquobad, the Silver Sage. However, as per Bastian's story of the history of the Amarganthians (which came true as he told it), leaders such as Quana and Quin as well as Aquil and Muqua existed.
* AnatomyOfTheSoul: The Mines of Memory, where Bastian attempts to retrieve his final memory of himself.
* AnotherStoryForAnotherTime: Many chapters end using this on the characters important to that section.
-->"But that is another story and will be told another time".
* ArcWords: All the threads left hanging are waved goodbye with the phrase "But that is another story, to be told another time" ("Aber das ist eine andere Geschichte und soll ein andermal erzählt werden."). This is also the final sentence of the book as a whole.
* AttackOnOneIsAnAttackOnAll: Seen with Gaya, the dark princess of Spook City and the Land of Ghosts. She turns on the G'mork when he arrives searching for Atreyu, because he lets slip his true mission to bring about Fantastica's destruction. While it's implied Gaya is an evil or at least foul Fantastican, she nevertheless defends her world against the G'mork.
-->"G'mork. You forgot that I too am one of the creatures of Fantastica. And that to fight against Fantastica is to fight against me. That makes you my enemy, and I've outsmarted you."
* BatmanGambit: The Childlike Empress sends Atreyu out on a quest to find a cure for her mysterious illness. It turns out that [[spoiler:the Empress knew the cure (to be given a new name by an imaginative human) all along; the actual purpose of the quest wasn't to find the information, but rather to provide a long, harrowing adventure that would summon the savior, and make him sympathetic enough to Atreyu and Fantasia/Fantastica that he would give her a new name when the time came. The Empress also had a back-up plan in case Bastian was too reluctant to name her immediately]].
* BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor:
** Bastian has it invoked on him.
--->"You wish for something, you've wanted it for years, and you're sure you want it, as long as you know you can't have it. But if all at once it looks as though your wish might come true, you suddenly find yourself wishing you had never wished for any such thing."
** The Acharis suffer from this as well. They ask Bastian for new bodies but come to regret it much too late as they no longer enjoy being carefree clownish beings and can no longer fulfill their original purpose.
* BiggerOnTheInside: The Änderhaus (Changing House) is, for all intents and purposes, [[Series/DoctorWho a TARDIS]]. The trope is name-checked word for word. And for added points, the woman who lives there undergoes a sort of regeneration upon death, becoming a new person, and having a succession of lives.
* BlueAndOrangeMorality:
** No one knows why the sphinxes let some people pass and paralyze others.
** The childlike empress. [[spoiler:She doesn't care what happens to a savior afterwards and even encourages him or her to absolutely indulge in YourMindMakesItReal-style wishing, but doesn't warn him that doing so will slowly drive him over the edge. For her as the personification of fantasy itself, what counts is that a fantastic world is created, without considering that escapism taken to the extreme isn't necessarily a good thing.]]
* BodyHorror: Ever wonder what it would feel like to lose a part of your body, even half your face or a whole limb, and not die or even feel pain? The Nothing would be happy to show you.
* BookEnds:
** The book begins with a description of viewing the bookstore from the inside looking out the glass door. Bastian then opens the door "violently" causing the bells on the door to ring for a while. It ends with Bastian looking out the same door at his father, opening the door "vigorously" and causing the bells on the door to ring.
** Smaller versions, relate to the events in the book when the clock chimes in Bastian's world.
*** At 9am, Bastian reads as the four travelers resume their trip to the Ivory Tower. At 9pm, Atryu and Falkor are traveling to the Ivory Tower.
*** At 10am, Cairon has just appeared from meeting with the Childlike Empress. At 10pm, Atreyu first sees the Childlike Empress.
*** At 11am, Atreyu accepts his mission from Cairon. At 11pm, Atryu's mission officially ends after his meeting with the Childlike Empress ends.
* BornAsAnAdult: There's a race of Fantasticans called Sassafranians, who are born old and die as infants.
* ABoyAndHisX: X being first a horse, and then a dragon.
* CanonFodder: Invoked in-universe. Everything Bastian does in the story-world creates several new plot hooks which tail off with some variation on the phrase, ''but that's another story for another time''. In the end, [[spoiler:Bastian is told he can't leave until he 'ends all the stories he began', but Atreyu volunteers to do this on his behalf.]]
* CanonSue: {{Deconstructed|Trope}} in the second half of the book, with Bastian becoming an in-universe Canon Sue. There's also an implication that whoever reads the book will end up reading a story about a character somewhat like what they are and also what they want to be. Since Bastian is a young boy who wants to be brave he ends up reading about Atreyu, a young boy warrior. This is heavily implied at the Oracle which revealed Atreyu's inner self to be Bastian, and when Carl Coreander told Bastian that his experiences with the Neverending Story, including the appearance of the book itself, were entirely different from Bastian's. If Coreander was reading, the story probably would have featured [[GrumpyOldMan Engywook]] or someone similar.
