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In General:

  • Broken Base:
    • "Book/Comic Conan" vs. "Movie Conan". Or rather fans of the latter who use it as their baseline for everything Conan vs. those who are at least aware of the stories. The Shallow Parodies more about Arnold than Conan don't help.
    • Robert E. Howard vs. other Conan authors.
    • In particular, the influence of L. Sprague de Camp on the Conan mythos. True-blue Howard fans tend to dislike de Camp's writing and and interpretation of the character, often condescending to Howard's; some trace everything they dislike about how Conan is known in pop culture to de Camp's influence. On the other hand, if it weren't for de Camp and Lin Carter publishing the Ace paperback version of the stories, the character and Howard himself might have disappeared down the memory hole.
      • Notably, de Camp took to editing Howard's work, both to tone down the sex and violence and to de-purple some of Howard's prose. While de Camp got the same information across, Howard's writing style has a visceralness to it that lends the stories a unique quality, though some might see it as pretentious and overly-dense.
      • Aside from the above, de Camp also did the first biography of Howard himself, Dark Valley Destiny, portraying him as a suicidal nutcase with mommy issues. This didn't endear him to Howard fans who considered it as unfair armchair psychiatry, on top of getting a feeling of condescension from de Camp's introductions and editor's notes in the Conan books. While Dark Valley Destiny has colored Conan and Howard discussion for decades, more balanced biographies have since appeared.
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  • Complete Monster: See here.
  • Dork Age: As well as the example in the Aborted Arc section, there was the "Young Conan Saga" in The '90s. It wasn't bad, as much as it was really at odds with established canon and characterisation. The fans hated it so much, the story had to be wrapped up with an Author's Saving Throw that hinted the whole thing was an older Conan telling a "Shaggy Dog" Story.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Thoth-Amon. While a minor character who never met Conan face to face, possessing a number of redeeming traits despite being a villain made him extremely popular, so much so that any adaptions feature him as the Big Bad or an Expy of him.
  • Fair for Its Day: While many of his female characters were stereotypical cringing females waiting to be rescued Howard also wrote some surprisingly strong female characters: Bêlit, Valeria and the Devi of Vendhya. It's highly debatable how much the cringing, fearful damsels were solely in the name of making the stories more marketable, and if he would have preferred all the female characters be as capable and memorable as Bêlit, Valeria, and the Devi of Vendhya (though nearly all of them have enough character focus to have redeeming and memorable personality traits). His treatment of non-whites is more disjointed and complex. On the one hand is the revoltingly racist "The Vale of Lost Women" (though it's worth noting Howard apparently shelved it after one draft and never submitted it for publication; whether the constant, overt racism was too much even for him is open for debate). On the other hand Conan is surprised to find in "Queen of the Black Coast" that his black crewmen, who he had expected to panic and run, had fought and taken a toll on the werehyenas. The black guardsman who seeks to kill, and inadvertently frees, Conan in "The Scarlet Citadel" is given a sympathetic treatment. Yes, he wanted Conan dead but for a perfectly acceptable reason - in Conan's pirate days as 'Amra the Lion', Conan had burned his village and killed his brother.
    • While Howard's most famous Conan villain, Thoth-Amon, was non-white and extremely wicked, he had several noble qualities; he was brave, strong, intelligent, and genuinely cared for the advancement of his people (a quality Conan wouldn't acquire until he took Aquilonia's throne). In "Queen of the Black Coast," the Shemite Bêlit is described as being so mesmerized by the beauty of the treasure she and Conan find that it ultimately leads to her death. This is portrayed less as a Greedy Jew and more as an aesthetic fascination akin to what you might expect from Dwarves. "The Shemite soul finds a bright drunkenness in riches and material splendor, and the sight of this treasure might have shaken the soul of a sated emperor of Shushan." And Bêlit is a sympathetic, heroic (well, as "heroic" as anyone gets in a Conan story) character, who makes good on her promise to aid Conan from the afterlife.
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  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The essay "The Hyborian Age" states that the red-headed Vanir conquered Stygia and built the vast empire of Egypt with the early pharaohs being descended from them. This is before the discovery that Ramses II was red-haired.
  • Ho Yay: The scene in "The Pool of the Black One" where the Black Ones capture a handsome young pirate and force him to dance to a hypnotic flute is described in rather homoerotic terms.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: Many who bought the original books had no interest in reading them at all. They bought them for the lush, power paintings that served as the book covers. Courtesy of Frank Frazetta himself.
  • Les Yay: Numerous examples, generally on the part of villainous or 'depraved' characters.
    • The Valley of the Lost Women features strange women capturing and kissing the female lead in order to paralyse her.
    • Also a little between the Jenna and Zula in the second movie.
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    • In Red Nails, Valeria assumes that Queen Tascela wants to drug her in order to have her way with her. She actually just want to suck her soul in order to keep her youth. There's also a scene in which Valeria whips the slave girl who tried to drug her.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Most sorcery requires you to cross one of these before you even begin. One example being magics which need candles made from the bodies of virgins strangled with their mother's hair and their virginity taken after their death by their father.
  • Narm: At the end of The Scarlet Citadel, Conan decapitates a necromancer. Another sorceror, in the form of an eagle, swoops down, grabs the severed head, and flies off, laughing madly. The decapitated corpse then gets up, and staggers off in (classic, slow zombie-style) persuit. Apparently, this is supposed to be utterly horrifying.
  • Only the Creator Does It Right: To a visible portion of the fanbase, the only true Conan is Howard's Conan. Anything else is referred to as "Conantics" or "pastiches," and Internet Backdraft will ensue if you admit to actually liking anything by Carter or de Camp.
  • Tearjerker: Surprisingly quite a few. In Queen of the Black Coast there's the funeral pyre Conan gives Belit: and in The People of the Black Circle the opening scene where Prince Bhunda Chand, stricken by a terrible curse, commands his sister to kill him.
  • Values Dissonance: The vast majority of the characters are not meant to be moral even by the standards of the 1920s. However, there are a number of instances - the treatment of women and the veiled horror at "mingled races" among them - that may grate. Howard's plucked-from-history world building method also naturally led to racial stereotypes - just try to find an honest Zingaran, a gentle Pict or an atheist Stygian. But see also Fair for Its Day.

In the Comics:

  • Dork Age: When you've had comics going back nearly fifty years, you're bound to have a few of these.
    • Brian Wood's take on Queen of the Black Coast from the Dark Horse adaptation is considered one, since it not only ignores Robert E Howard's tales, but the comic's own continuity as well, such as portraying Conan as unseasoned when he was already a skilled warrior and pirate by that point. That it seems to go out of it's way to AVOID having pirate adventures is seen as a problem too.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: In the letters page of Marvel's Conan the Barbarian #267, a reader asks for back issues of the title, and expresses regret that the title was cancelled. The editor points out that a) Marvel doesn't directly give out back issues and b) the title's clearly still going. That title was cancelled by #275.
  • Iron Woobie: Kalanthes in the Dark Horse version.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: The Sons of the White Wolf from The Savage Sword of Conan #37 depicts an Eastern desert army of reavers emerging from a war between nations that seek to re-establish the "good old days" by ravaging everything on their path and its infamously repressive towards women. This group bears several uncanny similarities to terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS, but what is more striking is that this issue was written in 1979.
  • Moral Event Horizon: A number of characters cross it.
    • In Dark Horse's continuity Thoth-Amon finally shows that he's irredeemable by callously brushing off the death of his beloved sister in a plague HE Caused.
  • TearJerker: In the Dark Horse comics there's Conan's failing to save Iasmini and the Aesir from the "Day of Farewell" and Nestor's death.


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