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YMMV / The Chronicles of Narnia

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Subjective tropes for the book series as a whole:

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Even though Edmund Pevensie is a jerkass Anti-Hero that does a Heel–Face Turn in the first book, his personality is quite ambiguous and hard to define in the rest of the books and especially the movie versions. While he is on the good side in the second and the third parts, many factors like his Deadpan Snarker tendencies and his dark thoughts that seem to be brought to surface in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader several times still reveal traces of his Anti-Hero mode. He's the only character who has a page specially dedicated to his personality.
    • Acts of Aslan that some readers have found questionable include refusing aid to an untrained child in a fight with a battle-hardened leader of the Queen's secret police, raking the back of another to punish her for drugging a slave to escape an arranged marriage, and mocking one of his followers for asking for healing. He may have an Omniscient Morality License, but as with all such characters, there will be people who disagree with this.
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    • Since Aslan is Jesus in a different form, some people blame Aslan for the train crash in "The Last Battle". Some blame Aslan either for not preventing it or causing it. Others point out there is no indicator Aslan caused it, Aslan merely took Peter, Edmund, Lucy, Digory and Polly at the moment of the crash so they could win the Narnian apocalypse for good and end up in Heaven without enduring the painful, deadly injuries the crash would've inflicted. It has been a pretty contentious discussion, let's leave it at that.
  • Angst? What Angst?: Especially in the first book, none of them seem to miss their parents while they're in Narnia, nor do they spare much thought about how much worry they're causing everyone who knows them on Earth. Fortunately, Narnia Time keeps this from actually being an issue — but they don't know that until they're home again, which for them isn't until years later. This is partially justified, though; if they spent all their time angsting over their family and the world they left behind, they wouldn't get much done.
    • For that matter, it is centuries in Narnia time before they get back, but Susan seems to be the only one at all sad that their friends and subjects are all dead.
    • Very few of the children that are sent to Narnia seem to show much reaction to killing other sophont beings for the first time.
  • Broken Base: Should the books be read in chronological order or in publication order? Somewhat annoyingly, C. S. Lewis's Word of God on the subject seems to go both ways, though ultimately coming down on "It probably doesn't matter that much."
    • What to do with Susan probably qualifies too.
      • Relate to above, whether what Aslan did is correct — which is made much worse once one realize Aslan stated by the Author to be a form of Jesus, meaning many incidents is a reflection of Christianity's worldview. Tread carefully.
  • "Common Knowledge": Despite the fact that it would be impossible for anyone who has read the books to miss the fact that Narnia is one country out of many in the other world, many people think that Narnia is the other world itself.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Out of the four siblings and main characters, it seems Edmund has fared quite a lot, compared to the others. This is probably due to the character's Anti-Hero status that he still kept even after his Heel–Face Turn.
    • Eustace Scrubb and Puddleglum are this too.
    • Reepicheep as well, being both a swashbuckling hero with panache and Narnia's equivalent to Elijah. Enhanced by the Prince Caspian movie, but present enough in the books that he's taken on Saint Peter's role as gatekeeper of Heaven in The Last Battle.
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  • Epileptic Trees: Scholar Michael Ward argues that there is a thematic link between the seven Narnia books and the seven major planets (see Lewis' other best-known work, The Space Trilogy).
  • Esoteric Happy Ending: The Last Battle. The children will live in Narnia forever, which is what they always wanted (Aslan's Country being Heaven), but it's still jarring to realize that, in our world, they're all dead. Neil Gaiman notably takes this into account in his fanfic "The Problem With Susan," wherein Susan confides to a girl interviewing her on her teaching career that she had to identify all the corpses of her friends and family in the aftermath.
  • Fair for Its Day: Lewis has taken a lot of flak in recent years for his Values Dissonance-laden statement in LWW that "battles are ugly when women fight." But other books do show that Susan and Lucy and Jill Pole are capable fighters and can hold their own in a battle. Consider that the U.S. Military didn't allow women in combat zones until the 1990s, and not in direct combat at all until 2013. Lewis's statement, written in 1950, merely refers to situations in which wars are so terrible and invasive upon the civilian population that women, who would only have been in the civilian (not military) population, are forced to fight for their lives. Replace the word "women" with "civilians" in your mind and it conveys more closely what Lewis actually meant but in a modern context.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: The books contain the lesson that the real world is a harsh and violent place that sometimes takes a fair amount of violence to survive in. C. S. Lewis was even quoted once as saying that pretending otherwise would do a great disservice to children. Once again, an example of a very true and important Aesop, but one that many parents would rather their children didn't know.
