troperville

tools

toys


main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
Conflict
"Once there was a beautiful girl named Snow White, who lived with seven dwarfs, and they lived Happily Ever After." Pretty dull, isn't it?
A Disney special on the importance of villains

This is the basic problem to overcome in a story, the driving force. If you don't have conflict, you don't have a story. Or just a story of things happening without incident.

More than any other trope, save for the Characters who are in a conflict, this is vital to fiction. You can likely find loads of theories and essays on why this is so, but here just trust us. You need it.

Conflict can come in many forms. According to Arthur Quiller-Couch, there are seven kinds of conflict, creating seven basic plots (Not to be confused with The Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Booker, which articulates a theory closer to that of The Hero's Journey).

  1. Man vs. Man,
  2. Man vs. Self.
  3. Man vs. Nature
  4. Man vs. Society.
  5. Man vs. God/Fate
  6. Man caught in the Middle, of other characters/conflicts.
  7. Male and Female. Quiller-Couch was persuaded to remove the "versus".
  8. Going beyond Quiller-Couch's list, there is also Man vs. Machine, as in machinery. Most commonly told from the perspective of a worker being replaced by a machine.

Traditionalists boil it down to the first three, redefining "Man" as a defeatable entity and "Nature" as anything that has to be survived or changed rather than defeated. According to the three basic conflicts, Zombie Apocalypse would thus be Man Vs. Nature.

Now, it seems that some fiction doesn't have conflict, but even then it's presented as a challenge, which is the third type of conflict. See No Antagonist. Of course not every work in media needs conflict, but those tend to be non-fiction, or some episodes of Slice of Life series can also qualify. If it's a story or game, conflict drives it.

It could be said that Mary Sue stories are weak because there is no conflict in how the Sue achieves things, or that the conflict is so weak and ineffectual that it still comes across that way (as with Anti Sues and Boring Invincible Heroes). Conversely, some works come off as weak because the conflict is too grave. Like many other things, it's wise to strike a balance between the two.

A Super Trope to Chandler's Law, Finagle's Law, Rising Conflict (for how conflict plays out in Three Act Structure).


Due to its universality, this is a huge Super Trope. Any examples are best listed in these Sub Tropes (or notable instances of conflict on individual work pages).


VillainsNarrative TropesContrived Stupidity Tropes
The ClimaxOmnipresent TropesConsistency
The Coconut EffectMeta-ConceptsRising Conflict
Character AlignmentBooks on TropeThe Hero's Journey
ComedyLit. Class TropesDeconstruction

alternative title(s): Seven Basic Conflicts; Three Basic Conflicts; Tension
random
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
8510
3