* CantTakeAnythingWithYou: A non-time travel example. Bastian cannot leave Fantastica with anything the Childlike Empress gave him or that he received in Fantastica. This means his clothes fell off him and he changed from the Oriental Prince look to his normal look as both were given to him by the Childlike Empress.
* CastFromSanity: Bastian's wishing power turns out to require sacrificing [[spoiler:memories of the human world]].
* {{Catchphrase}}: Argax is fond of inserting "in a manner of speaking"[[note]]At least that's how it comes out in the English translation.[[/note]] into his dialogue.
* CatsAreMean: Subverted in the character of the lion Grograman. Yes, [[WalkingWasteland all land around him is turned into scorching desert]], and no one can touch him without being burnt to a crisp, [[BlessedWithSuck but this is an involuntary part of his nature]] and not a sign of malice or inner evil. When Bastian, protected by the AURYN, is able to speak with him, Grograman comes across as a quite personable, even friendly, beast, as well as rather melancholy due to his enforced solitude, ignorance about his origin, and [[TakenForGranite painful]] ([[FateWorseThanDeath daily]]) TransformationSequence. The scenes where Bastian discovers the truth about him, and sits with him so he won't be alone, are genuinely moving, and Grograman himself is actually treated as a brave companion by Bastian to the point he wants the lion to come with him on his journey (which Grograman [[LampshadeHanging points out to him]] is sadly impossible since he takes the desert with him wherever he goes).
* ChekhovsGun:
** Subverted with Al Tsahir, which [[spoiler:Bastian uses for something else before he can use it for its intended purpose]].
** The fox, eagle, and the owl mentioned in the attic have a chapter more or less revolving around them, sort of.
* CityOfCanals: More precisely, a silver city of floating palaces on a lake of tears. ''Acidic'' tears!
* TheChosenOne:
** Atreyu is the Chosen One for finding the cure for the Childlike Empress.
** Bastian is TheChosenOne to stop The Nothing.
* ContrivedCoincidence: Bsatian believes two events are this in the book. The first is when he screams , the characters hear a scream. That was justified in thinking it a coincidence. The second is when Atreyu is looking into the Magic Mirror, the second gate to the Southern Oracle. He sees Bastian and the description Bastian reads is an exact description of him and his surroundings. It freaks him out, but Bastian tries to think of it as a coincidence.
* DamselInDistress: Princess Oglamar after Bastian explained she was captured by a vicious dragon so that Hero Hynreck can save her, which makes it happen.
* DangerousForbiddenTechnique: Using Sikanda without the consent of the blade itself.
* DeadpanSnarker: Argax, Gmork.
* DefrostingIceQueen: The Princess of Luna.
* DeusExScuseMe: The librarian is getting called away for a long phone call, allowing Bastian time to take the book.
* DreamLand: Fantastica, obviously.
* EatDirtCheap: The entire race of the Rock-Chewers.
* EldritchAbomination:
** The Nothing. There are quite literally no words to adequately describe it, as shown in the first chapter when one of the messengers struggles through describing a lake being replaced by nothing. Not like a hole or a dried-up lake, because then there would be a hole or a dried lake bed there. No, it's ''nothing''. And when Atreyu takes a look at it from afar, he can't even glance at the Nothing head-on, and his eyes hurt just from seeing it, because his brain can't comprehend it. It isn't just blackness, because black is a thing that can be comprehended. It isn't even empty space which matter once occupied, because empty space is still ''something'' that can be occupied. It is, long story short, something that ''should not be''... because it ''isn't''.
** One can easily replicate what Atreyu saw. to do so one must simply close their eyes as they normally do at night. However try to focus on what you see and well, you can't. In other words, ThePowerOfTheVoid, at its most frightening form.
** There's also the Manipulators, Gmork's employers, who wish to drive humanity mad with lies and delusions born out of Fantasticans who have been erased by the Nothing.
* EldritchLocation:
** The Wandering Mountain, said to be as a big as a whole country yet never occupies the same place twice. One cannot climb it until the last person to do so has not only died but passed out of all memory, or else the mountain will simply not be found.
** The Southern Oracle, which can only be entered through a Stargate-like door called the No-Key Gate. This door simply stands alone in an open field, and the only way to unlock it is to forget the reason you came in the first place. Each of the latter two gates are not there until you pass through the previous gate. Behind the Great Riddle Gate is nothing but endless land. Once through the gate, the Magic Mirror Gate appears about twenty paces ahead. Beyond that gate is nothing until you pass into it, then the No Key Gate appears.
