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An epic is a long story centered on a heroic character that describes a series of exceptional events, similar to and suggestive of epic poetry. There are numerous epics in fiction and storytelling. Epics are majestic depictions and capture impressive struggles, such as stories of war, adventures, and other efforts of great scope and size over long periods of time.

Originally limited to literature and theater, epics have expanded into visual realm with the advent of film. Variants include:

  • Epic Poem (the predominant form of classical epics)
  • Epic Narrative (modern literary epics, as well as some traditional narratives)
  • Epic Movie (more broadly defined, includes film adaptations of the literary epic as defined here)
    • Battle Epic (sub-trope, when a movie is focused on war or a battle)

Some basic guidelines:

  • A longer-than-average story that...
  • ... Is wide in scope (not just one battle or skirmish, but a country-wide/planet-wide/galaxy-wide war or catastrophe) and...
  • ... Follows one hero, group of heroes or bloodline, who...
  • ... Strive to achieve a particular goal or complete a quest, in the course of which they...
  • ... Commit extraordinary deeds and...
  • ... Have multiple (three or more) separate adventures in the course of their quest or journey.

The classic epics had their own guidelines:

  • Starting In Medias Res, usually later having The Hero explain via Flashback How We Got Here.
  • In Greek epics, "Invocation of the Muse": formally asking one of the Muses to help the author live up to the task of doing the story justice, or achieve whatever goal they have in mind for it.
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  • Often, a journey to the Underworld.

Can be divided into a few different subgenres. The divisions also come in two flavors, Form and Subject (may be subtropes/genres). Both forms can be divided by subject:

  • Heroic (one person, may include companions, but focused on the person)
  • Familial (follows a particular lineage)
  • and National (follows the history of an entire nation, not common)

Not to be confused with the modern bastardization of the term just to mean "awesome."

This is a distinguishing characteristic of Space Opera and High Fantasy, in that both are the Epic versions of Science Fiction and Fantasy respectively.

Please do not add an example without ensuring that it first meets the criteria.