  • Fandom Rivalry: Reasonably friendly ones with the other big fantasy series such as The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. A somewhat less friendly one with His Dark Materials, which serves as a microcosm of the Christianity vs. Atheism.
  • Fanon: A large amount of fans believe that the Lady of the Green Kirtle from The Silver Chair is the same person as Jadis the White Witch. Much of this comes from a character sketch for Jadis in later editions of the books (which were not written by Lewis himself) that describes the character as "completely evil, even in The Silver Chair). For what it's worth, not much is known about the Green Lady's backstory and the only text in the book says that she was one of the "Northern Witches". Another part of the confusion comes from Barbara Kellerman playing both characters in the BBC adaptations of the books. This is ignoring the fact that several other actors doubled up and played multiple characters in different adaptations - and that Kellerman also played the hag in Prince Caspian.
  • Filler: The Horse and His Boy at first glance seems to have no effect on the overall plot of the series. However, it is the telling of the Cryptic Background Reference epic poem in The Silver Chair; it thoroughly establishes the Calormenes, a throwaway reference in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, as the Evil Empire; and it contains a chilling Foreshadowing of how the Calormenes will figure in The Last Battle: "On this venture you are to regard every drop of Narnian blood as more precious than a gallon of your own. On this venture, I say. The gods will send us a happier hour...."
  • Glurge: Susan losing all her loved ones in one train crash.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The name of the King of Narnia in "The Last Battle" is Tirian.
  • Incest Yay Shipping: Well, since the four main protagonists are was to be expected.
  • Mis-blamed: Some assume Susan was left out of Heaven due to pursuing "nylons, lipstick, and invitations", i.e. maturing, rather than the fact that she isn't dead yet. On the other hand, it should be noted that Jill's and Polly's (and by implication, Lewis's own) opinion was that Susan's notions of "maturity" were, in fact, immature and shallow, as Susan thought "growing up" meant going to parties and gossiping. Aslan makes it clear in Prince Caspian that growing up and actually maturing (even leaving Narnia behind for living on Earth) is a good thing. Word of God in a letter from Lewis to a worried reader was that Susan was still alive in England and 'might very well get back to Narnia in her own time and her own way'. Susan was meant to show how one could turn one's back on Grace. But once a King or Queen in Narnia, always a King or Queen. Given Lewis's personal history, it's probably safe to say that, to his mind, those who turn away from Aslan get the chance to turn back.
  • Offending the Creator's Own: Despite the series being consciously written as a child-friendly allegory of key Protestant Christian concepts, some hardline Protestant critics accuse it of being "pagan" and "occultist" because of its depiction of magic and because supernatural beings from Classical Mythology are depicted sympathetically as members of Narnia's population.
  • Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: Again, Lewis's critics accuse him of pulling this in his treatment of Susan compared to the other, largely more tomboyish female characters.
  • Tear Jerker:
    • Yes, it's all very wonderful for Peter, Edmund, Lucy, etc. that they get to go to heaven with Aslan and live forever in paradise. But Susan (ignoring any discussions on why) has just had her entire family, including her parents, killed in a horrific accident. May also double as Fridge Horror.
    • A meta-example is that Lewis wrote The Magician's Nephew in order to do, in fiction, something he was tragically unable to do in real life: save his mother.
    • Caspian and Rilian's reunion, as the former lies on his deathbed.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: There are a lot of fans who are very disappointed with how Susan is dismissed from the narrative at the end of The Last Battle and wish that Lewis had followed up on how it would affect her to have her sister, both brothers, and her cousin killed in the train crash. All Lewis ever said on the subject that we know of is a comment in a letter that she "might find her way into Aslan's Kingdom in the end."