** Salamander, a city whose buildings and people are made entirely of fire. Atreyu's horse, quite naturally, would not go near the place.
** Fantasia itself, if the incident at the Star Cloister is any indication. Bastian uses an enchanted stone to produce a light so blinding it pierces the heavens, and the space beyond is revealed to be... ''the attic of Bastian's school''. In other words, he is looking out through the pages of the book.
** The Ivory Tower, which is basically a mountain the size of a city nearer its base, is always at the center of Fantasia. However, since Fantasia has no borders and is infinite, its center is nebulous. Ivory Tower has been stated to be equally near to and far from everywhere in Fantasia and that how far they must travel is dependent on the state of the travelers.
** Wandering Mountain is a mountain that is never in the same place and no one can ever hope to look for it. Only if they were destined to find it can they do so.
* EmpathicEnvironment: The Swamps of Sadness. The two fan theories about it are if Morla has gotten as [[JadeColoredGlasses selfish and cynical]] as she is from living there for so long, or if her selfishness and cynicism has caused the Swamps to become such a [[DespairEventHorizon dangerously morbid place]].
* EquivalentExchange: Each wish made on AURYN consumes a memory of home. To be precise, the amount of memory consumed is proportional to the difficulty of the wish. Woe betide you should you run out before finding your way back.
* EvenEvilHasStandards: Gaya, the Princess of Darkness. Though she is never shown as a character, [[spoiler: she sweet talks and capture Gmork for his EvilPlan to destroy her home of Fantastica.]]
* EverythingsBetterWithMonkeys: Inverted. [[spoiler:A monkey named Argax is the "steward" of the City of Old Emperors, and neither he nor his domain are very pleasant or fun.]]
* EvilCostumeSwitch: A minor, unintentional version. Bastian's mantle (cloak) was silver until the battle when it was described as black. It remained black for the remainder, even after his switch back to sanity. It was finally left at the House of Change.
* ExactWords:
** The words on the back of the Auryn: DO WHAT YOU WISH. For Bastian, it was a double sided rule as his wishes led him both good and bad.
** The Childlike Empress's command to the Old Man Of Wandering Mountain... [[TheFourthWallWillNotProtectYou to turn to the beginning of the book...]] [[NoFourthWall She didn't tell him WHICH book...]]
* ExtremeDoormat: Xayide acts this way towards Bastian, as part of her gambit to manipulate him.
* EyeOfNewt: Memories for wishes.
* EyesOfGold: The Childlike Empress, which leads to her official title, "The Golden-Eyed Commander of Wishes."
* FailureIsTheOnlyOption: If a human who comes to Fantastica fails to find their way back to the human world, without exception they all eventually attempt to supplant the Childlike Empress as supreme ruler of Fantastica, losing their memories all the while through wishing. The fate of all who stay on this course is to wind up in the City of Old Emperors as nearly mindless creatures without memory or ability to speak, performing ridiculous meaningless activities forever.
* FateWorseThanDeath:
** You do ''not'' want to end up trapped in the City of Old Emperors.
** Stay away from the Nothing, or you'll get what the Bark Trolls did. Even the G'mork, magically chained, refused Atreyu's offer of food, preferring to die of hunger before the Nothing could get to him.
* FisherKing: The Childlike Empress.
* GiantFlyer: Falkor.
* AGodAmI: [[spoiler:Bastian driven semi-insane by excessive wishing decides that he should become the new Emperor -- like dozens of saviors before him, who are now all stuck in Fantastica as idiot children.]]
* GodEmperor: The Childlike Empress. [[spoiler:The City of Old Emperors is full of people who tried to set themselves up as one and learned the hard way why it is not a good idea.]]
* GrailInTheGarbage: The physical Neverending Story itself, the book which contains the entire world of Fantastica, is housed in an unsuccessful antique bookstore.
* GreaterScopeVillain: The mysterious power behind the Nothing who sent G'Mork to kill Arteyu. It or they are mentioned once by G'Mork and never play any role in the story after the Nothing is defeated. If they're even sentient creatures is up for debate.
* HardWorkHardlyWorks: Hero Hynreck is a professional hero who spent his whole life being the best at everything he does, but he can't hold a candle against Sebastian, who outmatches him with ease by virtue of holding the Auryn.
* HeroicBSOD: Bastian, which drives him to utilize his last wishes a bit more carefully.
