* DracoInLeatherPants: Grendel is the kind of monster that kills warriors in their sleep, rips them to shreds, and eats them on the spot. Yet, a lot of adaptations, such as John Gardner's ''Literature/{{Grendel}}'', the 2005 film ''Beowulf and Grendel'', and the 2007 film, tend to portray Grendel sympathetically, despite the fact that in the poem, out of the three monsters, he's the one the narrator condemns the harshest and the most often.
* FirstInstallmentWins: The first portion of the story is the most familiar to the layman, including such well-known elements as Beowulf's having the strength of thirty men and ripping Grendel's arm off.
* HoYay: In Seamus Heaney's translation, Hrothgar's farewell to Beowulf seems extremely... intimate.
* ValuesDissonance:
** To the Anglo-Saxons, Beowulf would be a perfect hero, representing all that the Anglo-Saxons stand for[[note]]Even though he was a [[UsefulNotes/{{Sweden}} Geat]] and most likely a pagan in the original version[[/note]]. To modern readers, Beowulf can come off as a selfish, arrogant brute who perpetually seeks fame.
** Although the text repeatedly conveys that Beowulf's defeat of Grendel was a noble act, the description of the scene is so bone-crunchingly brutal that it makes Beowulf look downright sadistic. You almost feel sorry for Grendel. This is part of the reason that more people are making Grendel a DracoInLeatherPants in modern times. The mere fact that Grendel is [[TheDescendantsOfCain a descendant of Cain]] would've struck most Anglo-Saxons as reason enough for Grendel to be deserving of his miserable life in the swamp--to a modern reader, punishing someone for their ancestor's deeds just comes across as petty.
** The men who do not come to Beowulf's aid in the fight against the dragon are dishonoured, and their male relatives condemned to shame and banishment.
* {{Woolseyism}}: Seamus Heaney's translation. On the one hand, it was done by a UsefulNotes/{{Nobel Prize|In Literature}}-winning poet, so it reads very well to say the least. On the other hand, he took a lot of liberties with the text, such as anglicizing the name "Scyld Scefing" to "Shield Sheafson." Needless to say, there's a BrokenBase on this one.
** One instance was to enforce a [[OneSteveLimit One Beowulf Limit]] -- both Scyld's son and our hero are both called "Beowulf" in the original, and so Heaney changed the former's name to simply "Beow" for clarity.
* TheWoobie: Poor, poor Hrothgar. You just want to build the next wonder of the world, and for years to come a monster is feasting on your men, and you know you can't do anything about it. When you finally get rid of the monster, another one comes and kills one of your best warriors. When ''that'' one is taken care of, you're so grateful towards the hero that did it that you hope to meet him again, but know that you won't because you're dying, and after you're dead, your prized hall is destroyed and your nephew, who you hope to watch over your sons, ends up killing them. Hrothgar's life ''sucks.''