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The Epic

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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 the 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 criteria:
The Epic is

  • 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 and...
  • ...The story overall contains majestic themes (such as good versus evil) that typically represent the values of a culture or a nation.

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.
  • 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)

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

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

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

Classical Epics

  • The Mahabharata, the Indian national epic, focusing primarily but not exclusively on the feud between the Pandava and Kaurava princes that ultimately leads to the great Kurukshetra War and its aftermath.
  • Nibelungenlied: Medieval German epic loosely adapted from the Volsungasaga concerning the hero Siegfried, his relationships, and his legacy.
  • Ramayana: The other great Indian epic, the story of The Wise Prince who is banished from his home, goes on a great journey, confronts a demonic emperor to rescue his wife, and realizes his destiny as the avatar of Vishnu.
  • Romance of the Three Kingdoms, the great Chinese historical epic about the Three Kingdoms period following the fall of the Han Dynasty and the battle to reunify the land.
  • The Shahnameh, the Iranian national epic, concerned with the mythical history of the Persian kings from primordial times to the Islamic conquest.
  • The Thebaid: An epic poem about the war between the sons of Oedipus.
  • The Trojan Cycle

Modern epics:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • 20th Century Boys: Spanning several decades and told in Anachronic Order, a group of everymen accidentally create—then attempt to stop a dangerous cult from spreading a plague and taking over the world.
  • Attack on Titan: A company of brave soldiers fights 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.
  • 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 who sees spirits is given the power of a shinigami, and uses it to aid an otherworldly organization of shinigami swordsmen dedicated to cleansing souls of evil and helping them pass on to the afterlife. Starts off as a Monster of the Week Urban Fantasy series, before shifting to a High Fantasy story involving different factions of the Soul Society and the large-scale conflicts and wars fought between them.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Series:
    • 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.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Original: Two disfigured brothers search for a way to undo their mistakes of the past, only to be engulfed in a massive political conspiracy.
    • 2003 anime: 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 the discovery of an Alternate Universe.
  • 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.
  • Gundam: A long-running Space Opera franchise made up of some standalone series, as well as one single continuity thats been running since 1979. Both involve interplanetary wars fought between different factions of mankind using Mobile Suits.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam: After the destruction of his hometown, a teenage boy and his friends are drafted into a war between two factions, the Earth Federation and the Principality of Zeon, in which he fights for the former by piloting the Gundam, a legendary Mobile Suit built by his father. Famous and influential for it's darker take on giant robots and it's anti-war themes.
  • 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.
  • Hoshin Engi: A young Doshi on a quest to defeat and seal rogue Sennin in the human world and in doing so, gets involved in a plot that could change the fate of the entire planet.
  • 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 the 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.
  • 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.
  • My-HiME: A deconstruction that analyzes what happens when the once-perfect Magical Girl is burdened with the tragic-flaws of mythic heroes.
  • Naruto: A young ninja strives for greatness, and in the process is embroiled in a conflict that will decide the fate of the world.
    • And the sequel, Boruto follow the adventures of Naruto's son, Boruto, and in the process, he too is going to be embroiled in a conflict that will decide the fate of the world because the threat was not truly destroyed last time his father did it.
  • 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...
  • 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. Spans over 100 volumes and 1000 chapters/episodes.
  • 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.
  • Ranking of Kings: A Young prince with a small and comparatively weak body to that of hardened warriors, coupled with hearing and speech disabilities, faces the struggle of trying to convince himself and others around him that he can become a great King like his father; Prince Boji goes through a arduous journey to rally supporters to his dream as he tries to overcome his weaknesses by finding other methods of strength beyond his physical limitations.
  • 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 violently overthrow the current government.
  • Soul Eater: Three masters and their shape-shifting human weapons fight the ultimate embodiment of madness
  • 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.
  • Vinland Saga: The story of a young Viking hell-bent on revenge for his fathers murder, until he stands before nothing.
  • 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.
  • YuYu Hakusho: A juvenile delinquent dies, then gets brought back from the dead to help the spirit world solve paranormal mysteries and defeat powerful demons.

    Comic Books 
  • The Sandman (1989) is a long mythological epic chronicling the lives of The Endless, a family of elder beings, and the numerous lives they touch over the course of history
  • Lucifer is a Heroic Epic tragedy, continuing the depiction of Lucifer from The Sandman (1989) and Paradise Lost, telling of the rise and fall of Lucifer Morningstar as he attempts to build his own Creation and free himself from God.
  • Crisis on Infinite Earths: The original Crisis Crossover and the story that changed The DCU forever. Two ancient beings from the dawn of time begin to war over the fate of The Multiverse, with the Monitor gathering every superhero in existence to prevent the eradication of all there is and ever was at the hands of his evil half, the Anti-Monitor.
    • Infinite Crisis: In the sequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths, numerous threats happening across the DC Universe have paved the way for a new threat to the multiverse... that being the return of the multiverse itself.
    • Final Crisis: The third installment of the "Crisis Trilogy" features Darkseid finally achieving his goal of discovering the Anti-Life Equation and imposing his will upon the entire universe, and the few heroes and villains left must band together to find a way to defeat him once and for all.
  • The Infinity Gauntlet: The Mad Titan Thanos has achieved ultimate power in service of Mistress Death, and the entire Marvel Universe, from superheroes and villains to cosmic entities, bands together to oppose him and stop the damage he has been inflicting upon the universe.
  • The Immortal Hulk: Bruce Banner discovers that he cannot die. What follows is a horrifying journey throughout the Marvel Universe with startling revelations about who and what the Hulk truly is, and forever redefining his mythos.
  • Watchmen: Alan Moore's ultimate Deconstruction of the superhero genre, a sociopolitical mystery spawned by the murder of a former superhero leads to old allies reuniting, questioning the morality of what they do, and uncovering a grand conspiracy that affects the entire world.
  • The Dark Phoenix Saga: One of the most famous and revered X-Men stories, where Jean Grey uncovers new phenomenal cosmic power and struggles to keep control over it, lest it consume her and become a major threat to the universe at large.

    Fan Works 
  • Austraeoh: Rainbow Dash flies east... for over three million words, far beyond the borders of Equestria, getting herself caught up in local troubles and thinking as little as possible about why.
  • Breath of the Wild, the first of The Myth of Link & Zelda: Survivors of the Calamity series: Link awakens from a deep slumber in a cave without a memory aside from his name, is guided outside by a spectral voice, and has the unique power of speed. He awakens into an apocalyptic world ravaged by the Eldritch Abomination of Calamity Ganon. He journeys across the vast kingdom of Hyrule, fighting foes and making friends, to find his own past. And once he does, he goes on a quest of combat to help Zelda defeat the calamitous apocalyptic entity once and for all. Has some familial elements because Princess Mipha is the mother of his child, Princess Lochlia, and there are times when both characters fight alongside Link.
  • Child of the Storm: It turns out that James Potter was originally Thor Odinson, on his first run at the humility thing. His son, Harry, finds out about this in his Third Year at Hogwarts, and spends the rest of the school year (and over 820,000 words) adjusting to the new enemies, abilities, and relatives both biological and adoptive that come with it. The sequel, Ghosts of the Past, is now an example of this trope in its own right, ending up over a million words long before the author finally decided to cut the back half of the plot off and post it as a separate story, The Phoenix and the Serpent.
  • Code Prime (crossover with Code Geass and Transformers): Takes the existing conflict of Code Geass and merges it with the Great War between the heroic Autobots and villainous Decepticons, one that spans the entire galaxy. Together, the many Autobots and Black nights strike to liberate the Earth from the tyranny of The Empire which is later taken over by the Decepticons.
  • Dear Diary: Two opposed gods awaken and use two chosen ones as their tools of a war that will rock the region, leading to a multi-faction civil war, as the Pokémon belonging to one of said chosen ones, who doesn't have the best intentions for the world, joining him on his long journey throughout the region try desperately to defy fate and stop the calamity.
  • The Immortal Game: A grandiose war story featuring the main cast of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic becoming soldiers and generals, carrying out battles across Equestria and enduring personal struggles. Much musing is had on the nature of Gods and War, and the primary conflict is a Rage Against the Heavens from the new gods against the old.
  • Infinity Crisis: A Massive Multiplayer Crossover of gigantic proportions involving not just the Arrowverse, the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universe but over 54 individual franchises from different genres ranging from superhero to comedy and horror. The story and its subsequent spinoffs focus on multiple teams of heroes working to reverse Thanos' Snap.
  • The New Adventures of Invader Zim, an ongoing fan-made sequel series to Invader Zim. As of now it consists of one complete "season" which is more than 240,000 words long, with a second season started and more planned to come.
  • A New Hope (Danganronpa), which is basically Danganronpa if it was an epic. A New Hope is basically an emulation of Trigger Happy Havoc and its setting, but with a larger cast of characters sidelined by an ongoing battle between the Future Foundation and Ultimate Despair, followed by a series of Killing Games that take place in farther regions (space, the moon, an amusement park, a secret island filled with monsters, a train, a desert, and supposedly be followed by an underwater city). Though each of the sagas has different protagonists, the scale of the Killing Games creates a bigger world within the facets of the franchise.
  • The Night Unfurls is a War Fic that concerns Eostia, a workable, but flawed country dealing with a Military Coup started by its most renowned mercenary group, the Black Dogs. Escalating into warfare, a group of heroes that fight for the country, Kyril especially, strive to achieve victory against the Black Dogs, not only via the battlefield, but also via rooting out their supporters within the country. In addition, the fanfic is a Continuation Fic of Bloodborne's "Childhood's Beginning" ending, which details Kyril's next Hunt. Extraordinary deeds aside, he has been to some sort of Underworld / Hell prior to the events of this story(the Hunter's Nightmare).
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Silver Resistance, an on-going, 600,000 word PMD story about a former human and Pokemon partner's quest to take down an all-supreme master that rules the land. Considered to be one of the most well-known PMD fanfics.
  • Purple Days: Joffrey Baratheon dies to the Strangler at his wedding. After an interminable moment of agony, he wakes up three days after Jon Arryn's death. And thus begins the quest to turn the Ax-Crazy Royal Brat into the savior king Westeros needs.
  • The Subspace Emissary's Worlds Conquest, a ludicrously long story about two warriors and their quest to stop an ancient evil from destroying the world.
  • Super Mario World (Max Landis) is 436 pages and 7 hours long and has detailed descriptions of just about everything and everyone, with war on a multi-realm scale and requiring aid from nearly every heroic and villainous faction.
  • A Thing of Vikings: At over 140 chapters over 4 books so far, this story follows Hiccup of Berk and how his and his tribe's domestication of dragons changes the course of history and the entire world.