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: Susan, infamously. While there is more going on with her absence from the ending of The Last Battle than simply an interest in makeup and parties, many readers feel that her failings are not as bad as Lewis intended, and that losing both of her parents and all three of her siblings in a train crash (and the fact that nothing in the book acknowledges how this will affect her) is a disproportionately cruel ending to give the character.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • Father Christmas' assertion in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe about how battles are ugly when women fight might come across as somewhat prejudiced to more modern readers - not that Lucy seems to care all that much in subsequent books. (And admittedly, with a somewhat more generous reading, combined with knowing Lewis' own history, it can be interpreted as a statement that "total war" is particularly ugly - since it perforce includes everyone, women included. Ol' Saint Nick and Lewis just chose their words poorly- or rather, he chose the words well, it's just that said phrasing has not aged well.)
    • Lewis' attack on secular education in the form of Experiment House may also come across this way to some readers. Though given the nature of the real-life experimental schools on which it was based, whose ideas proved unsuccessful, it's not so much the existence of the school itself as Lewis' particular criticisms of the same (such as mixed-sex education). Particularly, the treatment of bullying in-story is an inverted form of this, as any attempt to overlook bullies as "interesting psychological cases" allowed to butter up the headteacher would almost certainly have OFSTED descending on the school like a ton of bricks nowadays. It just goes to prove how radical the pre-1960s 20th century really was in ways we prefer to forget.
    • In general the series' overt portrayal of Christian themes has prompted something of a backlash in these more skeptical times, as an attempt to "push religion" in the form of popular children's literature. Conversely, whilst Lewis is usually well-regarded in modern evangelical circles, some more fundamentalist types equally object to aspects of Lewis' theology and pagan elements included in the Narnia stories. The poor man can't catch a break either way.
    • Calormenes are a Culture Chop Suey of "Middle Eastern" stereotypes who worship polytheistic Hindu-esque gods (whose main god, Tash, also doubles as the Satan figure to Aslan's Jesus), talk like characters from a flowery Arabic verse translation, and live in a joyless Ottoman-inspired empire whose real-world approach to government and economics is threatening to crush all the fairy-tale joy out of Narnia, all filtered through a British university professor in the tail-end of the Empire. They aren't meant to be completely unsympathetic, but there's no way anyone could get away with creating something like them today without a whole bunch of controversy.
    • The Professor's assertion, "Oh, you can make your minds easy about that. One has only to look at her and talk to her to see that she is not mad," comes across as uninformed about mental illness, especially the "looking part." However, during the time the work itself is set, it would have been an almost uncontested medical opinion that the insane had tell-tale or giveaway behaviors. Also, the Professor is implied to be something of an Omnidisciplinary Scientist, and the including of the conversational bit means that he is going off of more than just looks. Of course Digory Kirke has very good reason to know that Narnia is quite real.

Subjective tropes for the Walden Media film series as a whole:

  • Accidental Innuendo: Ending of the first film, anyone? When the four kids fall out of the wardrobe:
    Professor Kirke: What were you all doing in the wardrobe?
    Peter: You wouldn't believe us if we told you, sir.
    Professor Kirke: (weird grin) Try me.
  • Actor Shipping: All actors are shipped between them, but the most prominent ships are William Moseley/Anna Popplewell and Skandar Keynes/Georgie Henley (Willanna and Skangie), since the characters are related, even though that doesn't stop a lot of people shipping their characters.
  • Can't Un-Hear It: Liam Neeson as Aslan was such a perfect casting that it's nigh impossible to reread the books and not read Aslan in a deep, northern Irish-accented voice. Also, Tilda Swinton as Jadis the White Witch.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Edmund, surprisingly enough. A lot of fans love the darker, initial version of Edmund and ignore his Heel–Face Turn from the first part, still considering him a dark and edgy character. He is quite often portrayed as a snarky, witty bastard, sometimes to downright violent and unstable. That's why most fans prefer him in Fanfiction and especially romance fanfiction, where he's practically shipped with every existing character and numerous Ocs and Mary-Sues.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Among all the protagonists that appear in the seven books, Edmund has come out as the favourite so far, due to his Deadpan Snarker tendencies and his several Moments of Awesome during Prince Caspian. The actor became Tall, Dark, and Handsome, which combined with the snarkiness and the Heel–Face Turn from The Mole he was in the first film, it definitely makes him an Anti-Hero.