Classical Epics

Modern epics:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • AKIRA, both the manga and the film.
  • Attack on Titan: A company of brave soldiers fight the people-eating giants who terrorize humanity and pursue the answers behind the horrifying mysteries of their world. It is basically a Heroic epic focused on Eren, but places major emphasis on his companions in the survey Corp., especially Mikasa and Armin.
  • Basara
  • Berserk: In a world where fate is controlled by demonic forces, a warrior seeks the cure for his lover's insanity and revenge against the friend who betrayed them in exchange for godlike power. It fits the Heroic epic mold, being a long story about the multiple adventures and great deeds of Guts and his companions. As an added bonus, the manga and anime both begin In Medias Res and all versions include at least one trip to the underworld—or rather that universe's equivalent.
  • Black Clover: A magic-less boy in a world where everyone else is a mage gains the power of anti-magic swords, and joins a Magic Knight squad who protect the kingdom from threats on his journey to become the greatest Magic Knight of them all.
  • Bleach: A teenager is given the power of a shinigami and uses it to aid an organization dedicated to cleansing souls of evil and helping them pass on to the afterlife.
  • B: The Beginning
  • Bubblegum Crisis
  • Claymore: In a world where monsters called Yoma prey on human and only a new special breed of female warriors can fight them, one of these warriors, Clare, seeks revenge against the creature that robbed her of a person she cared deeply about. The story starts off In Medias Res, following Clare in her missions and development as a person, it then grows to follow the adventures of group of survivors as they slowly understand that in their world things are not as they appear, and their actions will ultimately determine the fate of all of their own comrades and the land they live on.
  • Code Geass: Upon being granted a supernatural power to control people, a young genius takes control of the resistance movement to liberate Japan from The Empire.
  • The Dagger of Kamui: One of the earliest ninja epic of the genre.
  • Death Note: Granted a supernatural notebook that will cause the death of whoever's name is written in it, a young genius plots to rid the world of criminals while the world's greatest detective attempts to end his reign of terror. A Heroic epic about a Villain Protagonist with elements of Tragedy.
  • D.Gray-Man
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: A young boy comes home from running errands in a nearby village to find his family slaughtered and his sister transformed into a demon. He sets out to find a way to turn her back into a human, joining an order of swordsmen who use special powers to slay demons, leading him into conflict with increasingly powerful demons to find a cure.
  • Dragon Ball: The life and times of the greatest warrior the world has ever seen.
  • Devilman
  • El-Hazard: The Magnificent World
  • Fairy Tail: A teenage wizard joins the titular guild and helps them out with their quests. It starts with missions for money, some stages develops into always greater scope, that has an entire world at risk.
  • Fate/stay night: The adopted son of a mage is forced into a seven-way battle for the Holy Grail between mages controlling resurrected heroes of myth and legend. A Heroic epic focused on Shirou and his companions.
    • Fate/Zero: The story behind the tragic events of the Fourth Holy Grail War, which set the stage for those of Fate/stay night. This prequel decisively broadens the story into a Familial epic as a major theme is how the descendants of the Fourth War's participants inherited their parents' powers, conflicts, curses, and ideals.
  • Fist of the North Star
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Two disfigured brothers search for a way to undo their mistakes of the past, only to be engulfed in a massive political conspiracy.
    • Also the 2003 anime, which has the same basic premise but goes in a different direction halfway through. Compared to the manga, it's mainly centered on the trials and tribulations of the Elric brothers, and has a more personal conflict, but it's still quite large in scope, since it involves a government conspiracy similar to the one from the manga, as well as an Alternate Universe. The original source material is more of a National epic, while the 2003 anime is more of a Heroic epic.
  • Getter Robo
  • Girls und Panzer: In a World... where Non-Lethal Warfare fought by schoolgirls with Tanks is a Martial Art that moves and shakes the fate of nations, a disgraced young warrior reluctantly returns to the path of "Panzercraft" to protect her School and newfound home from imminent closure
    • Girls und Panzer der Film: Continuing from previous plot, a corrupt authority goes back on his words and betrays the protagonists. Previous rivals joins forces against their differences to help the heroes proving their mettle to the world as said disgraced young warrior faces her fated ancestral rival.
  • Hellsing: With the most powerful vampire of all at their side, an elite government organization protects England from supernatural threats and goes to war with vampiric Nazis trying to take over the world.
  • Hunter × Hunter: A young boy sets out to become a Hunter to find his father, encountering many criminals, monsters, and other difficult challenges along the way.
  • Inuyasha: A high school girl falls into a well that transports her to Feudal-Era Japan, where she meets the titular Inuyasha and travels with him and a group of other allies to find the scattered shards of the Shikon Jewel before the demon Naraku can obtain them.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: A mighty hero studies a secret art in order to kill an undead vampire, setting in motion a multi-generational epic. This is definitely a Familial epic, as it follows a bloodline of heroes through history with each story focused on a different member.
  • Kill la Kill: A rebellious young woman equipped with a sentient power-enhancing uniform challenges a tyrannical student council president, seeking answers about the murder of her father.
  • Legend of Galactic Heroes: Two heroes and a supporting cast of hundreds find themselves on opposite sides of a war that will determine whether mankind will be ruled by democracy or autocracy — and the choice isn't as clear-cut as it may seem on the surface.
  • The Legend of Mother Sarah: A strong and determined woman travels a post-apocalyptic wasteland, searching for her lost children in the midst of a catastrophic war. Despite the theme of family it is basically a Heroic epic focused on Sarah.
  • Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic
  • Mahou Sensei Negima!
  • Mai-HiME: A deconstruction that analyzes what happens when the once-perfect Magical Girl is burdened with the tragic-flaws of mythic heroes.
  • Most full-length Gundam series fall under this.
  • Heavy Metal L-Gaim
  • The Mazinger franchise, with all their sequels and spin-offs throughout forty years, definitely fits:
  • Monster: A Japanese brain surgeon in Germany seeks to kill a young man whose life he once saved, who has grown up to be a deceiver and killer as terrible as the Antichrist.
  • My Hero Academia: A powerless boy suddenly inherits the strength of The World's Greatest Superhero, and enrolls with a new generation of young heroes in an Academy of Adventure to carry on the Flame of Justice and Hope once borne by the now dying Champion of Peace.
  • Naruto: A young ninja strives for greatness, and in the process is embroiled in a conflict that will decide the fate of the world.
  • Neo Human Casshern
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: After the apocalypse, a group of children are involuntarily charged with defending the remnants of the human race from alien beings seeking their destruction, or so they think...
  • Noir
  • One Piece: A young adventurer embarks on a quest to seize the greatest treasure the world has ever known, and in the process involuntarily joins the world's most-wanted list.
  • Panzer World Galient
  • Princess Mononoke: Tainted by a demonic curse that will end his life, a wise prince struggles to end a war between the deities of the forest and the humans of Irontown.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Approached by a creature who offers to make her a magical girl, an ordinary girl is plunged into a destructive cycle of suffering, tragedy, and despair that determines the fate of the entire universe.
  • Record of Lodoss War
  • Robot Romance Trilogy
  • Red Photon Zillion
  • Ronin Warriors
  • Rurouni Kenshin: After losing everything in a war that changes Japan forever, a wandering swordsman vows never to kill again and settles down in a dojo that's fallen on hard times, finding friends, love, and a new home for himself, while dealing with his past and stopping rebels who seek to overthrow the current government.
  • Sailor Moon
  • Saint Seiya
  • Science Ninja Team Gatchaman
  • Scrapped Princess
  • Soul Eater: Three masters and their shape-shifting human weapons fight the ultimate embodiment of madness.
  • Soul Hunter: A young Immortal on a quest to defeats and seals rogue immortals on human world and in doing so, involves in a plot that could changes the fate of the entire planet.
  • Strike Witches
  • Tekkaman
  • Tenchi Muyo!
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: A timid boy granted the key to a unique mecha grows into a hero who will liberate humanity from its oppressors through sheer willpower and passion.
  • Trigun; especially the manga.
  • Tweeny Witches
  • 20th Century Boys
  • Vinland Saga: The story of a young Viking hell-bent on revenge for his fathers murder, until he stands before nothing.
  • Ushio and Tora
  • Utawarerumono: National epic of Tuskur, under Emperor Hakuoro.
  • Vagabond: how the legend of the greatest swordsman ever in Japan, Miyamoto Musashi, was forged. The manga is an adaption from the novel Musashi, itself one of the greatest epics in the history of Japanese literature.
  • Yu Yu Hakusho: A juvenile delinquent dies, then gets brought back from the dead to help the afterlife solve paranormal mysteries and defeat powerful demons.
  • Zambot 3

