Fantasy: is it all really a rip-off of Tolkien?

Fantasy, a genre most of us enjoy and many of the books we’ve written contain at least elements of fantasy. What I was wondering, often you hear that everything is just based on the work of Tolkien, in how far do you guys agree with that?While I do agree with that he had and still has important role for the fantasy genre and there are definitely elements copied (even in for example Lord of the Rings vs Harry Potter there are at least some significant similarities which I would love to expand on later if anyone is interested) most of the newer fantasy is leaning towards another and more unique approach to fantasy.

So, any opinions on this?


not sure. haven’t read tolkiens books

Harry potter is a good book though

Whats Tolkien?

Hope you’re kidding :sweat_smile: (It’s okay if you’re not, I’m just a bit surprised that’s all lol)

(He wrote Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit) :laughing:

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Oh. Seen a bit of the lord of the rings film

Aren’t most things copies/edited thoughts from one place to another

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Wait… what? I’m not sure what you mean so I can’t answer your question properly :wink: :innocent:

I think I get what you mean now. Didn’t read it as a separate thing from the first “paragraph”.

Yes, I agree, it’s impossible to come up with something a 100% original because you get your thoughts and ideas from somewhere. So it makes sense that different fantasy stories have a lot in common, and they are in the same genre because of the similarities.

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That’s what my thought was too. I just could not figure out how to word it

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there is a diffrence between rip off, and using the same ideas. sometimes when you write you need to have this stuff

lets take vampires. evry story has a vampire drink blod. because if they dont they are not vampire. if you got fairys you need to give them wings if ot they are not fairys.

romance there has be love if not its not romance.

also about harry potter copying. you can always find conections in stuff with out we have a popular kids movie in my country its about birds and it has a lot of stuff there reminds of the first one. you can always conect stuff.

( ͡👁️ ͜ʖ ͡👁️) bump!

Okay, for the idea I wanted to give the comparison between Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, since that’s interesting and thinking about it shows how similar it is. Don’t read if you don’t want any spoilers.

Firstly the main character. Both Frodo and Harry Potter are physically small and young guys who more or less get chosen to fulfill special tasks. Doing so they are both under the guidance of an old wise man (Gandalf and Dumbledore) who have some major power and who both also die or seem to die at least . The ‘tasks’ in both situations have to do with good fighting bad and preventing bad people from taking over the world. They both get accompanied by close friends on their journey. There are some huge battles with all types of creatures (mainly on the bad side, on the good side it’s just mainly humanlike creatures) but it both includes the main character fighting the bad in a 1-on-1 battle and the main character is basically responsible for getting rid of the evil and peace is restored.

I mean obviously the plots themselves are not that similar, but when you look at some of the important themes in the books you realize that there is so much in common. I personally don’t think it’s a rip-off, but I do believe that there are some major similarities.


I think this is more about following the Hero’s Journey rather than Harry Potter being a rip-off of Tolkien. I mean, sure there are giant spiders and old men with beards, but the stories and the magic systems are fundamentally different!

I always have an issue with people who claim that any fantasy containing orcs, elves and dwarves is automatically ripping off Tolkien. Sure, they took cues from the way he describes those creatures (which comes with its problems because dwarves are kinda coded to be a Jewish stereotype, which is yikes), but at the end of the day, that’s much more to do with short-hand. Not a lot of people want to spend ages and ages explaining their magic system and going into great depth about their world-building. Using creatures and races that already exist can prevent you from needing to go off on world-building tangents. You can just get into the story without worrying!

After all, is Percy Jackson a rip-off of Greek mythology? What about Thor with Norse mythology? It’s more about what you do with the magical races you include rather than if you use the same ones as something that came before you.

Although saying that, it is extremely unimaginative to just use the races mentioned by Tolkien, not to mention insufferably euro-centric! The rest of the world has some amazing races and creatures, too! I mean, Japan is known for its awesomely scary stuff, for one! And they have some awesome gods we can draw inspiration from like Izanagi and Izanami. Then you have West African/Caribbean folk tales like Anansi the Spider (thanks for bringing attention to that, Neil Gaiman!)

But yeah. There are also plenty of fantasy stories that don’t have many similarities with Tolkien at all! One of them being Skulduggery Pleasant!


I completely agree with everything you said here, I mean that there are some similarities doesn’t make it a rip-off and it definitely isn’t a bad thing that there are some similarities. I just happened to pick out Harry Potter as example because I saw some of the similarities but in my opinion it’s not even close to being a rip off at all, it’s a very different setting with major differences in the storylines. I kinda feel like they use some of the similar elements in the book but again, not in a bad way.

And about the mythology part, nah, I love when writers do that as long as they make it their own story if that makes sense. And in everything I read that’s the case. But yeah I also agree they should not only look at European mythology because there is so many different things all over the world that are usable for sure! I read an amazing story with inspiration from I believe West African mythology like a year ago and it just made me look differently at fantasy in general.

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I think we often run the risk, when it comes to Tolkien, of expecting people to be completely different, and I think that’s a super limiting way to view fantasy! I feel like all things in a genre are gonna have some similarities, or they’d be in different genres!


Exactly! I mean the idea of genres is based on the fact that it’s classifying stories in the same group based on the fact they have stuff in common. It is important tho to give your own twists and interpretations to stuff. Like to illustrate it a bit more, I’ve written a couple of fantasy based stories and I won’t deny that I get inspired by the fantasy I’ve read in the past, but I try to use that inspiration to make my own unique story. As long as that’s the case I don’t see it as an issue at all. It’s also a process of development a whole genre of books if that makes sense, combining some more traditional elements and ideas with new, unique and creative ideas.


Mmmm Skulduggery Pleasant :yum:

And yes, using Asian canon as a base is always a fun way to make your story feel completely different while still following the same basic principles of western storytelling like the Hero’s Journey. I’d recommend looking at the game Asura’s Wrath. It’s a dumb, loud action game that follows the Hero’s Journey more or less to a T while having scale that most stories are too scared to touch.
The really cool thing about isn’t the story, it’s the setting. It takes most of its cues from Buddhist and Hindu imagery and stories, blends it with an almost sci-fi look and just throws it out there without the need for over-explanation. It gives it one of the most unique worlds in all of gaming, and it does not get enough credit

I definitely don’t think that all fantasy is remotely close to a rip-off of Tolkien. Most of the individual aspects that carry over, such as the races or the general plot line, already existed before the Lord of the Rings was written. There’s definitely a way in which a lot of fantasy plays into well known features or races, but I wouldn’t exactly call that copying. I definitely agree that fantasy could gain a lot from incorporating new and interesting creatures from all over the world, though.

Closed due to inactivity (sad face)