* HeroOfAnotherStory: The point of the book is that ''everyone'' is the hero of his own story, but Hero Hynreck takes the cake not only by virtue of being a professional hero and having the word 'hero' in his name, but also because we see Bastian purposefully creating a story of adventure for him after he complained about getting dumped by Princess Oglamar and having no monster to fight as a hero. But, as the book says, that is another story and shall be told another time.
* HiveMind:
** The Yskalnari, being so much a community that they lack any form of individualism, when a member of the crew dies not only nobody seems to care, nobody even seems to notice.
** And Ygramul the many.
* HorribleJudgeOfCharacter: Bastian thinks nothing of trusting one of Fantasica's most infamous sorceresses, despite the fact she obviously tries to turn him against Atreyu. She also quite obviously feigned defeat when she kidnapped the knights and Bastian rescued them, as Atreyu points out, but he thinks nothing of it.
* HumansAreSpecial: Since Fantastica is the world of human imagination, it is only appropriate that humans are special to its inhabitants. Only humans can give names and create stories.
* HurricaneOfPuns: A disturbing example when Atreyu introduces himself to Gmork as 'Nobody.' They then use that name as a disturbing and serious play on words regarding the hopelessness of the situation.
* IDontLikeTheSoundOfThatPlace: The Swamps of Sadness and Spook City.
* IKnowYourTrueName: Giving something a name gives it power, knowing a name gives power over it. The entire first half of the book revolves around finding the one who can give the Childlike Empress a new, true name, to end her illness and dispel the Nothing.
* IWishItWereReal
* IdiosyncraticEpisodeNaming: Sort of. The ''names'' of the chapters are ordinary enough, but Ende notably begins each of them with a successive letter of the alphabet. Since the book's only illustrations ''are'' said capital letters (which each take up an entire page), it's hard not to think of the book in terms of "Chapter A", "Chapter M", "Chapter X", etc.
* InDefenceOfStoryTelling: The human neglect of story-telling doesn't just make Fantasia sick, but our world too. Bastian's job as story-teller is to "make both worlds well".
* InformedAttractiveness: Gaya, the dark princess, is described by G'mork as "very beautiful...to me anyway". Given that her admirer is a ferocious werewolf who loves the sinister and fiendish, a human might find her to be a [[EvilIsSexy malevolent yet alluring temptress]], or a stark reminder that other beings' preferences may be a ''tad'' different than our own.
* InvisibilityCloak: The belt Ghemmal that Xayide gives to Bastian, is made of glass and makes the wearer invisible. Bastian was disconcerted the first time he wore it as he couldn't even see himself so he couldn't take it off without Xayide's help.
* ItWasWithYouAllAlong:
** [[spoiler:In both Atreyu's quest ''and'' Bastian's.]]
** In Bastian's case, his ability to enter Fantastica and to leave it was with him all along, [[spoiler:though he had to read the story and then live as a part of it until he could make use of either. In the former case, all he had to do was give the Childlike Empress a name by calling it aloud in the human world. In the latter case, all he had to do to return to the human world was to give up Auryn of his own free will.]]
* JumpedOffTheSlipperySlope: [[spoiler:Bastian becomes an evil psychopath toward the end of the book due to Xayide's manipulation, but snaps out of it, leading to a MyGodWhatHaveIDone moment.]]
* KnightInShiningArmor: Hykrion, Hysbald, and Hydorn. Hynrek might also qualify.
* LateForSchool: The streets around the school are described as deserted, as a student would feel if he was very late for school. Likewise, the corridors of the school were described as echoing his footsteps.
* MadeOfAir: [[spoiler:Uyulala is literally made of ''sound''.]] For her, to stop singing is to die.
* MagicalLand
* MagicalNativeAmerican: The literally green-skinned Greenskins (Atreyu's people) who live on the plains of the Grassy Ocean are Native Americans with the serial numbers filed off. They even hunt a purple kind of buffalo.
* MagicalUnderpinningsOfReality: Fantasticans are only real in their world; once they are taken into our world, they become lies.
* {{Manipulative B|astard}}itch: Xayide.
* MathematiciansAnswer: Referred to as dream words for the Childlike Emperess' response:
-->Bastian: Where are we Moon Child?
-->Moon Child: I am with you, and you are with me.
* MeaningfulName:
** In his own language, Atreyu means "Son of All". This is in comparison to Bastian, who feels like the son of no one.
** Bastian's surname, Bux, is pronounced as "books" (rather than "bucks"). Lampshaded by the novel itself, which points out how appropriate the name is for a boy who loves books.
* MechanicalHorse: Xayide created hollow metal horses that she could control with her mind. Bastian, due to Auryn, could also control these horses and rode one away from a battle until it shattered from overuse.
