Conan the Barbarian

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
"Know, o prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the sons of Aryas, there was an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars - Nemedia, Ophir, Brythunia, Hyperborea, Zamora with its dark-haired women and towers of spider-haunted mystery, Zingara with its chivalry, Koth that bordered the pastoral lands of Shem, Stygia with its shadow-guarded tombs, Hyrkania whose riders wore steel and silk and gold. But the proudest kingdom of the world was Aquilonia, reigning supreme in the dreaming west. Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian; black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandaled feet."
—The Nemedian Chronicles, as quoted in The Phoenix on the Sword, the very first Conan story by Robert E. Howard.

The star of a gritty Heroic Fantasy series of stories set in the Hyborian Age, an age before modern history. Created in the 1930s for Weird Tales magazine, Conan of Cimmeria quickly became Robert E. Howard's (1906-1936) most famous and popular creation. When people think 'barbarian', they often picture Conan.

Not at all influenced by the concept of the 'Noble Savage', Conan represented the ever-present danger posed to civilization by humanity's warlike nature (or vice versa). Howard's stories frequently relied on pulp formulas, much to Howard's chagrin. Howard would try to subvert these formulas wherever possible, especially where they required him to include a perfunctory sex scene. He took great delight in the publication of 'Beyond the Black River', precisely because it left out sex entirely.

Conan is strong, courageous and oddly respectful of women. He is not an idiot, but neither is he of a scholastic disposition—he is mostly practical and naturally cunning, though he is also knowledgable, able to speak, read and write a dozen languages, and even puzzle out ancient scripts in one story. He is a defining example of the type of barbarian who has the principles of a snake.

It is possible to see him as a Marty Stu in the sense of being an idealised version of the author. He reflects Howard's preferences and prejudices; black people are poorly portrayed most of the time, Conan likes women with "skin as white as alabaster" and "a supple waist". And snakes, Howard must have been scared of snakes, huge "loathsome serpents" turn up continually, although this could also have to do with his friendship with H.P. Lovecraft (the original Conan stories are actually a peripheral part of the Cthulhu Mythos.) Yet in Beyond the Black River, Howard included a character that was explicitly stated in one of his letters to be an Author Avatar, and he was shown to be inferior to Conan in many ways.

Two Conan movies were made in the eighties: the first, Conan the Barbarian put Nietzschean (Wannabe) philosophy together with rubber snakes and an epic tale of revenge. While it wasn't very accurate to the original Howard stories, hewing more to Oliver Stone's ideas filtered through John Milius' direction regarding both plot and themes, it has become a Cult Classic on its own merits. Its awesome music, epic feel, and interesting plot helped launch Arnold Schwarzenegger's acting career. The second movie, Conan the Destroyer, took a more comical and lighthearted tone, wasn't as successful and got a critical negative reception. Plans for at least another movie fell through. There were rumors in the early 2000s about a new movie were Arnie would have reprised the role as an aged Conan, now king of Aquilonia, but all plans were scrapped when he entered politics.

A third Conan movie was released in August 2011. A Continuity Reboot, it was supposed to be more faithful to Howard. It wasn't.

There has also been an MMORPG, notable for being unusually bloody for the genre, and several other adaptations in various media.

Not to be confused with Conan O'Brien. Also not to be confused with Detective Conan or Future Boy Conan.

The Conan literature

Robert E. Howard

From 1932-1936, Robert E. Howard completed one novel and 20 shorter stories about Conan. Some of these were first published posthumously. In order of writing, these are:

Howard also left some stories unfinished or in synopsis form. The titled ones, in no particular order, are:

  • "Drums of Tombalku". Left in fragmentary form, first published in 1986. L. Sprague de Camp created a completed version, first published in 1966.
  • "Wolves Beyond the Border". Left in two surviving drafts, first published between 2001 and 2005. L. Sprague de Camp created a completed version, first published in 1967.
  • "The Hall of the Dead". Left in synopsis form, first published in November 1974. L. Sprague de Camp created a completed version, first published in February, 1967.
  • "The Hand of Nergal". Left in fragmentary form, first published in 1976. Lin Carter created a completed version, first published in 1968.
  • "The Snout in the Dark". Left in fragmentary form, first published in 1979. L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter co-wrote a completed version of the story, first published in 1969.

He wrote a few other Conan-related pieces, like "The Hyborian Age", an essay about his fictional setting, and the poem "Cimmeria", evoking Conan's homeland.

Other authors

Over the decades, many other authors have written official fanfics - or more formally, pastiches - of Conan. There are more Conan stories by other writers combined than Howard himself ever wrote.

Their ranks include Robert Jordan and Harry Turtledove, but the most significant of them was the Show Runner-of-sorts back in the day, L Sprague De Camp (1907-2000). He wrote several pastiches with the frequent collaboration of another author, Lin Carter (1930-1988). Both were prolific fantasy and SF authors in their own right, but they are perhaps most associated with Conan today.

Besides writing pastiches, De Camp edited Howard's stories, which often meant retooling the text altogether. De Camp and/or Carter also produced full versions of stories Howard left unfinished, and reworked some of Howard's unrelated fiction to make them Conan tales. The De Camp-supervised books featured pastiche stories together with Howard's edited originals until finally they ran out of the latter, in which case the books became complete pastiches.

The Conan books published by Lancer Books and Ace Books from 1966-1977 are among those supervised by De Camp, and they are perhaps most famous for their cover art by Frank Frazetta.

For years, the pastiches and modified versions of Howard's stories were all considered Canon while the unedited originals were allowed to fall out of print. Nowadays however, Howard's unedited stories are available on the market again (and provided they're in public domain, the Internet), while the pastiches and modified texts are mostly out of print.

Though the dozens of pastiches are of varying quality, they are not without merit. If they wish, readers of today may relegate these stories to Expanded Universe status or just ignore them altogether.

However, the status of Lin Carter and L. Sprague De Camp's works can be considered a secondary Canon of sorts, due to de Camp's decades-long control of the franchise and efforts to "reconcile" the original works. (Not to mention the sheer preponderance of in-universe works written posthumous to Howard's Shorter Than They Think series.)

