[[quoteright:330:[[Comicbook/{{Fables}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/snow_queen_in_new_york_2480.jpg]]]]

->''"Fantasy isn't just a jolly escape: It's an escape, but into something far more extreme than reality, or normality. It's where things are more beautiful and more wondrous and more terrifying. You move into a world of conflicting extremes."''
-->-- '''Creator/TerryGilliam'''

->''"Fantasy is the metaphor through which we discover ourselves."''
-->-- '''Creator/SusanCooper'''

Fantasy: it's stuff with magic in it, not counting PsychicPowers, or MagicFromTechnology, or anything [[HorrorTropes meant to frighten]], or MagicalRealism, or anything strongly religious, or the technology behind the magic is {{Magitek}}, or -- where did that clean-cut definition go?

While the core of the fantasy genre is clear enough, there is no succinct definition that encompasses it all. The boundary with ScienceFiction is [[Analysis/SpeculativeFiction notoriously ambiguous]] and the boundary with horror is often no less fuzzy. Religiously inspired works, like the ''LeftBehind'' series, can have a basic good versus evil plotline that would fit well in HighFantasy, but few would place it there. And so on.

Often placed outside the Fantasy genre, or not marketed as such:

* {{Demythtification}} - real-world {{mythology}} as [[MaybeMagicMaybeMundane semi-mundane]] [[HistoricalFiction history]] that "inspired the legend". Inverse of Magical Realism.
* GothicLiterature, ClassicLiterature, ChivalricRomance, FairyTales, {{Romanticism}}, and mythology can be seen as precursors but are usually excluded.
* MagicalRealism, in which Fantasy elements intermingle with the realism of a contemporary novel.
* MundaneFantastic, in which Fantasy elements (or {{Superhero}} or ScienceFiction) mix with more naturalistic elements.
* {{Wuxia}} - Chinese High Fantasy or Heroic Fantasy, with [[KnightErrant all]] [[ImplausibleFencingPowers the]] [[TheQuest elements]]. usually marketed as LitFic outside China.
* {{Xenofiction}} - Fantasy from a [[MostWritersAreHuman nonhuman]] (alien or [[TalkingAnimal wild animal]]) perspective.

Almost always marketed as Fantasy:

* ComicFantasy, which includes parodies, fractured fairy tales, and anything that doesn't take itself, its setting, or its tropes too seriously
* DarkFantasy, which is fantasy DarkerAndEdgier.
* GaslampFantasy, fantasy with an AlternateHistory 19th-century setting (or reasonable approximation thereof).
* FantasticNoir, a mixture of the FilmNoir detective story with the more colorful aspects of {{fantasy}} and ScienceFiction.
* HeroicFantasy, (also called Sword and Sorcery): TropeCodifier is the ''[[ConanTheBarbarian Conan]]'' stories.
* HighFantasy, (also called Epic Fantasy): TropeCodifier is ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'' (but there [[OlderThanTheyThink were many precursors]]).
* HistoricalFantasy - a version of the history of our world, but with ''significant'' fantasy elements added.
* LowFantasy - anything ''not'' set in our world which isn't one of the others.
* MagicalLand - virtually a sub-genre in itself, and common in works for children. This overlaps with Modern Fantasy.
* {{Mythopoeia}} is also an established variant.
* ScienceFantasy, which overlaps with other sub-genres, as well as ScienceFiction
* UrbanFantasy - confusingly, has two meanings:
** a) A story which takes place in ''our'' world, or a recognizable AlternateHistory version of it
** b) Takes place in a major city in a fantastic world.
+ SpeculativeFictionTropes
+ SpeculativeFictionCreatorIndex
* ThudAndBlunder is a subgenre.

+ FantasyAnimatedFilms
+ FantasyAnimeAndManga
+ FantasyComicBooks
+ FantasyFilms
+ FantasyLiterature
+ FantasySeries
+ FantasyTabletopGames
+ FantasyVideoGames
+ FantasyVisualNovels
+ FantasyWebcomics
+ FantasyWebOriginals
+ FantasyWesternAnimation

Common features of genre fantasy include:

'''A secondary world''': A world whose connection with our present day world ranges from nominal to non-existent. It could be the remote past or future, or simply a-historical. The inhabitants can be anything from human only, through the standard elves, dwarves and orcs, to a complete FantasyKitchenSink. See StandardFantasySetting for the, er, standard fantasy setting.

'''Appeal to a [[{{Arcadia}} pastoral]] ideal''': Much genre fantasy, of all genres, appeals to the pastoral ideal, one reason for the pseudo-medieval settings. Even urban fantasies will quite often depict cities as blots on the landscape, whose denizens are blinded to what really matters by material ephemera. There are some fantasies, however, which either deliberately take the opposite stance or present a more balanced worldview.

'''MagicAndPowers''': FunctionalMagic is almost always present, though its role in the world can vary widely. It might be either respected, feared, persecuted, or simply not believed in. Its frequency varies from the stuff of legend, through to rare but available to the well connected, up to a ubiquitous part of everyday life. {{Magitek}} usually lies at the extreme end of this scale. It may be taught through a [[MasterApprenticeChain master and apprentice system]], or in a [[WizardingSchool magical university]], when it can be taught at all. When wizards are immortal, they don't need to train successors, and may not be able to.

However, even magic itself isn't a required element, as novels such as Ellen Kushner's ''Literature/{{Swordspoint}}'', K.J. Parker's ''Devices & Desires'' or Ricardo Pinto's ''Literature/TheStoneDanceOfTheChameleon'' which feature no magic whatsoever but take place in an alternate, pseudo-historical world, are still classified as fantasy. This is due in part to their widespread use of other tropes associated with fantasy, particularly LowFantasy. (''Swordspoint'' is an interesting case, because while it contains no supernatural elements in itself, one of its sequels, ''The Fall of the Kings'', is largely concerned with TheMagicComesBack.)