* MediumAwareness:
** The Childlike Empress uses her power as ruler of Fantastica to turn to the beginning of the book YOU are reading, creating a loop only Bastian can break, being effectively part of the loop at that point.
** Having read the book The Neverending Story himself, after finding himself in Fantastica Bastian theorizes that his current experiences may be recorded in the book, and that "maybe someone was reading it at that very moment".
* MetafictionalTitle
* TheMirrorShowsYourTrueSelf
* MistakenForGranite: There's a pair of winged statues that might paralyze you with all the riddles in the world if you get too close to them.
* MonkeysOnATypewriter: A disturbing take on this and, ironically, explained by a monkey. In the City of Lost Emperors, the humans who could not find their way back are unable to change, age, or die and have no knowledge of who they were or much of anything. Argax, the monkey in charge, gives some of them letter blocks they can play with and arrange into words. Argax explains that, since they are there forever, they will eventually live up to this trope.
* TheMultiverse: Briefly touched upon; Gmork's conversation with Atreyu in Spook City implies that Fantastica and the human world are part of one.
* MyGodWhatHaveIDone: [[spoiler: Bastian, after turning to the dark side for a while and nearly killing Atreyu....in fact, he thought he flat-out HAD killed Atreyu, which makes his "My God, What Have I Done?" even more dramatic.]]
* MysticalWhiteHair: The immortal Childlike Empress.
* NamedWeapons: Sikanda. The only way for Bastian to claim the sword that was destined for him was to name it, something only he could do.
* NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast: Be honest now, does "Gmork" sound like the name of someone/something you'd entrust your life with?
* NearVillainVictory: Bastian gets attacked by the Schlamoofs at the end, who destroy the picture he needs to get home and try to kidnap him. At that very moment [[spoiler:Atreyu and Falkor show up and rescue him]].
* NiceJobBreakingItHero: Bastian grants the Acharis their wish of being beautiful and happy, transforming them into the Shlamoofs. They then proceed to bother Bastian and company and he has doubts about whether he did the right thing. [[spoiler: Towards the ''very'' end of the book, they are unhappy and want to be changed back, and Moru, the Lake of Tears has dried up since they don't cry anymore. Bastian, of course, can't change them back at that point, having no memories and thus not the ability to wish, and they destroy the only thing that can return him home since they don't want him escaping.]]
* NiceJobFixingItVillain: And this after the villain is dead! [[spoiler: After Gmork dies, Atreyu gets too close and Gmork's jaws clamp down on his leg, holding him tight, unable to move. Intended to keep him from leaving as the Nothing moved in, it also helped to keep him from walking into the Nothing, which attracts Fantasticans, when it came closer, allowing Falkor to find Atreyu and save him.]]
* NighInvulnerability: Anyone who wears AURYN.
* NoEnding: Purposefully leaves almost all subplots hanging. Hence the title. However, Bastian's main plot is resolved.
* NoOntologicalInertia: After Uyulala, the voice of the Southern oracle, tells Bastian she will cease to exist, the first gate, the sphinxes go away. That part of the gate then falls and the large boulders left look as though they have been sitting on the ground for centuries complete with old moss growth.
* NobodyPoops: {{Averted|Trope}}, {{lampshade|Hanging}}d, and {{discussed|Trope}} by Bastian in the real world while reading the book. After he goes into Fantastica, it is then played straight.
* NoFourthWall: Neither for real, nor inside the book.
** The point of the book was that the book Bastian was reading was luring Bastian into breaking the fourth wall of the book. His scream is heard in the book, Atreyu enters into his image in the second gate to the Southern Oracle, and Bastian actually sees the Childlike Empress as Atreyu first saw her. Eventually, Bastian broke through the fourth wall.
** The narration describing the geography of Fantastica is introduced as a pause in the story to talk directly to the audience.
** {{Lampshade|Hanging}}d when Bastian himself, in the scene directly preceding his move to Fantastica, contemplates whether someone might be reading this scene right now.
* NoNameGiven: Applied only in the last part of the book and only for a few pages. After Bastian lost his memory of who he was, he is referred to in the narrative as the boy who no longer had a name (or some variant) or just the boy.
* TheNothingAfterDeath: "The Nothing". Characters from Fantastica who are swallowed are "reborn" in the real world - as lies (at least that's what Gmork claims). It's implied that The Nothing is caused by people in the real world becoming less honest and happy.
* ObviouslyEvil: Xayide, although [[HorribleJudgeOfCharacter Bastian fails to realize this]].