Novels and short stories by other authors

  • "The Blood-Stained God", also known as "The Curse of the Crimson God". Novella written by L Sprague De Camp, first published in 1955. Based on a Kirby O'Donnell tale by Robert E. Howard. The original story was set in 1930s Afghanistan.
  • "The Flame Knife", also known as "Three-Bladed Doom". Novella written by L. Sprague de Camp, first published in 1955. Based on an El Borak tale by Robert E. Howard. The original story was set in 1930s Afghanistan.
  • "Hawks Over Shem", also known as "Hawks Over Egypt". Novella written by L. Sprague de Camp, first published in October, 1955. Based on an Diego de Guzman tale by Robert E. Howard. The original story was set in 1021 Cairo. The antagonist was the Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, a Fatimid Caliph (reigned 996-1021) who reputedly went insane.
  • "The Road of the Eagles", also known as "Conan, Man of Destiny". Novella written by L. Sprague de Camp, first published in December, 1955. Based on an Ivan Sablianka tale by Robert E. Howard. The original story was set in 1595 Caucasus, with Cossacks active in the border areas of the Ottoman Empire.
  • "The Return of Conan" (1957). Novel mainly written by Björn Nyberg, edited and slightly revised by L. Sprague de Camp.
  • "The City of Skulls" (1967) by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter.
  • "The Thing in the Crypt" (1967) by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter.
  • "Black Tears" (1968) by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter. Partly inspired from the Medusa legend of Classical Mythology.
  • " Conan of the Isles" (1968) by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter. Novel, chronologically the last Conan tale. Conan is about 65 years old when abdicating the throne of Aquilonia and heading to the Western Ocean for one last adventure.
  • "The Curse of the Monolith" (1968) by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter.
  • "The Castle of Terror" (1969) by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter.
  • "The Lair of the Ice Worm" (1969) by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter.
  • "The People of the Summit" (December, 1970) by Björn Nyberg. Revised by L. Sprague de Camp in 1978.
  • "Conan the Buccaneer" (1971) by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter. Novel, featuring political intrigues over the throne of Zingara.
  • "The Witch of the Mists" (August, 1972) by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter.
  • "Black Sphinx of Nebthu" (July, 1973) by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter. Sequel to "The Witch of the Mists".
  • "Red Moon of Zembabwei" (July, 1974) by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter. Sequel to "The Witch of the Mists, and the "Black Sphinx of Nebthu".
  • "Shadows in the Skull" (February, 1975) by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter. Sequel and conclusion to the storyline of "The Witch of the Mists, the "Black Sphinx of Nebthu", and the "Red Moon of Zembabwei".
  • "The Gem in the Tower" (August, 1978) by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter. Based on "Black Moonlight" (November, 1976), a Thongor Tale by Lin Carter.
  • "The Ivory Goddess" (August, 1978) by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter. Sequel to "Jewels of Gwahlur". There are arguments that Catherine Crook de Camp was an uncredited co-writer in this tale.
  • "Legions of the Dead" (August, 1978) by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter. There are arguments that Catherine Crook de Camp was an uncredited co-writer in this tale.
  • "Moon of Blood" (August, 1978) by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter. A sequel to "Beyond the Black River".
  • "Shadows in the Dark" (August, 1978) by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter. A sequel to the "Black Colossus".
  • "The Star of Khorala" (August, 1978) by Björn Nyberg and L. Sprague de Camp. A sequel to the "Shadows in Zamboula". Also serves as an origin tale to a supporting character from the "The Hour of the Dragon".
  • "Conan and the Sorcerer" (October, 1978) by Andrew J. Offutt. Novel, features intrigues in Zamora and Zamboula.
  • "Conan the Liberator" (February, 1979) by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter. Novel, features Conan leading the rebellion against the King of Aquilonia. Events which lead him to the throne.
  • "The Sword of Skelos" (May, 1979) by Andrew J. Offutt. Novel, sequel to "Conan and the Sorcerer".
  • "The Road of Kings" (October, 1979) by Edward Wagner. Novel, features intrigues over the throne of Zingara.
  • "Conan the Rebel" (July, 1980) by Poul Anderson. Novel, features Conan and Belit involved in a Stygian provincial rebellion.
  • "Conan and the Spider God" (December, 1980) by L. Sprague de Camp. Novel, features Conan facing the priests of Yezud, a city which worships a Spider God.
  • "Conan the Mercenary" (January, 1981) by Andrew J. Offutt. Novel, covers a missing period between "Conan and the Sorcerer" and "The Sword of Skelos".
  • "Conan the Barbarian" (May, 1982) by L. Sprague de Camp, Lin Carter, and Catherine Crook de Camp. Novelization of the film. First credited collaboration for Catherine, though she is thought likely to have co-written, revised or otherwise contributed to several previous novels.
  • "Conan the Invincible" (June, 1982) by Robert Jordan. Novel, features Conan's encounters with a bandit queen.
  • "Conan the Defender" (December, 1982) by Robert Jordan. Novel, features unrest and political conspiracies within Nemedia.
  • "Conan the Unconquered" (April, 1983) by Robert Jordan. Novel, features the activities of a necromantic cult in Turan and Hyrkania.
  • "Conan the Triumphant" (October, 1983) by Robert Jordan. Novel, features Conan leading a group of freelance mercenaries within Ophir, a country about to enter a civil war.
  • "Conan the Magnificent" (May, 1984) by Robert Jordan. Novel, features Conan as a thief in Shadizar. Having recently been outperformed by a female thief, Conan decides to track her down and beat her in her own game. But both thieves are unwittingly following a perilous expedition into the wilderness.
  • "Conan the Destroyer" (July, 1984) by Robert Jordan. Novelization of the film.
  • "Conan the Victorious" (November, 1984) by Robert Jordan. Novel. Conan flees Turan after becoming the main suspect in a high-profile murder investigation. He also suffers from poisoning and enters Vendhya in search for a cure. He instead finds himself involved in complex political intrigues.
  • "Conan the Valorous" (September, 1985) by John Maddox Roberts. Novel. Conan is hired by a Stygian Sorceress to transport certain items to the sacred mountain of Crom in Cimmeria. The relatively "simple" mission turns up to be part of a conflict between sorcerers.
  • "Conan the Fearless" (February, 1986) by Steve Perry. Novel. A young girl with Elemental Powers is being targeted by more experienced magic users. Conan becomes her reluctant protector.
  • "Conan the Renegade" (April, 1986) by Leonard Carpenter. Novel. Features mercenary adventures in the borders of Koth and Khoraja. Serves as a sequel to "Black Colossus" and "Shadows in the Dark".
  • "Conan the Raider" (October, 1986) by Leonard Carpenter. Novel. Conan joins a tomb-robbing expedition in Stygia. A subplot involving a precious gem has the story serving as a sequel to "Shadows in Zamboula" and a prequel to "The Star of Khorala".
  • "Conan the Champion" (April, 1987) by John Maddox Roberts. Novel. Conan's career as a pirate of the Vilayet Sea ends in a shipwreck. His attempt to find mercenary work results in Conan being at the center of a three-way war between city-states.
  • "Conan the Defiant" (October, 1987) by Steve Perry. Novel. Conan's seeks vengeance against a Necromancer. But will have to face an army of Animate Dead to get to his opponent.
  • "Conan the Marauder" (January, 1988) by John Maddox Roberts. Novel. A Hyrkanian warlord attempts to unite all the tribes and create an Empire. A Turanian sorcerer attempts to place this army under his own control. Conan is caught up in the resulting conflicts.
  • "Conan the Warlord" (March, 1988) by Leonard Carpenter. Novel. Conan finds himself trapped within a Nemedian prison. He is offered freedom in exchange for a job. Becoming the political decoy to a Nemedian noble who resembles him in appearance. But there are multiples threats surround himself and his employers. Who have some secrets of their own.
  • "Conan the Valiant" (October, 1988) by Robert Green. Novel. Conan serves as an officer of the Turanian Army. When the secret service arranges for him to join a sorceress in a mission. They are to take out a sorcerer whose plans threaten Turan and its empire.
  • "Conan the Hero" (February, 1989). Novel, serves as a sequel to "The City of Skulls". Conan and Juma still serve in the army of Turan. But their emperor is about to be betrayed by his foreign allies and members of his own court.
  • "Conan the Bold" (April, 1989) by John Maddox Roberts. Novel. A youthful Conan is contemplating marriage when his would-be-bride is slaughtered with most of her family. Conan swears vengeance. He follows the trail of the one responsible across several countries over a period of years.
