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Cliches Writing Techniques

5 Cliches in Action Adventure Stories that Need to Stop

While I was growing up, my family watched a lot of adventure movies.

Indiana Jones, National Treasure, Robin Hood, Treasure Island…

If there was treasure involved, we probably watched it.

However, it got to the point where I would sit on the couch and laugh at all the cliches, until my family got irritated and told me to stop talking during the movie.

So, I figured it was time to write a blog post about it.

Here we go. 5 cliches in the action/adventure genre (with focus on treasure hunts) that need to stop.

season 7 episode 25 GIF by SpongeBob SquarePants
(Image courtesy of Giphy.com)

If any or all of these cliches are in your story, don’t be discouraged. You can decide what you want in your story. But be careful: too many of these cliches can make your story predictable.


5. The Dumb, Funny Sidekick

This sidekick character doesn’t have much experience with treasure hunting, OR they have so much experience that the audience wonders, “why aren’t they the main character?”

Dumb but lovable, this character is full of corny jokes and quips. So many quips, they could join the Guardians of the Galaxy.

guardians of the galaxy 2 laughing GIF
(Image courtesy of Giphy.com)

They always look up to the main character, with stars (or hearts) in their eyes, overcome with admiration.

In the end, the sidekick turns out to be smarter than everyone thought, and they help save the day.

I still like this cliche once in a while, but still. Why can’t the comic relief come from the main character? Or the villain?

Instead of the dumb, funny sidekick, try:

  • The super smart sidekick who wants to take over the main character’s role
  • The dumb sidekick who isn’t very likable
  • The serious sidekick working with a funny main character
  • The dumb sidekick who dies because they don’t have enough brains for this quest

4. KO’s

In most action stories, a single blow can knock out even the toughest of villains.

We were lied to.

Contrary to popular belief, not everybody can knock out the bad guys with one punch.

dead punch GIF by Angry Birds
(Image courtesy of @angrybirds on Giphy.com)

Of course, with training, it’s possible to learn how to knock someone out. But in a fight, if you don’t have the experience, it’s hard to get the first blow exactly right.

Plus, the one-hit knockout is super hard to pull off.

  • A blow that causes a concussion might not cause a KO. The character would be dizzy, but not unconscious.
  • There’s a super thin line between a KO and killing somebody.
  • If it’s a fistfight, the attacker should get hurt too. They might break a couple fingers.

(Information found at TVtropes.org)

However, if the character is strong and if they happen to knock out the enemy, here are some things to keep in mind.

  1. Most KO’s only last a few seconds tops.
    • Not enough time for the character to be taken somewhere else.
    • Not enough time for the other characters to finish the quest while the unconscious person lays on the floor.
  2. The only thing your characters should do after knocking someone out is to restrain that person. Tie their hands and feet. By that point, the character will be wide awake again.

3. I’m Not Your Friend Anymore

 betrayal democracy now this is really a shakespearean act of betrayal patrick cockburn GIF
(Image courtesy of Giphy.com)

So much betrayal.

It might be at the beginning of the story, like in National Treasure, or at the end, like Frodo in Return of the King.

At some point, the character ends up switching sides, to the dismay of everyone. And in a classic treasure hunt, one of the good guys turns into the villain.

How about a story with no betrayal? Or a story where the bad guys betray each other? It would be nice to have a story where the characters stick together.

2. Why Doesn’t the Government Care?

If there’s a huge amount of money or treasure involved, why is the government so chill about it?

Let’s say you find a buried treasure, and you decide to sell it to a museum. You’ve made money. Now the government is going to tax that income.

Money Finance GIF by Rooster Teeth
(Image courtesy of @roosterteeth on Giphy.com)

If you earn $1 million, the US Government would tax somewhere around 37%, which is $37,000. That’s a lot of money!

And if the government finds the treasure first, now they get to sell it and keep the million dollars.

Why would any government let this money slip through their fingers?

And yet, so many movies have the government stay in the background. They are an irritant, but nothing more.

The government should be getting involved in the treasure hunt. They should put everything they’ve got into finding the treasure and securing it. This isn’t something they would leave up to random citizens.

An easy way to fix this is to have the government be just as active as the bad guys. Or maybe the main character is a government agent, and the government is good.

Just keep in mind, this is money. Governments. Love. Money.

1. Cool Guys Don’t Look At Explosions

I don’t have to explain this one, I believe the original video by thelonelyisland says it all.

“Cool guys don’t look at explosions, they blow things up and then walk away,

Who’s got time to watch an explosion? Cause cool guys have errands that they have to walk to…”

~thelonelyisland

This usually happens in movies, but I’ve seen it happen in a few books too.

An explosion happens, and the guys walk away without a scratch. Usually, they walk away in slow motion, while the building explodes behind them.

iron man GIF
(Image courtesy of Giphy.com)

But there are a few problems with this trope.

Basically, whenever an explosion takes place, there’s a huge pulse as the explosion pushes the air outwards. It’s called the primary blast. Even if you don’t get burned by the explosion itself, this blast could injure your internal organs and kill you.

The blast would probably knock you over, or at least make you stumble.

Also, most people in their right minds would RUN AWAY from an explosion. They shouldn’t walk away in slow motion. That’s not realistic.

So how about some stories where the characters run from the explosion? It would definitely feel more realistic.


There you go. 5 things in action/adventure that need to stop.

And as always, if your story has several of these cliches, that’s okay. It’s up to you if you want to keep them in your story. Just be careful of keeping too many cliches.

I hope this post is helpful to you. And feel free to add to the list: I know there’s a lot more cliches out there!

Thanks for reading, and I’ll be back with a new post next Monday.

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13 replies on “5 Cliches in Action Adventure Stories that Need to Stop”

Great post! I really enjoyed that. Those 5 cliches are by far some of my favourite to mock while watching movies (and thankfully my family hasn’t yet told me to stop talking during movies, but the day is coming…). I appreciate that you included the point about getting knocked out as well. I was actually doing some research on that recently and discovered that any KO that lasts longer than 20 seconds is a medical emergency. So there goes that plot device 😛

Liked by 1 person

Thank you for the comment! Glad you found it funny 😆 And weirdly enough, I didn’t know about KOs either until about a week ago! Guess I won’t be knocking out as many characters from now on 😂

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