* OhLookMoreRooms: In the Temple of a Thousand Rooms, each door leads to a new room with two other doors. If a person doesn't have a concept where he wants to go, he will never leave. finding a new room behind every door. Eventually, for those who can find a way, a door will open into a part of Fantastica that is relevant to where the person wants to be.
* OlderThanTheyLook: When Bastian makes his way to Dame Eyola's House of Change, she tells him Bastian's own story in Fantasia, which began 100 years ago. Bastian doesn't believe it at first, but eventually acknowledges it has indeed been 100 years without him (or Atreyu--or anyone in Fantasia) aging.
* OmniscientMoralityLicense: The Childlike Empress fits this perfectly when she has to [[spoiler: basically mentally torture Bastian]] in order to get him to say her name. Of course, the people of two worlds were hanging in the balance, so she had justification.
* OurDragonsAreDifferent: An Eastern dragon in a story otherwise employing Western characters and other stuff. In addition, there is a western dragon named Smerg.
* {{Ouroboros}}: AURYN takes the shape of a two-serpent ouroboros. The films add an infinity knot.
* OurDoorsAreDifferent: Appropriately, in the Temple of a Thousand Doors. Doors were described as extremely thin, thick, gingerbread, buttoned, caves, shaped like an ear, mouth, etc.
* OurWerewolvesAreDifferent: Gmork, despite looking like an enormous wolf, describes himself as this. He tells Atreyu that neither Fantastica nor the Human World are his true home, for he has none. Therefore, he is able to travel between both worlds, appearing as a human in our world and a wolf in Fantastica.
* PaintingTheMedium: The book uses two different colors or typefaces for the two reality levels.
* ParentalNeglect: Bastian's father became depressed and distant after his wife died. From then on, he pretty much ignored his son.
* ParentalSubstitute: Dame Eyola becomes this to Bastian for a time.
* PatchworkMap: {{Exaggerated|Trope}} and {{justified|Trope}}. Fantastica itself constantly molds its shape, sending people traveling to various places depending on where they want to go. Thus, the geography of Fantastica can't be pinned down and it would be impossible to draw an accurate map of the place.
* PlanetOfHats: The Yskalnari.
* PlayingWithFire: You might want to avoid going into the city of Salamander...
* PortalBook
* PrecisionFStrike: "Go to hell, you little fool! Do you want to keep me alive until the Nothing gets here?"
* ProphecyTwist: Al Tsahir, a magical shining stone, taken from a unicorn's horn. When he receives it, Bastian is shown a prophecy. Three things of note: speaking the stone's true name will have it shine its light for Bastian for a thousand years. Bastian does this. Speaking the stone's name ''backwards'' will have it release all its thousand years of light in a single instant. Bastian does this, and it then vanishes. But another part of the prophecy "I will guide him in Yor's Minroud" comes to bite him in the butt when he finds out that he managed to ScrewDestiny by destroying the stone. Yor's Minroud is a mine, and without Al Tsahir, he must dig and grope for his lost dream in total darkness.
* RainbowSpeak: A rare literature example, used to distinguish Bastian reading the book from the actual adventures ''in'' the book. Only certain editions of the book do this (namely hardcover versions), while the others (paperback) simply use italics.
* ReadingAheadInTheScript: Subverted when the Childlike Empress asks the Old Man of Wandering Mountain to read ahead in the Neverending Story that he is writing. He tells her there is nothing but empty pages.
* RealityWarper: AURYN identifies what the wearer really and truly wants, and can then guide them on their task or, if they have memories of the human world to give up, turn those wishes into reality. Humans can also warp reality in Fantastica without assistance; since Fantastica is the land of imagination, peopled with beings who cannot fashion anything new, anyone from the real world with a little creativity can do it. If you actually ''tell a story'' in Fantastica, it will become true, and will always have been true, even if history must be changed to accommodate that, because reality and fantasy are one and the same in Fantastica.
* RealityWritingBook
* RescueRomance: Subverted with Hero Hynreck, who saved his one true love Princess Oglamar but decided he no longer wanted to marry her.
* RewritingReality: The Neverending Story is a book inside Fantastica (which makes it a book within a book within a book). The Old Man of Wandering Mountain sits in solitude, writing in it. Everything written in the book happens, and everything that happens is written, by the Old Man, into the book. At one point, the Childlike Empress forces Bastian's hand by having the Old Man recite what he has written. This leads to him reciting every line in the book (beginning with the first line of the ''actual'' book, recounting Bastian's tale), and writing what he says, which creates more lines for him to read, and causes those events to re-happen, ad infinitum.
* RhymesOnADime: Uyulala. In fact, she ''can't'' speak without rhyming, and also cannot hear people if they do not talk to her in verse. (Atreyu manages to get a knack for it rather quickly.)
* RiddlingSphinx: The Southern Oracle is protected by two sphinxes whose gazes hold the victim still until they have answered every riddle in the world. Needless to say, anyone who is caught by the sphinxes dies of thirst long before they even make a dent in that task.
* RuleOfThree
* SapientSteed
* SavageWolf: Gmork is a hitman sent by "the force behind the Nothing" to kill Atreyu and thereby doom the world.
* SaveBothWorlds
* SayMyName:
** In the end of the first half, Bastian must say the Childlike Empress's new true name, so that she can be healed, the Nothing can be dispelled, and Bastian can be brought to Fantastica. It takes some doing to get him to actually say it.
** Many other things in Fantastica are affected by one saying their true name; see IKnowYourTrueName. Al Tsahir is one prime example.
* SenselessSacrifice: [[spoiler: Ilwan, the blue djinn, sacrificed himself to save Ghemmal, the belt of invisibility, from a fire. While chasing after Atreyu, Bastian fell off his iron steed after it broke apart, dropped Ghemmal, and never thought of it again.]]
* SerpentOfImmortality: This is the visual motif behind [[http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fb/AURYN_72.JPG AURYN]], the amulet representing the power of the immortal Childlike Empress.
* ShakespeareInFiction: When the three knights stroll along with Bastian, they sing "When That I was and a Little Tiny Boy" (which we know from ''Theatre/TwelfthNight''), which they learned from a previous human visitor to Fantasia/Fantastica, "name of Shexper, or something of the sort."
* ShiningCity: The Ivory Tower, the Silver City of Amarganth.
* ShoutOut:
** The City of Old Emperors, filled with madmen, is modelled on the 'madhouse of Cairo' where Theatre/PeerGynt is brought in the famous Creator/HenrikIbsen play.
** [[ShoutOut/ToShakespeare Shout-Out: To Shakespeare]]: Quotes the ''Twelfth Night'' song that begins:
--->When that I was and a little tiny boy\\
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain
** Franchise/TolkiensLegendarium is referenced on a number of occasions:
*** The dragon Smerg, which sounds an awful lot like [[Literature/TheHobbit Smaug]]
*** Smerg's lair is said to be in a land called Morgul, which is a name applied to multiple places and objects in MiddleEarth.
*** The construction and layout of the Ivory Tower is quite similar to that of Minas Tirith.
*** The bark trolls are awfully similar to Ents in their description.
* SpellMyNameWithAnS: Fantasia? Fantastica? Depends which version you're reading (or watching). "Fantasia" is a more direct equivalent of the German original (''Phantásien''), but the standard English translation of the novel uses "Fantastica", possibly to avoid confusion with any of the several things already called ''Fantasia'' in English, like [[Disney/{{Fantasia}} Walt Disney's movie]]. The films use "Fantasia".
* SpiritAdvisor: The Purple Buffalo that Atreyu didn't kill in his ritual hunt to officially become a hunter becomes this in Atreyu's dreams. He is the one who points Atreyu to Morla as a thanks for not killing him and instead answering the call of Cairon, whose job was to send him on the mission to save Fantasia.
* StrawNihilist: Morla, due to her long lifespan, has seen things come and go, and became convinced that nothing matters.
* SynchronizedSwarming: Ygramul, which forms a devilish face, a giant scorpion, a fist...
* TalkingAnimal: All the animals in Fantastica.
* TakenForGranite:
** Smerg's ice-cold breath has this effect, and turns some trees to stone.
** Grogramann every night.
* TaxidermyTerror: Bastian sees the preserved heads of a fox, an eagle and an owl, and later in Fantastica he meets three sages with the heads of said animals.
* TechnicolorEyes: The Childlike Empress has [[SupernaturalGoldEyes solid golden eyes]].
* ThatsNoMoon: Morla. Atreyu thinks she lives on Tortoise Shell Mountain so he climbs it to find her - only to find out that Morla ''is'' the Tortoise Shell Mountain.
* TheFourthWallWillNotProtectYou:
** Bastian looks out at the fourth wall outright of the book he was reading during one chapter...
** And the Childlike Empress outright demands for the Old Man Of Wandering Mountain to read the book that YOU are reading, creating an endless loop based round that one event!
* TheResenter: This is the Gmork's reason for wanting to see Fantastica destroyed; the Fantasticans have a world to call home, and he never did.
* ThresholdGuardians:
** The two golden sphinxes Atreyu has to pass.
** The second doorway to the Oracle is a mirror you have to step through, which shows fears or thoughts of the seeker. The third door, on the other hand, plays this a bit more... strangely: you can't pass it if you want to, because it's made of some kind of {{phlebotinum}} that shuts the door ever faster the more you want it to open. Good thing then that the mirror also temporarily wipes your memory to see if you'll go through on curiosity alone.
