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Urban Fantasy

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Instead of Standard Hero Reward, the knight gets paid in stock options.

"I saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand,
Walking through the streets of Soho in the rain,
He was looking for the place called Lee Ho Fook's
Gonna get a big dish of beef chow mein."

Urban Fantasy, also sometimes called "Modern Fantasy", is a genre that combines common fantasy conventions with a modern setting. The name "Urban Fantasy" is sometimes taken to imply that all works in the genre must take place in a large city, but this is not the case. Rather, the name implies throwing fantasy elements into more modern, urban societies (hence its secondary name). Still, it's very common for Urban Fantasy stories to take place in a large, well-known city, all the easier for their fantasy elements to hide themselves in.

As a genre, Urban Fantasy is sometimes seen as more accessible to the average reader than the Medieval European Fantasy due to the Like Reality, Unless Noted nature of it, and the fact that modern settings are familiar to readers whereas the medieval era is something that modern readers may have trouble relating to. The exact cut off date for what falls under Urban Fantasy is fuzzy, as the works which most commonly get this label applied to them feature settings in the present day, but works taking place as far back as the Victorian Era are generally included. Works taking place more than ten to twenty years in the future however, are not.


Urban Fantasies almost always take place on Earth, rather than a Constructed World, or if not on Earth then in a place so close as to make little difference. Alternate History is common, incorporating Fantasy elements into real historical events, with humans living alongside magic, though if this isn't done there is usually a Masquerade, implying that witches, elves and fairies live alongside us, just in hiding and probably forming a complete Wainscot Society. In such stories, The Unmasqued World is a common plotline. Another common convention used in Urban Fantasy is to suggest that at one point the world resembled a Medieval European Fantasy but The Magic Goes Away, and in the present The Magic Comes Back and now humans have to adjust to it.

Urban Fantasy often crosses paths with a number of genres, including Alternate History, Cosmic Horror Story, Dungeon Punk, Gothic Punk, Horror, Magical Realism, New Weird, Paranormal Romance, Paranormal Investigation, Science Fantasy, Supernatural Fiction and Supernatural Thriller. Sometimes it's difficult to tell whether a work qualifies, but generally speaking Urban Fantasy is known for showing the impact of modern society on the fantasy elements included in it. Elves carry guns, witches use microwaves and Leprechauns work at the bank. It takes more than tossing in the odd vampire solely for the fear-factor to truly apply.


Or, more cynically, a work is Urban Fantasy if it has a half-naked woman on the cover, and Paranormal Romance if it has a half-naked man on the cover.

Gaslamp Fantasy, Supernatural Soap Opera and Historical Fantasy are notable subgenres. Urban Fantasy is itself a subgenre of Speculative Fiction, specifically Fantasy. Many works that throw mystery-genre elements into the mix also rate as Fantastic Noir. Most of the Vampire Fiction published in recent times falls under this genre, whereas in the past it followed the conventions of Horror. Urban Fantasy is often considered the fantasy equivalent of 20 Minutes into the Future.

If you want to know how to write an Urban Fantasy, please visit the Write an Urban Fantasy page.

If you want to see a list of common tropes of this genre, see Urban Fantasy Tropes.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 

    Asian Animation 

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 


    Film — Animation 

    Film — Live-Action 

    Light Novels 

This is technically one of the oldest genres in speculative fiction, predating the more strict separation of Science Fiction into a separate genre. Stoker's Dracula is probably the most well-remembered, but far from the last, example from the 1800s, positing an entire ecosystem of vampires and hunters alongside modern life.

    Live-Action TV 

    Other Media 

  • Pilgrim
  • The title character of Deacon was cursed with immortality by Voodoo gods and now protects lost people from threats from the spirit realm in Bristol. Not totally dissimilar to Pilgrim, and runs in the same Radio 4 slot.

    Tabletop Games 


    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 


Video Example(s):


The 10th Kingdom

Take just about every well-known Western Fairy Tale, myth, legend, oral history, and fantasy story known to man. Cross them with screwball comedy, an epic Hero's Journey, fantastic (for television, anyway) special effects, and a lot of surprising twists. Add a dash of tragedy and mystery, a sprinkling of some rather serious (or should we say, ''Grimm''?) issues, and some great British casting, and what do you get?

Not the Wicked Stepmother's potion, but the 2000 NBC miniseries The 10th Kingdom.

Virginia Lewis, a down-on-her-luck New York City waitress, and her ne'er-do-well janitor father Tony, are accidentally dragged out of their boring, miserable lives when they cross paths with a golden retriever (actually an enchanted prince) and an ex-convict werewolf (actually, half-wolf) — one fleeing his stepmother the Evil Queen, the other working for her (sometimes). Complications and hi-jinks result, as magic spills over into New York (the Tenth Kingdom of the title), and soon the foursome end up via magic mirror in the world of the Nine Kingdoms, where fairy tales are real but "Happy Ever After didn't last as long as we'd hoped." Pursued by vengeful Trolls and their odious father, and Rutger Hauer as a typically villainous but effectively chilling Huntsman, they must chase after the magic mirror and wend their way in and out of the lives of many fairy tale characters (always with a twist) in order to find their way home again.

Oh, and restore the prince to his throne, save the Kingdoms, learn a few valuable lessons, and discover some secrets that will resolve past tragedies. Something for everyone!

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

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Main / UrbanFantasy

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