    Films — Animated 
  • Finding Nemo: On the surface, a Road Trip Plot Buddy Picture starring talking fish, this Pixar hit fits surprisingly well into the structure of the Homeric Journey, as Marlin encounters allies, misleads, thresholds and guardians and even trips to the literal-underworld of his ocean world on his grand journey to find his son, and discover himself.
  • Hercules: Upon learning he's the son of Zeus, a young demigod embarks on a quest to train and become a hero worthy of a place on Mount Olympus, while Hades, the ruler of the Underworld, plots against him. A much Lighter and Softer, loose adaptation of the myth of Herakles.
  • How to Train Your Dragon: A timid yet smart young Viking befriends a legendary dragon, forming a bond that turns his clans' mortal enemies into their greatest allies.
  • Kung Fu Panda: The adventures of an unlikely hero destined to join a team of legendary kung-fu warriors and face some of the greatest threats in China.
  • Moana: The future ruler of an island nation with a strange mystical connection to the ocean sets off across the sea, fighting off various mythical beings, befriending others, and journeying to the Realm of Monsters, in order to avert an apocalypse by restoring a goddess' heart.
  • Space Jam: A New Legacy is surprisingly epic in scope for a Looney Tunes/basketball movie, featuring LeBron James traveling across the worlds of the entire Warner Bros. library to save his son.
  • The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, for a film starring SpongeBob features the title sponge confronting King Neptune, encountering a cyclops, and deciding the fate of his home. The tone and homages make this a "mock epic" of sorts.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Alien: The struggle of everyman heroes in the distant future to stop the eradication of humanity at the claws of parasitic Freudian bioweapons created by an uncaring race of godlike "Engineers."
  • Avatar: a human soldier is granted control of an alien body to in order to learn their culture, but decides to take up the aliens' cause against human colonialist ambitions.
  • DC Extended Universe: Zack Snyder's Myth Arc about Superman leading up to the formation of the Justice League and them encountering the New Gods qualifies with its scope and the sheer length of the movies — Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Zack Snyder's Justice League (the latter being extra epic due to its four hour runtime). Said arc is unfinished however, as Warner Bros. scrapped the two planned Justice League sequels.
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy: Three-film adaptation of the Batman franchise, intended as a modern, realistic update of the title character's quest to save Gotham City from crime and corruption.
  • Dollars Trilogy: A Spaghetti Western saga chronicling the adventures of the mysterious Man With No Name, a cynical murderer for hire wandering across the amoral and blood-soaked wastes, who nevertheless brings justice to this savage desert through his cunning, cruel sense of honor and his lightning-fast revolver. A brutal Deconstructor Fleet that thoroughly shatters the black-and-white romanticism of The Wild West of Hollywood.
  • The Fast and the Furious series: Starting out as a humble low-budget street racing series, the series rapidly escalates from Fast Five onward into a Heist-Movie Family Saga of a band of Badass Driver ex-cons turned secret-agents that take on world-threatening terrorists, all the while performing progressively astounding feats of driving that would put James Bond to shame.
  • Forrest Gump: A ludicrously lucky Idiot Hero blunders through 30 years of American history, experiencing, participating in and even helping to shape key-historical-moments in the changing world of the Cold War with his Simplicity, Kindness and Optimism.
  • Gladiator: A general betrayed by a depraved emperor fights as a gladiator to save Rome from his tyranny.
  • Indiana Jones: An adventurous archaeologist opposes corrupt 20th century dictatorships (and one time, a bloodthirsty cult) seeking to use powerful artifacts for nefarious purposes.
  • Interstellar fits this to a T. There's even a journey to the underworld through a black hole.
  • Inception is also an epic in the classical sense. It even deals with a hero on The Homeward Journey. The in-media-res opening, the three adventures, a symbolic journey to the underworld in the last act: it's all there. Christopher Nolan seems to know The Epic like the back of his hand.
  • Kill Bill: An homage to Samurai films and Westerns, in which a Dark Action Girl wakes up from a four-year coma, and goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the people responsible. Long enough to be released in two parts.
  • Lawrence of Arabia: An eccentric Englishman leads the Arabs against the Ottomans during World War I in pursuit of fame, and glory, and a state the Arabs can call their own.
  • The Lord of the Rings: Adapted from Literature.
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe: A story of the world's greatest superheroes saving the day from evil in one 23-film long Myth Arc known as the Infinity Saga.
  • The Matrix: A computer programmer discovers that the world he lives in is a machine-generated simulation and that they are actually using humans as a power source, leading him to join a small group of rebels and take the fight to the machines.
  • Patton: A brilliant and egotistical general leads U.S. forces in World War II, helped by his great talent and hindered by his flaws.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean The misadventures of an eccentric drunken pirate captain on quest after quest for immortality while tackling eldritch and mystical forces during The Golden Age of Piracy.
  • Star Wars: The destiny of the galaxy is determined by the conflict between one mystic order representing good and another representing evil. Taken individually, the Prequel and Original trilogies are the epics of Anakin and Luke Skywalker, respectively. Taken as a whole, the series is a Familial epic of the Skywalker family. The various installments of the Expanded Universe shine a spotlight on the lives of numerous individuals throughout galactic history.

  • Avesta of Black and White: While the Shinza Bansho Series generally relishes in being as grand as possible with each entry trying to one-up the last, Avesta is perhaps the straightest yet with a huge universe spanning conflict of good vs evil following an unlikely group of heroes and their struggle against the seven Archdemons. And it is not just the conflicts that are grand, so are the effects the characters have and the reveals they face as the very structure of the world as they understand it is upended.
  • Baccano!: A group of alchemists are granted immortality, and after being betrayed by one of their own, they travel around the world in search of other immortals while leading a life of crime and encountering a large cast of violent and unusual criminals. The story spans several decades, but mostly takes place in America during the Prohibition era.
  • Battlefield Earth, a 1,000-page Doorstopper about Johnnie Goodboy Taylor, the leader of the human resistance on Earth that eventually destroys the Psycolo Empire.
  • Belisarius Series: Has the grand scale, larger than life characters, and numerous moments of an epic. Often interestingly enough has deconstructions, including the Lampshading of many familiar elements of epics.
  • Book of the New Sun: In a Feudal Future After the End, a young torturer goes on an epic (and Mind Screw-y) journey to eventually become the ruler of his people and the one who will usher in the next age of humanity.
  • The Broken Earth Trilogy: The tale of a woman's quest through a post-apocalyptic world to find her daughter, and becoming enmeshed in a war between immortal beings, with her actions on The Day of Reckoning having the power to destroy the world for good or stop the Vicious Cycle of apocalyptic events from ever happening again, leading her into a life-or-death conflict with that same daughter.
  • A Certain Magical Index: An amnesic young delinquent, armed with nothing but courage, kindness and a mean right-jab that can nullify all magic, takes on a Machiavellian power struggle between the forces of Science and Magic that threatens to plunge The World into open-war.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: Seven books from the creation of Narnia to its end, with the Pevensie children as the most important characters.
  • The Cosmere
  • The Dark Tower : The final stretch of a lone gunman's lifelong quest across time and space to reach the greatest MacGuffin of all time.
  • Deltora Quest: A city boy, a retired palace guard, and a wild girl quest to reunite the magical gems that will give the lost heir to the throne the power to expel the evil Shadow Lord.
  • The Dune Chronicles: After two noble houses clash over the desert planet Arrakis, the heir of one of those houses rises to become a messianic figure whose life will reshape the Imperium — and throw the known universe into chaos. Subsequent books continue with the story of his downfall and ultimate legacy.
  • Earth's Children: Six books, most of which are Doorstoppers, following the life and adventures of Ayla, a woman living in Ice Age Europe who helps change the course of many lives and potentially all of human history, following her from the age of five to about 26 and involving long and perilous journeys.
  • The Far Pavilions: The 1,000 page masterpiece from British author M.M. Kaye is set in mid to late 1800's British Raj India and follows the life of Ashton Pelham-Martyn; a British man in the service of the Raj who was raised as an Indian in his childhood, only to discover his British ancestry at the age of 12. Ashton struggles with his imbalance of self and his torn loyalities; not to mention his love of the beautiful Anjuli, an Indian princess.
  • Foundation Series: A galactic-scale Space Opera, taking place over hundreds of years, and Canon Welding causing the history of The 'Verse to stretch over tens of thousands of years. Dr Asimov's Robot Novels depict humanity's mastery of Earth, creating Faster-Than-Light Travel, and spreading out into the galaxy. The Empire Novels depict the transformation of the galaxy into a single Hegemonic Empire. Then it ends with Foundation describing the grand collapse of that galaxy-wide civilization, and transitioning to a second galactic empire. Foundation is essentially a science fiction remake of Edward Gibbon's The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire.
  • Harry Potter, the 7th book especially. A young boy discovers that he is a wizard and undergoes seven years of magical education and coming of age, in the process learning that he may be the only one who can save the world from a would-be Evil Overlord.
  • High School D×D: A Loveable Sex Maniac gets reincarnated as a devil after having been murdered on his first date, and gets thrown into a three-way conflict between Angels, Fallen Angels, and Devils, and countless other mythologies butt in, all the while he tries to become the Harem King.
  • The Lord of the Rings: Long enough to fill three volumes, it's about four hobbits and their companions, who do important deeds in Moria, Fangorn, Rohan, and elsewhere, in their quest to destroy the One Ring.
  • Malazan Book of the Fallen: Sprawling High Fantasy saga with multiple Rotating Arcs concerning many characters on multiple continents, ultimately converging into the story of an alien god who has become trapped in the world, the conflicts set in motion by his attempts to escape, and the powerful forces that seek to control him.
  • The Memory Wars, by Paul Anthony Shortt, features a protagonist who has been reincarnated throughout history, seeing the Fall of Troy, the old west, and eventually leading the people of New York against an army of gods and demons to save the world.
  • Les Misérables, the classic Victor Hugo epic about Jean Valjean, a minor criminal who becomes a good man.
  • Musashi: one of the greatest epics in the history of Japanese literature, this novel tells how the legend of Miyamoto Musashi, the greatest swordsman ever in Japan, was forged.
  • The New Jedi Order: Nineteen books, five years of in-universe time, and a borderline-apocalyptic war that shakes the galaxy to its foundations. It's the largest and most sweeping of any of the multi-book or comic arcs in Star Wars Legends, and its scope is unmatched by anything in the entire Star Wars 'verse with the possible exception of the Skywalker Saga.
  • Old Kingdom: Generational Epic focusing on a special family of "reverse-necromancers" who are tasked with protecting the living world from the Dead and other malign forces.
  • Paradise Lost: A deliberate throwback to classical epics, concerning the fall of Satan, the War in Heaven, and the Fall of Man, largely told from the perspective of Satan.
  • Quest for Fire: Three paleolithic warriors set out to find fire after their own fire is destroyed in a raid.
  • Red Rising: A slave in a Colonized Solar System is recruited by La Résistance to infiltrate the Decadent Court of their civilization's elite ruling class and bring the oppressive Fantastic Caste System down from the inside.
  • The Riordanverse modernizes the mythological epics of old and tells new stories with the Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Norse gods, their followers and their enemies in a large interconnected universe.
  • The Song of Hiawatha: Longfellow's major story about the Ojibwe hero Manabozho (here renamed after a historical Iroquois leader) is considered a national epic of the United States, and one of few that measures up to the classics.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: After the king's death, a kingdom falls into a civil war between multiple parties, while the last heir of the deposed former dynasty seeks to regain power and an inhuman threat approaches from the north.
  • Sorcery!: A Fighting Fantasy gamebook miniseries that can be played individually or as a whole, chronicling the epic journey across the treacherous continent of Khakabad of your Wizard Hero to rescue the fabled Crown of Kings from the clutches of the Archmage of Mampang.
  • Sword Art Online: A boy and a girl enter the world's first virtual reality massive multiplayer online role-playing game, only to discover that when you die in the game, you die in the real world too. As they work to clear the game, they fall in love, and their adventures continue in several subsequent virtual realities.
  • The Stand: The trials and tribulations of a number of Action Survivors journeying across America after the world ends.
  • Technic History: A Space Opera based on a Framing Story that is a history that spans ages and focuses on the history of several intersteller civilizations, primarily the rise and fall of the Polesotechnic League and the Terran Empire. Contains numerous short stories, as well as a few novel length tales one or two of which would qualify as epics in their own right.
  • Tolkien's Legendarium: Collective term for the Middle-earth mythos including The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion which between them covery milennia of history and the strife between the Free Peoples of Arda and the Dark Lords Morgoth and Sauron.
  • Victoria: A Novel of 4th Generation War chronicles the future downfall of the United States, and the struggles of a disgraced officer and his small band of companions first to survive, and then to rebuild some of the former glories of America out of the ashes.
  • The Viking: The life of Ogier the Dane from his days as a slave of Ragnar Lothbrok to his days as a leader of the Great Danish Army.
  • War and Peace: A Genre Deconstruction of the typical epic. It's a long, sweeping story about war and the fate of nations, but emphasizes that the traditional genre idea of great heroes whose individual actions change the world dramatically isn't how things happen in real life, with those who think they are such heroes, rather than tools of a complex and unknowable fate and sweep up history, being ultimately pathetic people who pride themselves on their cruelty.
  • Way of Choices is a massive story (1251 chapters) about a young man's quest to defy his fated death at the age of nineteen. Over the course of which he battles demons and dragons, fights in tournaments and wars, defeats impossible challenges, and achieves enlightenment.
  • The Wheel of Time : The classic tale of an ordinary hero chosen by fate to combat a great evil, taken to its natural extreme.
  • The Winds of War/War and Remembrance (they are a two-volume set) by Herman Wouk. Someone or other said it was the World War II version of War and Peace.

    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.

    Tabletop Games 
  • GURPS has a number of potential epics for the Game Master to work within 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 escapes 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Theme Parks 
  • Walt Disney World's The Hall of Presidents attraction is an American national epic that narrates the achievements of American presidents throughout the history of the United States of America.

    Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed: A Historical Fiction Sci-Fi Conspiracy Thriller about an ancient conflict between two secret societies fighting over the fate of humanity spanning over ten thousand years of history with two parallel but distinct storylines (one set in the past and the other set in the present), multiple protagonists, a revolving cast of characters (both historical and fictional) and the presence of powerful artifacts known as the Pieces of Eden created by a long-deceased civilization known as the Isu.
  • Baldur's Gate follows a young protagonist whose sheltered life is disturbed by circumstances beyond their control, only to discover they are the child of a dead god of murder and find themselves hunted by many powerful foes as a result of their status.
  • Modern Warfare: It may not look like it on paper, but the entire series spans, including the playable flashback missions, over 15 years, 4 continents, 8 playable characters, and a conflict culminating in World War III.
  • Demon Legacy: An incident causes a young man to take part in an event that decides to change the fate of mankind.
    • Phantom Legacy: Sequel to Demon Legacy. The fate of mankind is at stake once again.
  • The Dragon Age series follows a large number of (mostly) heroic individuals who, while unrelated, frequently team up and have, over the course of 45 in-universe years that the series covers so far, thwarted at least two end-of-the-world scenarios, started and ended multiple wars, and prevented uncountable smaller catastrophes. The series is also epic in geographical scope, covering a good chunk of the known world, including a massive empire and multiple smaller kingdoms.
  • Final Fantasy XIV is unique among MMORPGs in part thanks to its stories, with players assuming the mantle of the Warrior of Light as they, along with the Scions of the Seventh Dawn, fight to save the planet of Hydaelyn from destruction. The base game and each expansion focus on exploits in different regions to accomplish this end, starting with thwarting The Empire's machinations in the continent of Eorzea before moving on to resolving the Dragonsong War in Ishgard, liberating the occupied nations of Doma and Ala Mhigo, and travelling through The Multiverse to prevent the total annihilation of multiple worlds, with the 2021 expansion, Endwalker, serving as the Grand Finale of an epic tale over ten real-world years in the making.
  • The Front Mission series takes place over the course of 50 years and spans the entirety of the globe by the end of Front Mission 5, showing many different conflicts and conspiracies that take place between the Earth's superpowers in the late 21st and early 22nd centuries.
  • God of War Series: Maddened by guilt and grief, Sparta's Greatest Warrior single-handedly and literally tears the entire Mythological Greece and all its Gods apart with the cataclysmic volcanic fury of his megalomaniacal and inconsolable rage. After exiling himself to Iceland to escape the shame of this apocalyptic atrocity, he slowly learns to redeem his legacy to one of hope and kidness through the love of his son and his newfound friends in the realm of the Norse Gods.
  • Homeworld. It has the appearance of Lensman-inspired Science Fiction Space Opera, but has the feels of Mythical High Fantasy Epic in terms of narration.
  • Kingdom Hearts: The increasingly complex tale of Sora, a boy who leaves his island home to travel the Disney and Square Enix Worlds to stop The Heartless from consuming them all in darkness with his ancient weapon, the Keyblade.
  • Mass Effect: The Trilogy as a whole is considered one massive epic, where a Space Marine leads a team of humans and aliens on a mission to save the galaxy from a mysterious, ancient, and devastating threat. It also has loads of sidequests and content that create a vast, living galaxy full of different species and cultures, each with their own traits.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic: Consisting of eight separate class stories, years worth of expansion and endgame content, and thousands of voiceovers recorded, the scope of the game is massive.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2: A young protagonist is forced to leave their quiet village after it is attacked, and are thrust into conflict with an ancient evil that threatens to drain the land of all life.
    • Its expansion, Mask of the Betrayer, follows the same protagonist. After defeating the aforementioned evil, they are whisked away to a distant land and inflicted with a supernatural curse that forces them to devour souls or die horribly. In their efforts to rid themselves of the curse, they discover that its true nature is far more than meets the eye.
  • Oracle of Tao. It qualifies as a Generational Saga, tracing back from Ambrosia's mother (mainly in flashbacks), to her quest, to her daughter's quest with her.
  • Shin Megami Tensei
    • Persona 5: A high school student wrongfully put on probation is given the supernatural power to change the hearts of corrupt individuals and make them confess their crimes. Forming a group known as the Phantom Thieves, he sets out on a mission to change society by exposing the evil deeds of certain powerful figures to the public, which escalates into a nationwide conflict and makes him and his friends the most wanted criminals in all of Japan.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: While the Genesis games showed trappings of an epic Shonen story being told, Adventure was where the trend of dramatic narratives, huge set pieces, and ensemble casts took the franchise into a larger direction from 1998 to 2009.
  • World of Warcraft: Heroes of a High Fantasy world belonging to two factions that fight each other and band together in the face of constant major threats to their world (with a new major threat per Expansion Pack).

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: The story of four Huntresses-in-training living in a fantastical world, going to school to learn to become heroes and fight monsters with their special weapons and powers, until circumstances force them into the middle of a centuries-spanning Secret War against the forces of darkness for the fate of the world.

    Web Comics 
  • MS Paint Adventures:
    • Problem Sleuth: A group of detectives find themselves locked up and trying to escape into the real world. While the webcomic begins as a small comedic adventure, it quickly turns into a conflict on a universal scale, where solving diplomatic conflicts of fantasy kingdoms, turning the universe upside down and playing Sudoku with Death itself are only small steps on the way to freedom.
    • Homestuck: After the destruction of their home worlds, several disparate groups of teenagers (eventually uniting into one) are trying to create a new world and stop the indestructible demon that prevents them from doing so. Along the way, they have many adventures, where any of their actions can change the future of the universes.
  • The Order of the Stick: Begins as a parody of Dungeons & Dragons but evolves into a humorous but straightforward story of a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits who find themselves thrust into the age-old Divine Conflict between the gods and the Snarl and must oppose various evil forces who seek to profit from said conflict in various ways.
  • Schlock Mercenary, where Schlock and Tagon's Toughs go from minor mercenaries to saving the galaxy... and back. And forth.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: In a world divided between the four classical elements, two siblings discover The Chosen One who has been missing for the past century; together, they have to go on a journey to end a century-long war and prevent a militaristic empire from conquering the world.
  • Samurai Jack: The beautifully-animated story of a lone samurai lost in time and Wandering the Earth, seeking a method to return to the past and destroy the ancient evil that has enslaved the world.