* TimeAbyss: The Childlike Empress, who has existed at least as long as Fantastica has (that is, she is as old as human imagination). The Old Man of Wandering Mountain is just as old, and has existed just as long. Morla, and some of the residents of the City of Old Emperors, may also count.
* TitleDrop: "The Neverending Story" is, of course, the name of the book Bastian is reading, but ''within'' the book the phrase is first used by Gmork:
-->"What are you creatures of Fantastica? Dreams, poetic inventions, characters in a neverending story."
* TrappedInAnotherWorld
* TurtleIsland: The wise Morla who lives in the Swamps of Sadness
* TwoActStructure: The first half of the book is a fairly conventional fantasy adventure. The second half is considerably heavier and more philosophical.
* UnbuiltTrope: The second half of the book brutally deconstructs the idea of [[spoiler: TheChosenOne TrappedInAnotherWorld. After physically entering Fantastica and rebuilding it, Bastian's newfound ego runs amok. Rather than heal the world, he does tremendous harm to feed his power fantasies, leading to a number of tragic events. He is ultimately only able to go home when Atreyu and Falcor selflessly agree to fix all the damage he did]]. But the book predates their becoming very commonplace in children's fiction by a wide margin.
* TheUnseen: The Manipulators that Gmork works for. Also Gaya the Dark Princess, who traps him in Spook City.
* VagueAge: Bastian is described as being a boy of ten or twelve.
* VillainousBSOD: Xayide's.
* TheVoice: Uyulala, the rhyming voice of silence beyond the No Key Gate.
* VoiceForTheVoiceless: Interesting variant on this. The Childlike Empress only hears The Old Man of Wandering Mountain as if she remembered that he just said spoke. His mouth never moves.
* WalkingWasteland: Grograman, [[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast the Many Colored Death]]. The desert in which he lives travels with him, and extends for many, many miles around him, so intense is the heat that he carries with him. Only Bastian has ever been able to speak with him without dying, and that's because he had the protection of AURYN.
* WellDoneSonGuy: After his wife's death, Bastian's father became emotionally distant and Bastian couldn't figure out how to even get him to care about him anymore.
* WhamLine: skooB dlO rednaeroK darnoK lraK. Makes no sense, does it? [[spoiler:Well, Look at the mirrored text on the VERY FIRST PAGE OF YOUR BOOK.]]
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: Invoked: "But that is another story and shall be told another time".
* WithGreatPowerComesGreatInsanity: [[spoiler: Happens to Bastian towards the end.]]
* WorldBuilding: One of the most prominent {{deconstruction}}s of this trope. Many chapters end by tailing off abruptly, excusing itself by saying that it's AnotherStoryForAnotherTime. It gets through illustrating people, places and things and then stops because the story recognises that a world should be far greater than the narrative it serves. Fully fleshing it all out would bog the story down in endless description of yet more people, places and things in order to explain where these people, places and things came from. In doing so it posits that, in order to fully realise a fictional setting, you'd have to literally write a neverending story.
* TheWormThatWalks: Ygramul the Many, a myriad of blue beetles [[HiveMind acting as one]], most of the time forming a big spider but changing into other forms when fighting with its prey or into a huge face with antennae instead of a tongue when talking to Atreyu.
* YearInsideHourOutside:
** Atreyu spends what he feels is just less than a day at the Southern Oracle but actually a week has passed for everyone outside the Oracle, though it is slightly averted as time did pass for Atreyu as he notices his wounds are significantly healed.
** Bastian spends 100 years in Fantasia while only about 12 hours pass on Earth.
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!!Adaptations with their own trope pages include:

* ''Film/TheNeverendingStory'' (film and sequels)

!!Other adaptations provide examples of:

* AmazingTechnicolorPopulation: The animated series, unlike the live-action adaptations, follows the novel's description of Atreyu having green skin.
* AnimatedAdaptation
* AscendedExtra: Barktroll, a minor character at best in other adaptations, is almost a {{Deuteragonist}} in the cartoon.
* BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor: The animated episode ''The Dreaming Fields'' has all the characters getting exactly what they wished for...with the wishes turning bad by the end of the episode.
* ExcaliburInTheRust: Sikanda in the animated series.
* IAteWhat: In the third episode of the live-action adaptation, Atreyu and Tartus enjoy a meal they got from the escaped Woodlanders children, but when they hear the ingredients, they stop immediately.
* PlantPerson: Barktroll
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