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 


    Light Novels 


    Live-Action TV 


  • Food for the Gods by Fireaxe spans three discs, and is just a few minutes under 4 hours long. It follows the history of religion throughout the centuries.
  • Owl City gives off vibes of... all sorts of things, but "To the Sky" in particular hints at an epic, massive adventure.
    On the heels of war and wonder
    There's a stormy world up there
    You can't whisper above the thunder
    But you can fly anywhere.

    Purple burst of paper birds
    This picture paints a thousand words
    So take a breath of myth and mystery
    And don't look back.
  • Moira, which was deliberately written to resemble classical Greek epics.
  • Coheed and Cambria's entire discography.

    Tabletop Games 
  • GURPS has a number of potential epics for the Game Master to work with in its various Sourcebooks some of which are quite well done. Several are suggested in the sample campaigns. In Vikings one can replay any saga or make up one's own. There is even a mythic campaign theme in which Loki escape's and threatens to bring about Ragnorak before its time. In Traveller Sword Worlds there is 100 Parsecs which is about the journey of a group of Sword Worlders to set up a new civilization in which the Sword Worlder way of life may be preserved far in the reaches of the universe. One can also do the original founding of the Sword Worlds which is an intensely powerful theme. Intersteller Wars is in a way a "national epic" of the Terran Confederation. In fact some Gurps ideas are so good that it is a tragedy that they were never taken in hand by a writer worthy of them. Hopefully one is waiting.
  • Exalted is epic in a modern, bastardized meaning— but it can also be played as a classical Epic. It can be personal, following a Solar and his close friends. It can be national, following a Threshold nation guided by various Lunars who are in a master-apprentice chain. It can be generational, following a lineage of the Dragon-Blooded as they fight various enemies of Creation.
  • Warhammer 40,000
  • Werewolf: The Apocalypse : A twist on the classic werewolf myth, wherein the titular monsters are actually Holy Warriors of Mother Earth fighting to make the world a kinder and gentler place.



    Video Games 

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 


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