  • Foe Yay: Between Edmund and the White Witch, especially in the The Voyage of the Dawn Treader film. He's haunted by visions of her on and off throughout the journey, taunting him about how he's trying to prove his worth. It gets especially explicit when she repeatedly offers to make him "her king", and that she can make him a man. Some of the things she says are borderline Mind Rape, stating that she'll always be alive in his mind despite the fact she's died arguably twice now (the second time by Edmund's own hand). Considered Squick by some for obvious reasons.
  • Magnificent Bitch: Jadis. She's outplayed by Aslan however!
  • Memetic Molester:
    • Mr. Tumnus. He lures a little girl into a small dark cave, lulls her to sleep with a flute, and when she wakes up, he's crying and saying he's been doing something bad.
    • The White Witch. Wrapping Edmund in her fur with her, being all close, asking Edmund to come to her castle, and to bring his siblings too. Jeez lady, and to only up the creepiness with Edmund, in the third movie, constantly whispering almost seductively, "Edmund, I can make you my King... and much more."
    • And even Edmund has some accidental, several creepy moments of this towards Lucy, especially in the first part, where he clearly shows how much he enjoys tormenting her and following her in the dark just to scare her, and in the third part, where he glares darkly at her and actually tries to lure her into becoming the most powerful person in the world along with him.
  • Memetic Mutation: “Do not cite the deep magic to me, Witch! I was there when it was written!” Explanation 
  • Tear Jerker:
    • Without knowing he was going later be resurrected, Aslan's death scene in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The great, proud cat being bound and getting his mane hacked off, knowing he is sacrificing himself for love shows simply how realistic and emotionally well done the death scene was. The parallel too.
      • The BBC version, however, is a completely different story. The buildup is sad, but the death sequence is ruined by The White Witch's acting (and the...shall we say, less than stellar animation).
      • Athough it does provide Hilarious in Hindsight value when you compare the White Witch's potrayal throughout the entire BBC production with Xenia Onatopp's similar portrayal. Heck, you could even argue Xenia was inspired by the BBC White Witch!
    • And, precisely because you know what's coming, Peter and Susan's walk with Aslan near the end of Prince Caspian, and Peter's subsequent acknowledgement to the others that he would not be allowed to return to Narnia.
    • The final scene in Prince Caspian when the Pevensies leave. Throughout the movie you see the devastation the four of them have suffered at being ripped from Narnia and back into the normal world. And now they've finally come home again they have to leave. It's utterly heartbreaking and you realize that no matter what anyone says, or how old they grow, they're never going to recover from losing Narnia.
      • And when Lucy glances back, Narnia's just...gone.
      • And the music doesn't help either. The lyrics are simultaneously perfect and horribly bitter.
        "I'll come back...When you call me...No need to say goodbye...No need to say goodbye...
    • On a similar vein the end of the The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Lucy and Edmund just look at each other and at the painting, suddenly realizing that's it. No more adventures, no more Aslan, no more magic: they're trapped in the normal world forever.
    • The end result of storming the castle in the Prince Caspian film is absolutely devastating - particularly the moment in which Peter looks back through the portcullis at the trapped Narnians, and at least one voice is clearly heard calling for him to save himself.
      • You see the Narnians at the gate, all screaming and trying hopelessly to get out, and you know that each and every one of them is dead. And the look of anguish on Peter's face as he realizes the same thing, and there's nothing he can do about it...
      • Props also to the brave Minotaur who held the gate open for as long as he could, only to be shot and crushed under its weight—a Heroic Sacrifice which saved many of the heroes, made even more poignant when one remembers that Minotaurs were "evil" in the first movie.
    • Lucy's goodbye to Aslan in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Made especially more poignant, when you remember that Lucy was the first of those siblings to find Narnia.
      • Eustace's goodbye to Reepicheep. Considering the development their relationship has had throughout the movie, that scene was heartwrenching.
      • The simple line from Eustace's narration - "When the war ended and my cousins went home, I missed them"
  • Unpopular Popular Character: Edmund Pevensie is the biggest example. He's the black sheep of the family in the first book, The Unfavorite and the villainous sibling from the main four, as he betrays his siblings to the big evil and torments and bullies Lucy. He easily becomes most fans' favorite character by the end of the second book and movie. Of course his Heel–Face Turn helps.
  • What an Idiot!: Granted, Maugrim didn't think that Peter had it in him to kill, but that doesn't mean that jumping directly onto Peter's sword was a smart move.


Example of: