aka: Seven Basic Conflicts
"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?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).
— A Disney special on the importance of villains
- Man vs. Man, the problem is another character (Bob needs to defeat Alice to become Class President).
- Man vs. Self, the problem lies inside the protagonist (Bob doesn't know how to express his emotions to Alice).
- Man vs. Nature, the problem comes from natural sources (Bob's town is destroyed by a volcano, or Alice is sick).
- Man vs. Society, the problem is the social environment (Alice struggles to maintain her dignity in a sexist community).
- Man vs. God/Fate, the problem is destiny, eventuality, fate, or divine will (Bob does not want to fulfill a prophecy that he will lose his family).
- Man caught in the Middle, of other characters/conflicts.
- Male and Female, Quibbler-Couch was persuaded to remove the "versus".
- 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.
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).
- Contrived Stupidity Tropes (when the conflict comes from contrivances)
- Internal Conflict Tropes
- The Plot Demanded This Index
- Rule of Drama (other Rule of Index tropes are for different reasons)
- Violence Tropes