Follow TV Tropes


Battle Epic

Go To

This is a subtrope of The Epic in which the course of an actual military campaign in some combination of Real Life or traditional history is the main subject. Because of this, the plot, setting, and characters will come pre-constructed. This decreases flexibility but saves work for the author, though he still has enough to do. It is written from an authorial omniscience perspective and shows the viewpoint of one Historical Domain Character after another on both sides. It has the advantage that these are usually written about a real battle. This type leans heavily on special effects.

If the title of a movie is the same as the name by which a campaign is recorded in historical accounts, that is a clue that this is a Battle Epic.

This trope is Older Than Feudalism. However it is most common in films. Sometimes it can be a TV mini series.



    open/close all folders 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 300, and its sequel Rise of an Empire: an interpretative, badass retelling of two of the major campaigns of the Greco-Persian Wars - Thermopylae and Salamis, respectively.
  • Alexander Nevsky chronicles the Battle on the Ice between the Republic of Novgorod and the Teutonic Knights.
  • Battle of Britain
  • Battle of the Bulge
  • Battle of Okinawa
  • Black Hawk Down: About the Battle of Mogadishu.
  • A Bridge Too Far
  • Dracula Untold: Dracula's war against the Ottoman Empire.
  • Gettysburg (1993): About one of the largest battles of the The American Civil War.
  • Gods And Generals (2003): Follows the first half of the The American Civil War, focusing on the career of Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, and featuring the battles of 1st Bull Run (a.k.a. 1st Manassas), Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville. Based on the novel with the same name by Jeffrey Shaara.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is about the Dwarf, Elf and Orc conflict over The Lonely Mountain, Erebor, and the treasure within left after Smaug's death, in particular The Arkenstone.
  • Kingdom of Heaven
  • The Longest Day
  • The Lord of the Rings: the film trilogy depicts Sauron's attempt to conquer the free peoples of Middle-Earth in earnest on two fronts.
    • The Two Towers: Saruman gets corrupted by Sauron and sends his armies of Uruk Hai warriors against the human kingdom of Rohan. They besiege the fortress of Helm's Deep, where the heroes are entrenched.
    • The Return of the King: Sauron's full-blown assault on the kingdom of Gondor with his armies of orcs and affiliated. They besiege the citadel of Minas Tirith. Later at the end, the remaining forces of good of Middle Earth gather in front of Sauron's home turf, Mordor, as a distraction to give a chance to Frodo to destroy the One Ring.
  • Midway
  • Patton
  • Red Cliff (2009): Film of the Book of Romance of the Three Kingdoms, directed by John Woo.
  • Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970): The attack on Pearl Harbor, told from both perspectives.
  • Waterloo: Depicts Napoleon's return from his first exile, his attempts to defeat the coalition of allies against him, and the climactic battle at Waterloo. Included the use of over 17,000 extras, (15,000 Red Army soldiers as infantry, and over 2,000 trained horsemen) to give the scenes the epic scope required. It is often said, only half jokingly, that during filming director Sergei Bondarchuk commanded one of the largest armies in the world.

  • The Battle of Maldon: Fragmentary Old English epic poem about a historical battle between Anglo-Saxons and Vikings in the 990s CE.
  • The Cattle Raid of Cooley: Ancient Irish prose epic about a war between the two enemy kingdoms Connacht and Ulster.
  • The Iliad: Possibly Trope Maker. It was thought to be essentially historical (if not in every detail) by the listeners.
  • Romance of the Three Kingdoms: Likely more close to history than Iliad.
  • The Song of Roland: Medieval epic around the clash of Franks and Saracens at Roncesvalles in the Pyrenees, 778 CE.note 
  • "Tale of Styrbjörn": An exiled Viking prince battles his uncle for the kingdom of Sweden. A short tale thanks to its extreme condensation, but epic in scope.

    Live-Action TV 

    Tabletop Game 
  • Quite a few stories and settings from Dungeons & Dragons are war-centric. A few splatbooks even have rules on how to run an entire war, including rules for army combat and so on, showing the game's Chainmail roots.
  • A frequent situation in Warhammer, for both its RPGs and wargame, if the name wasn't enough of a giveaway.
  • Pathfinder has optional rules for running mass battles and some of its adventure paths, like Wrath of the Righteous, take place during major conflicts in its setting.

    Video Games 


Video Example(s):


Call of Duty 2 Opening

Compared to most other titles in the series, ''Call of Duty 2'' emphasizes the Battle Epic the most. It features 3 campaigns set across Europe and North Africa from 1941 all the way to 1945, covering 3 different divisions from 3 different nations all fighting the Nazi war machine.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

Main / BattleEpic

Media sources:

Main / BattleEpic