  • "Conan the Indomitable" (October, 1989) by Steve Perry. Novel, a sequel to "Conan the Defiant". Conan, his lover Elashi, and a number of new companions are trapped Beneath the Earth. In an underground realm ruled by a sorcerer and a sorceress in constant battle with each other. The various sentient races serving them are on the verge of a rebellion. The humans are soon caught up in a bizarre conflict.
  • "Conan the Free Lance" (February, 1990) by Steve Perry. Novel. Having recently parted with his traveling companions, Conan spends some time with the Tree Folk. That is a forest tribe living on top of the trees. His visit coincides by an attack on the tribe by the forces of a sorcerer, who needs the Tree Folk's Sacred Seed to ensure his own survival. Without the Seed the tribe and its forest face extinction. conan volunteers to help retrieve the Seed.
  • "Conan the Great" (April, 1990) by Leonard Carpenter. Novel. Conan, King of Aquilonia defeats an invasion by the combined troops of Nemedia and Ophir. Among the prisoners of war is a court jester who gladly switches allegiance. What Conan doesn't know is that the jester is the representative of a god, aiming to unite Hyboria under a single ruler. And Conan has unwittingly volunteered for the position. Meanwhile Koth has just entered a new expansion phase.
  • "Conan the Formidable" (November, 1990) by Steve Perry. Novel, features a youthful Conan entering Zamora for the first time. But instead of reaching civilization, Conan becomes the unwilling "guest" of a race of giants. And he gets his introduction to the Vargs, a race of Green Dwarves who feast on other humanoids, and to the members of a freak show seeking new recruits.
  • "Conan the Guardian" (January, 1991) by Roland Green. Novel. Conan serves as the bodyguard of a young Argosian noblewoman. His role gives him insight into a culture dominated by wealthy merchants. And to the ruthlessness and deadly intrigues underlying the civilized veneer.
  • "Conan the Outcast" (April, 1991) by Leonard Carpenter. Novel. Takes place within the city-states of eastern Shem, a desert area. The city of Sark is in decline, consequence of a prolonged drought. A priest convinces its monarchs that a sacrifice to his god could reverse the situation. But not just any sacrifice, but that of another city-state and every life within it. Said city is Qjara, a vibrant city which serves as part of a significant trade route. Currently living in Qjara is Conan, stranded there for months while waiting for a caravan to Zamora.
  • "Conan the Rogue" (November, 1991) by John Maddox Roberts. Novel, partly based on "Red Harvest" (1929) and "The Maltese Falcon" (1930), both by Dashiell Hammett. Conan has just ended a stint as a mercenary to the army of Nemedia. He has already lost his entire pay and most of his equipment gambling. So he gladly accepts a new job offer, searching for a mysterious and valuable item. Said job leads him to Sicas, an Aquilonian city increasingly dominated by organized crime. A Mob War between the five main gangs, and several minor factions, is ongoing. Deciding that this city of rogues is his kind of place, Conan soon uses the conflict to his own advantage. Meanwhile several parties in the War are also after the MacGuffin.
  • "Conan the Relentless" (April, 1992) by Roland Green. Novel. Conan attempts to cross the Border Kingdoms, heading for other areas as usual. But he soon ends up in a war zone, with the Kingdoms no longer the relatively peaceful area of his experience. When he recognizes Raihna (an old ally from "Conan the Relentless") among the combatants, Conan starts getting interested in his surroundings.
  • "Conan the Savage" (November, 1992) by Leonard Carpenter. Novel. Conan has recently escaped from the mines of Brythunia, where he spent a period as a convict. He has retreated to the wilderness and joined a fairly isolated tribe. He is Going Native. But Brythunian armies destroy the tribe and its village. Conan seeks vengeance against the Brythunian ruler. Who is actually a victim of Demonic Possession.
  • "Conan of the Red Brotherhood" (February, 1993) by Leonard Carpenter. Novel. Sequel to "Shadows in the Moonlight". Covers the period of Conan serving the Red Brotherhood, pirates of Vilayet Sea, and having Turan and its rulers as enemies.
  • "Conan and the Gods of the Mountain" (May, 1993) by Roland Green. Sequel to "Red Nails". Conan and Valeria continue wandering the Black Kingdoms (Africa), stumbling on a conflict between the Speakers of Spirits and the God-Men.
  • "Conan and the Treasure of Python" (November, 1993) by John Maddox Roberts. Novel, partly based on "King Solomons Mines" (1885) by H. Rider Haggard. Conan is hired to return to Darkest Africa, where he had spend several years of his life, and lead an expedition through the wilderness. They are supposedly looking for the missing brother of his employer. But more accurately searching for the treasure that both brothers had been seeking.
  • "Conan the Hunter" (January, 1994) by Sean A. Moore. Novel. Conan buys a bracelet as a gift to a girlfriend. But the bracelet belonged to a recently-murdered princess and was apparently stolen from her corpse. His possession of it makes a suspect him in the high-profile murder case. Someone set him up. Conan seeks to find answers and clear his name, while facing complex conspiracies.
  • "Conan, Scourge of the Bloody Coast" (April, 1994) by Leonard Carpenter. Novel, sequel to "Conan of the Red Brotherhood". Conan is still leading the Red Brotherhood in ravaging the coasts of the Vilayet Sea. He is trying to instigate conflict between the two powers of the region, Turan and Hyrkania, to weaken them. But a magic user seeks to undermine all three naval powers.
  • "Conan and the Manhunters" (October, 1994) by John Maddox Roberts. Novel. Conan is leading bandits in the deserts between Shem and Turan. He has the idea to steal a valuable treasure from a temple of Ahriman. Consequently he and his group have the Cult of the deity and a group of extraordinary manhunters following their trail.
  • "Conan at the Demon's Gate" (November, 1994) by Roland Green. Novel. Set in the period that Conan is the chief of the Bamulas, an African tribe. Serves as a prequel to "The Vale of Lost Women". A Cool Gate transports Conan and his tribesmen to the Pictish Winderland. And the locals are not welcoming.
  • "Conan the Gladiator" (January, 1995) by Leonard Carpenter. Novel. Conan has joined a traveling circus as their strongman, crossing various countries. But their idea to perform in Stygia results in their introduction to Gladiator Games... as unwilling participants.
  • "Conan and the Amazon" (April, 1995) by John Maddox Roberts. Novel. Conan and an Hot Amazon are in search of the lost city of Jangar, which was the battleground between sorcerers and gods. But the current incarnation of the city is a perilous place and there were reasons for its isolation.
  • "Conan and the Mists of Doom" (August, 1995) by Roland Green. Novel, follows shortly after "The People Of The Black Circle". Conan has left Afghulistan with a number of tribesmen loyal to him. He intends to lead them to Koth. But in the Kezankian Mountains, the Mist of Doom drains travelers of their lifeforce. Conan's group has to join with other groups to ensure their survival.
  • "Conan and the Emerald Lotus" (November, 1995) by John C. Hocking. Novel. A sorcerer has gotten two of his rival magic users addicted to a drug. It amplifies their powers when used, but has nasty withdrawal symptoms. He then cut off their supply, waiting for results. The two afflicted magic users intend to use Conan as a pawn to get them their drug. He has no choice on the matter as their spells threaten his own life.
  • "Conan and the Shaman's Curse" (January, 1996) by Sean A. Moore. Novel. The opening scene has Conan on a battlefield, the last survivor of both groups of opponents. A dying shaman uses his last breath to curse him. Soon Conan realizes the effects of the curse. He has become a Werebeast, subject to periodic transformations.
  • "Conan, Lord of the Black River" (April, 1996) by Leonard Carpenter. Novel. To face an undead sorceress, Conan has to experience a journey to the underworld. His chance to return among the living depends on victory over the nightmares of the realm.
  • "Conan and the Grim Grey God" (November, 1996) by Sean A. Moore. Novel. Conan is searching for the statue of an ancient deity, reputed to be priceless. But there are others searching for the statue, since another version of its tales speaks of its great power. The power to end the reign of light and begin the rule of darkness.
  • "Conan and the Death Lord of Thanza" (January, 1997) by Roland Green. Novel. Conan joins a force of rangers, active in the mountainous borders between Aquilonia and Nemedia. Their mission is to face the groups of bandits active in the area. A seemingly simple mission. Until a local bandit leader seeks a magical artifact which grants power over death.
  • "Conan of Venarium" (July, 2003) by Harry Turtledove. Novel. Depicts events mentioned in passing during "Beyond the Black River", but never depicted in detail. Aquilonia attempts to colonize areas of Cimmeria, building the fortress of Venarium to control the area. The Cimmerians eventually storm the fortress and drive the invaders away. A very young Conan, barely a teenager, participates in his first battle.
  • "Conan the Barbarian" (July, 2011) by Michael A. Stackpole. Novelization of the film.

Age of Conan, Hyborian Adventures novels

Novels which take place in the familiar Hyborian Age but do not actually feature Conan himself as a major character. His activities as King of Aquilonia are mentioned however.

  • "Legends of Kern" trilogy
    • "Blood of Wolves" (May, 2005) by Loren L. Coleman.
    • "Cimmerian Rage" (June, 2005) by Loren L. Coleman.
    • "Songs of Victory" (July, 2005) by Loren L. Coleman.
  • "Anok, Heretic of Stygia" trilogy
    • "Scion of the Serpent" (September, 2005) by J. Steven York.
    • "Heretic of Set" (October, 2005) by J. Steven York.
    • "Venom of Luxur" (November, 2005) by J. Steven York. Also known "Venom of Luxor". The city of the title is typically spelled "Luxor" in Conan stories, but not in the cover of the first edition.
  • "Marauders"trilogy.
    • "Ghost of the Wall" (January, 2006) by Jeff Mariotte.
    • "Winds of the Wild Sea" (March, 2006) by Jeff Mariotte.
    • "Dawn of the Ice Bear" (May, 2006) by Jeff Mariotte.
  • "A Soldier's Quest" trilogy
    • "The God in the Moon" (July, 2006) by Richard A. Knaak.
    • "The Eye of Charon" (September, 2006) by Richard A. Knaak.
    • "The Silent Enemy" (November, 2006) by Richard A. Knaak.


Comic Books

The character has had a long history in comics over the decades. At first handled by Marvel Comics, the license has since been acquired by Dark Horse Comics. The Dark Horse series is the most faithful of all adaptations to date and is endorsed by the Robert E. Howard Foundation. It started out with Kurt Busiek on script and Cary Nord on pencils. It's currently written by Timothy Truman and drawn by Tomas Giorello.

  • The Marvel franchise includes (not including reprints):
    • Conan the Barbarian vol. 1 (1970-1993). 275 issues.
    • Savage Tales vol. 1 (1971-1974). Anthology title, Conan was the main character for 5 issues.
    • Conan Annual (1973-1987). 12 issues.
    • The Savage Sword of Conan (1974-1995). 235 issues.
    • Giant-Size Conan (1984-1975). 5 issues.
    • King Conan (1980-1983), later renamed Conan the King (1984-1989). 55 issues.
    • Conan the Barbarian Movie Special (1982). 2 issues.
    • Graphic novels (1985-1992). 7 issues.
      • The Witch Queen of Acheron (1985)
      • Conan the Reaver (1987)
      • Conan of the Isles (1988)
      • Conan: The Skull of Set (1989)
      • Conan the Barbarian: The Horn of Azoth (1990). Based on a rejected script for the film Conan the Destroyer
      • Conan the Rogue (1991)
      • Conan: The Ravagers out of Time (1992). Crossover with Red Sonja and Kull. Involves Time Travel.
    • The Handbook of the Conan Universe (1986). One-shot publication.
    • Conan the Adventurer (1994-1995). 14 issues.
    • Conan (1995-1996). 11 issues.
    • Conan the Savage (1995-1996). 10 issues.
    • Conan vs. Rune (1995). One-shot publication. Crossover with The Ultraverse,
    • Conan the Barbarian vol. 2 (1997). 3 issues.
    • Conan the Barbarian: The Usurper (1997-1998). 3 issues.
    • Conan: The Lord of the Spiders (1998). 3 issues.
    • Conan: River of Blood (1998). 3 issues.
    • Conan Return of Styrm (1998). 3 issues.
    • Conan Scarlet Sword (1998-1999). 3 issues.
    • Conan: Death Covered in Gold (1999). 3 issues.
    • Conan: Flame and the Fiend (2000). 3 issues.
  • The Dark Horse franchise includes (not including reprints)
    • :Conan #0: The Legend (2003). One-shot publication.
    • Conan (2004-2008). 50 issues.
    • Conan And the Daughters of Midora (2004). One-Shot publication.
    • Conan And the Jewels of Gwahlur (2005). 3 issues.
    • Conan And the Demons of Khitai (2005-2006). 4 issues.
    • Conan: Book of Thoth (2006). 4 issues.
    • Conan: Free Comic Book Day Edition (2006). One-shot publication.
    • Conan And the Songs of the Dead (2006). 5 issues.
    • Hyborian Adventures: SDCC Free Giveaway (2006). One-shot publication.
    • Conan And the Midnight God (2007). 5 issues.
    • Conan the Cimmerian (2008-2010). 26 issues.
    • Conan: The Weight of the Crown (2010). One-shot publication.
    • Conan: Road of Kings (2010-2012). 12 issues.
    • King Conan: The Scarlet Citadel (2011). 4 issues.
    • Conan: Island of No Return (2011). 2 issues.
    • King Conan: The Phoenix on the Sword (planned for 2012). 4 issues.
    • Conan the Barbarian vol. 3 (ongoing, planned for 2012).

Just as some of Howard's non-Conan stories were reworked for inclusion in the Conan books, the character of Red Sonja was created for Marvel loosely based on two of Howard's other characters from his historical fiction - Red Sonya of Rogatino and Dark Agnes, both Action Girls from the 16th century.

Film and television

  • The films Conan the Barbarian (1982) and Conan the Destroyer (1984). Both had Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan, and Mako Iwamatsu as Akiro, his KWONICLER. The first film also had James Earl Jones as Thulsa Doom, and Sandahl Bergman as Valeria. It was co-written by John Milius and Oliver Stone, directed by Milius alone. The second film had Grace Jones as Zula, Olivia d'Abo as Jehnna, Sarah Douglas as Taramis, Pat Roach as Toth-Amon, and an uncredited Andre the Giant as the monster Dagoth. It was written by Stanley Mann, and directed by Richard Fleischer.
  • Conan the Adventurer (1992-1993) was an animated cartoon based on elements from the various Conan stories, but it was so very much Lighter and Softer. It takes only a few elements from the original. Decent on its own terms, despite the "kiddification" (e.g. a talking phoenix that lived in Conan's shield and was obsessed with pomegranates). Run for 65 episodes.
  • Conan and the Young Warriors (1994). Continuation of the above. This had Conan leading kids around. Having defeated his enemies, Conan was contemplating retirement. Fate, in the form of Epimetrius the Sage, has other plans and the Cimmerian becomes mentor to The Chosen Ones, three siblings with magical powers who are destined to rule the Hyborian world. All three are blonde, and blue-eyed. Draegen, the eldest boy, summons an Instant Armor with magical qualities. He has also been trained to Whip It Good in battle. Brynne, middle child and only girl, is a Master of Illusion. She has also had training as a thief and Archer. Navah, the youngest boy, is a The Beast Master of the group. He has had training as a slinger. This show was never particularly successful. A total of 13 episodes were released.
  • Conan the Adventurer (1997-1998) was a live-action Conan series starring Ralf Moeller. It was one of many failed attempts to match the success of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess. It makes superficial use of Conan's name and elements from the movies and animated series, as well as Robert Jordan's Conan novels, but otherwise was Howard's character in name only. A total of 22 episodes were released.
  • The film Conan the Barbarian (2011) was Continuity Reboot, starrs Jason Momoa as Conan. It featured Rachel Nichols as Tamara , Stephen Lang as the villain Khalar Zym, Rose McGowan as witch Marique, and Ron Perlman as Corin, Conan's father. The script was written by Thomas Dean Donnelly, Sean Hood, and Joshua Oppenheimer. Directed by Marcus Nispel.
  • There's been an animated adaptation of Red Nails starring Ron Perlman and Mark Hamill in the works for some time, but it seems to be stuck in Development Hell.

Tabletop Games

  • GURPS Conan, for that game's Third Edition, is a licensed adaptation of the setting.

Video Games

The following tropes are common to many or all entries in the Conan the Barbarian franchise.
For tropes specific to individual installments, visit their respective work pages.


  • Abdicate the Throne: In "The Scarlet Citadel", Conan is offered freedom and gold if he will do this. Conan, in characteristic fashion, tells the villains who captured him to go to hell.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Conan's swords can cut through nearly anything. Hardly a fight scene goes by that doesn't have the Cimmerian casually hewing off limbs and heads, plunging a sword through chainmail like wet paper or rotten fruit or some other metaphor for softness, and occasionally bisecting still-helmeted skulls and whole torsos. In "The People Of The Black Circle," he chops through a door with his sword. And yet it's still always described as "razor-sharp".
    • It's worth noting here the awesome physical power that Conan was able to put behind his sword work.
    • Justified in the movie, where Conan wields an Atlantean sword that may even have magical properties. Usually in the comics and books, however, he was using whatever sword he'd bought in the market or had come to hand a few moments before.
    • Scaled back to a more realistic level in the first movie scene where Conan takes multiple swings to chop off Thulsa Doom's head.
  • Action Girl: Belit, Valeria, Nanaia.
  • Actor Allusion: in the first movie Thulsa Doom (as played by James Earl Jones) asks Conan to join him, and that he is pretty much his son now. It doesn't work.
    • He even repeats "My son" in a way that makes any Star Wars fan widen their eyes.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The Dark Horse comic book series and the first Conan film. The quality of their distillations is debated, to say the least.
    • To the extent that the first film captured the "Frank Frazetta feel", and had assorted story elements from both Howard and pastiche, it was an Adaptation Distillation; but its plot and themes are incompatible at worst with Howard's Conan. Of course, one may enjoy it on its own, regardless of the source material.
    • The 2011 film manages to feel the most like Howard's original story, right down to the pulpy feel and escapist action. It helps that they made sure to write around established stories and events from the Howard canon instead of just rewriting Conan's life to fit their movie plot like the '82 film.
  • Adaptation Dye Job: Schwarzenegger, Ralf Moeller, and Jason Momoa have dark brown hair instead of plain black.
  • Advanced Ancient Acropolis
  • After-Action Patchup: How we learn most of how Salome usurped the throne in A Witch Shall Be Born; the Denouement of The Phoenix on the Sword
  • After the End: As mentioned before, the original script for the first movie was set in the distant future, but the film's script retains the original timeline. The Hyborian Era is After the End with respect to the previous civilizations Atlantis, Valusia, and Acheron.
  • A God Am I: Some of Conan's enemies had this as their motivation. One of them even actually succeeds in becoming an aspect of her goddess due to a magical artifact that's enhancing everyone's perceptions, without even intending to. Also implied to be Conan himself's fate at the end of the crossover with Thor in the pages of What If...?, where Conan is climbing Crom's mountain to either deliver Mjolnir or deliver a beatdown depending on how he felt when reaching the summit.
  • Alien Geometries
  • All Just a Dream
  • All Myths Are True: The gods of the Hyborian Age go on to be the gods of later cultures. The Cimmerian deities Crom, Lir, Babd, Macha and Nemain are all Celtic deities, Mitra god of the Hyborians becomes the Persian Mithra (some art represent him as Jesus), the Shemite Ishtar becomes the Babylonian Ishtar and Set seems to have characteristics of both the Egyptian Set and Apep, just to name a few. Perhaps best exemplified in the twin Nordheimir tribes Conan encounters in "The Frost Giant's Daughter." They're called the Aesir and the Vanir, and they worship Ymir, the Frost Giant. The implication is that they themselves will be worshipped as the Norse pantheon further down the line.
  • Exclusively Evil: There are no good Picts, no good Stygians, no good Snake people.
    • Technically, Jogar Sag of the Picts was evil. The Picts tend to be neutral, and are only seen as evil by the civilized people that encroach on their territory, and the Cimmerian who hates them because they're among the regular enemies of his people. The Stygians tend to be evil because they worship a Lovecraftian horror.
    • We only meet one (reborn) character from Acheron, as it's an extinct civilization, but all its rulers seem to have been evil.
      • Conan is actually fairly even-handed about the Picts. Near the beginning of the story he says that the dead Aquilonians pretty much had it coming by virtue of being Too Dumb to Live, that instead of humiliating Jogar Sag by imprisoning him they should have either bought him off or given him a quick, clean death. He also says that if the Aquilonians would just break up some of the monstrously oversized estates of their nobles they wouldn't need to be pushing into Pict territory.
    • Conan had at least one Pictish ally/friend at one point in the comic magazines. Possibly just for the sake of subverting the trope, but it also pretty much showed both Conan and the other guy that they were Not So Different.
    • The only good Stygian in Howard's world is a poor fisherman who is kidnapped by Conan in Hour of the Dragon. He's not only spared, but even rewarded with a hatful of gold!
    • The negative portrayal of the Picts is all the odder because a) the Picts had been allies of Kull, who was supposedly Conan's earlier incarnation, and b) Howard wrote an essay concerning his longtime particular admiration for the historical Picts (despite there not being much detailed information available).

In reading of the Picts, I mentally took their side against the invading Celts and Teutons, whom I knew to be my type, and indeed my ancestors.

"He said I was but an earthly sprite, knowing naught of the deeper gulfs of cosmic sorcery. Well, this world contains all I desire -- power, and pomp, and glittering pageantry, handsome men and soft women for my paramours and my slaves.

    • In "The Hour of the Dragon" and "The Phoenix on the Sword," more than one conspirator wanted the throne. (At least two wanted the same throne, that of Aquilonia, which gets awkward.)
  • Animated Adaptation: Two of them, actually.
  • Anachronic Order: While Howard didn't write the stories in chronological order, several different outlines have been devised if one wishes to read them this way - pastiches included or not.
  • Ancient Africa: Kush, Keshan, Darfar, Punt, Zembabwei, Atlaia, Amazon and the other "Black Kingdoms" to the south of Stygia where Conan managed to lead a tribe for a few months. Possibly also the second movie featuring Grace Jones as a psychotic tribeswoman (as one of the heroes).
  • Ancient Astronauts: The Tower of the Elephant features an only survivor.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The Sect of the Fire Knife, the Serpent Men.
  • And the Adventure Continues...:
    • The closing narration of movie #1. One of the greatest movie tags in existence.
    • The end of Conan of the Islands, being more than 60 years old he headed his ship for Mayapan (America).
  • Animated Armor - Conan once fought one of these guys, realising he was screwed as even though he could chop the arm and the head of the armor off, the thing could still attack. Thankfully the Wench of the Week shone some light into the priest controlling it, following which it collapsed like a sack of potatoes.
  • Anti-Hero: Conan varies from Type III to Type V
    • At worst, he's a thief, a reaver, a slayer... and pretty much everything else you can think of where there's an opportunity for violence, wenches and loot. Including piracy, assassination, mercenary work and becoming warrior-king of the richest country on the continent. At best, then? The archetype of a Chaotic Good hero. He never kills anyone who doesn't deserve it or isn't trying to kill him, keeps his word, and goes out of his way to help the weak and helpless - if they're hot women. He even states this bluntly in "The Vale of Lost Women." Once he does become king he becomes pretty much the best one Aquilonia has ever had. However, he can be seen less as Type V and more as Type IV with occasional dips into Type III. The movie Conan is more solidly a Type III while the Marvel Comics version was mostly Type II with dips into III. Dark Horse's version is more back to the original IV.
    • In Hour of the Dragon, he is aghast at the thought of what his foes will do to his kingdom, and resists the temptation to return to adventure because he needs to save his kingdom.
  • Artifact of Doom - In The Hour of the Dragon, the Heart of Ahriman. Even one of the evil conspirators tries to get it from the Evil Sorcerer.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Several conspirators in "The Phoenix on the Sword."
  • Arranged Marriage:
    • In "The People of the Black Circle," Conan laughs at Yasmina's offer of reward.

"Would you make me your king?" he asked sardonically.
"Well, there are customs --" she stammered, and he interrupted her with a hard laugh.
"Yes, civilized customs that won't let you do as you wish. You'll marry some withered old king of the plains, and I can go my way with only the memory of a few kisses snatched from your lips. Ha!"

    • In "Shadows in the Moonlight" Olivia was Made a Slave for refusing this.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Thulsa Doom tells Conan in the movie, "You broke into my house, stole my property, murdered my servants, and my pets. And that is what grieves me the most! You killed my snake."
    • Somewhat understandable. His cult provided him with fabulous wealth and readily available servants, but raising a snake to be that friggin' huge must be hard.
  • Atop a Mountain of Corpses: "The Scarlet Citadel" and "A Witch Shall Be Born" in particular, the most famous visual example being Frank Frazetta's iconic illustration for Conan the Adventurer.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!
    • In "The Phoenix on the Sword," Conan does not even fight a defensive battle when outnumbered twenty-to-one.

He was no defensive fighter; even in the teeth of overwhelming odds he always carried the war to the enemy.

    • In "The Slithering Shadow", the forces of Xuthal nearly overcame him though they aren't good fighters because of this and their numbers.
  • Attempted Rape: In "Red Nails" Olmec tries this on Valeria. The rescue is even worse.
    • The Frost-Giant's Daughter is one of the rare examples of Conan himself being the aggressor. The lady in question was Atali, daughter of the Frost Giant Ymir, who appeared to the wounded and dying to taunt them and lure them to their deaths at the hands of her giant brothers.
    • Of course, Atali is a supernatural entity whose beauty causes men to go insane with lust, so it could be said that Conan wasn't really himself in that story.
  • Author Avatar: Howard made one appearance in a story. Was he an unstoppable killing machine? No. Was he a hero to rival Conan? No. He was killed along with the self-insert of his dog, Patches, by Picts in "Beyond the Black River". He was still pretty awesome in his own way though. Enough that Conan swore to personally avenge him (and his dog).
  • An Axe to Grind: While Conan generally uses swords as his weapon of choice, he has used the battleaxe from time to time in Howard's stories, such as in the first Conan story, "The Phoenix on the Sword," which has King Conan taking one to the assassins trying to kill him in his bedchamber after breaking his sword. King Kull, another Howard creation, famously used the axe, with his catchphrase being "With This Axe I Rule!"
  • Back from the Dead: In the Savage Sword of Conan comics, Boraq D' Sharaq did this so often that Conan remarked during his later appearances that the former pirate had more lives than a cat. He even returned to life after being turned into a glass statue.
  • Badass Boast: In "Shadows of Zamboula", Conan beats a cultist strangler, a black guy who's even larger than him, at his own game - while being strangled himself:

"Did you deem yourself strong, because you were able to twist the heads off civilized folk, poor weaklings with muscles like rotten string? Hell! Break the neck of a wild Cimmerian bull before you call yourself strong. I did that, before I was a full-grown man — like this!"

Gleaming shell of an outworn lie, fable of Right Divine
You gained your crowns by heritage, but Blood was the price of mine
The throne I won by blood and sweat, by Crom I will not sell
For promise of valleys filled with gold, or threat of the Halls of Hell!
When I was a fighting man, the kettle-drums they beat
The people scattered gold dust before my horse's feet
But now I am a great king; the people hound my track
With poison in my wine cup and daggers at my back.
What do I know of cultured ways, the gilt, the craft and the lie?
I who was born in a naked land and bred in the open sky.
The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing.
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king!

  • Badass in Distress: Conan has gotten captured more than once in his day. He usually escapes by some measure of guile, trickery or luck.
  • Badass Long Hair: One of Conan's trademarks since Frank Frazetta did the legendary illustrations is his long black mane, a look that was used in virtually all adaptations. Howard consistently describes Conan's hairdo as a "square-cut black mane"; L Sprague De Camp objected to Frazetta's shoulder-length interpretation and might have had the art replaced if he hadn't been overruled.
  • Badass Normal: Conan, again. Sorcerers, demons, apemen, demi-goddess witches, he's fought them all and won.
  • Badass Bookworm:
    • The archenemy of Conan, Thoth-Amon.
    • Pelias, a sorcerer who became a friend of Conan—albeit it not in the Howard story where he appeared—he didn't mind using his magic to directly fight his enemies.
  • The Bait
  • Baleful Polymorph
  • Barbarian Hero: You saw it occasionally in myths (it's as old as civilization, before that they were just "heroes"), but Conan the Barbarian made it what it is now.
  • Barbarian Tribe: The Picts in the "screaming hide covered" variety, while the Cimmerians, Æsir and Vanir are closer to the Proud Warrior Race Guy type.
  • Bar Brawl
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty:
    • The term "Conan the Barbarian" never occurs in the original Howard stories. Instead Conan tends to be called "Conan the Cimmerian", "Conan of Cimmeria", etc. However, "Conan the Barbarian" was in use at least as far back as 1954 (as a book title) and probably earlier. And of course, one of the Marvel Comics series and the first movie use it.
    • While the Age of Conan is called the "Hyborian Age" in the stories, his world is not called "Hyboria" contrary to official merchandise.
  • Beard of Barbarism: Many Aesir, Vanir and other barbarians have full beards. Conan himself, however, averts the trope with being clean shaven in pretty much all his incarnations.
    • Ironically, he grows mustaches and beard only long after becoming King of Aquilonia.
  • Because Destiny Says So
  • Bedsheet Ladder
  • Berserk Button: If you threaten an innocent woman (or even not-so-innocent if she happens to be Conan's love interest) in Conan's presence, YOU WILL DIE.
  • Best Her to Bed Her: Red Sonja in the comics. Also in Queen of the Black Coast, the pirate princess Belit becomes Conan's lover after witnessing him single-handedly slay hordes of her crew.
  • Betty and Veronica
  • Big Bad: Thoth-Amon is the most prominent, with Xaltotun and Yah Chieng briefly taking the scene for themselves. Maybe Set as well.
    • Don't forget Yezdigerd, king of Turan whose ambitions in multiple stories are thwarted by Conan's existence.
  • Big Badass Bird of Prey: One appears in The Hour of the Dragon as the witch's familiar. Pelias can turn into one.
  • Big Badass Wolf: Again, another of the witch's familiars.
  • Big Damn Heroes
  • Black Magic: Nearly all magic in the Conan universe is this, requiring some seriously nasty material components.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The first movie. Conan defeats Thulsa Doom and rescues the princess, but Valeria is dead and his remaining friends injured.
    • "Queen of the Black Coast" ends with Conan having overcome his enemies, but having lost perhaps his greatest love.
  • Black and Gray Morality: Very much so in the original stories. Lightened somewhat in the movies and later books. In the original stories, Conan was often little more than a thug of some manner (pirate, bandit, hired sword, whichever) who was going up against fiendishly evil sorcerers, mad kings, or occasionally both. On the other hand he gets a much more sympathetic portrayal when he is king of Aquilonia, all of his foes being scheming aristocrats or ambitious rival kings and Conan himself the benevolent ruler defending his throne.
    • Alternative Character Interpretation: Conan repeatedly does the right thing at personal expense, such as saving the girl rather than the gems of Gwahlur or giving two orphans enough money to lead a comfortable life. It gets to the point where Conan is, arguably, a barbarian version of The Cape (trope).
  • Blade on a Stick: Albeit rarely, he used a spear in some occasions.
  • Blinded by the Light
  • Bling Bling Bang
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Valeria, Bêlit, Red Sonja in the Marvel comics.
  • Blondes Are Evil
  • Blood Bath: When the malicious King Numedides expressed a desire to become immortal, he enlisted the services of the Evil Sorcerer Thulandra Thuu, and together they sacrificed young women in order for Numedides to bathe in their blood.
  • Blood Knight
  • Blood Magic
  • Blue Blood
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Conan took this role in the earlier books, but later writers often made him grim.
  • Brain Fever
  • Breakout Villain: Thoth-Amon the sorcerer appears exactly once in Howard's stories (though he's name-dropped in a few others), never meets Conan, and is at best a tangential antagonist in the story. In later adaptations, however, Thoth-Amon and his various Expies are usually the Big Bad.
  • Break the Haughty
  • Breast Plate: Red Sonja... and Conan! Sonja wears very little armour in her original comic book, whereas Conan averts this in the original stories (but not their illustrations) by wearing whatever suits the job or climate. In Sonja's movie, she wears a lot more armour, and Conan spends most of the first movie at least shirtless, and by the second movie he is both shirtless and pantsless almost all the time.
  • Broad Strokes: When he was still "in charge", L Sprague De Camp included the novelizations of the movies in "Conan the Indestructible", a scheme of the canonical "Conan saga" circa 1984—but didn't confirm every detail.
    • The canon as a whole could be considered Broad Strokes, given various attempts to reconcile it, with or without the pseudocanonical works.
  • Broke Episode: Often. Conan likes the good life, and when he actually has cash will spend money like water. One novel starts with Conan having gambled away almost literally everything he owns at dice. He ponders gambling with his sword (the only thing he has left besides the clothes on his back), then decides not to... after all, it's what he'll use to go out and get more money!
  • Burn, Baby, Burn/Viking Funeral: Belit in "Queen of the Black Coast" and Valeria in the movies.
  • Burn the Witch
  • But for Me It Was Tuesday: In the movie Thulsa Doom does not remember plundering Conan's village and selling him and the other children into slavery.

Conan: You killed my mother... You Killed My Father! YOU KILLED MY PEOPLE! You took my father's sword!
Doom: Ah! It must have been when I was younger.

Osric: She follows him as a slave! Seeking the "truth of her soul." As if *I* could not give it to her! (throws dagger at camera)

Doom: And that is what grieves me the most. You killed my snake! Thorgrim is beside himself with grief. He raised that snake from when it was born. (Thorgrim glowers)

  • Forging Scene: The film Conan the Barbarian starts with the forging of the Father's Sword.
  • Franchise Killer: The horrible second film, Conan The Destroyer, undid all the lingering good will from John Milius' first film. It wasn't even the negative critical reception of the second movie that killed the franchise; it actually was successful at the box office, just less than the first one. This prompted the production of the Red Sonja movie - now that was a big flop. Schwarzenegger called it "the worst movie I've ever made" and may have had a hand in making him move on to other projects - when a third Conan movie was considered, he was already busy with Predator.
  • Frazetta Man
  • "Friend or Idol?" Decision
  • Full-Frontal Assault: More than once but very memorably in the non-Howard Sword of Skelos. Joe Lansdale does it too, in Conan and the Songs of the Dead. Done by a subverted Damsel in Distress in Red Nails. They made her angry.
  • Functional Magic: Primarily Rules Magic, usually with the magician's power focused in a device of some kind like Thoth-amon's ring. Epimetrius may have used Theurgy in his battles with Set. Alchemy also plays a big role, espcially powders and potions extracted from the black lotus and it's varycolored siblings. Regardless, it is almost always Black Magic, at least in the Howard stories. the movies have some good magicians.
  • Galley Slave
  • Garden of Evil
  • Gem-Encrusted
  • Gender Flip: The Movie's sequel Conan The Destroyer turned Zula, a male warrior/wizard from the Marvel Comics line, into the non-magical Action Girl played by Grace Jones as a Zulu Amazon of sorts wielding a Simple Staff. She's somewhat, uh, manly however.

Zula: What do I do if I want a man? Take him! Like that!

  • Genius Bruiser: In the original stories, he uses both brain and brawn to get through hardships.
  • Genre Killer
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!
  • Get It Over With
  • Giant Spider: A pig-sized one in Tower of the Elephant and a bull-sized one in Conan and the Spider God... along with her babies. And let's not forget the black jade beads in People of the Black Circle, worn by the priestesses of Yezud when they dance for the spider god. Yar Afzal picks up such a bead, then drops dead, and Conan later takes a few minutes to figure out what happened.
  • God of Evil: Set, even more so in works by other writers, most of all in the cartoon.
  • God Save Us From the Queen: When the evil witch Salome steals the throne by assuming the identity of her twin sister in A Witch Shall Be Born, she quickly becomes the most cruel and sadistic tyrant imaginable. Some of her atrocities include raising taxes so high that rich and poor alike are starved, disbanding the royal guard and replacing them with cruel mercenaries who are given free reign to rape and brutalize, killing men of fighting age to prevent any possible rebellions, forcing women old and young to participate in degrading orgies, and feeding hundreds of innocent people to her pet monster.
  • Gold and White Are Divine: In "Shadows In the Moonlight"
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Lots. Although, in most case it's over quickly.
  • Good Hair, Evil Hair: A bit of this by courtesy of some of the Villains Conan has to face in some of his adventures.
  • The Good King: Conan is one of these. He rules with the support of the outlying barons as well as the common people. During his reign he lowers taxes, institutes freedom of religion, and curbs the abuses of commoners by the nobility. When he is temporarily deposed in The Hour of the Dragon he is tempted to abandon his quest to reclaim his throne and return to the exciting life of a wandering adventurer, but he quickly decides that he can not leave his people in the hands of a tyrant.

Conan: I found Aquilonia in the grip of a pig like you--one who traced his genealogy for a thousand years. The land was torn with the wars of the barons, and the people cried out under oppression and taxation. Today no Aquilonian noble dares maltreat the humblest of my subjects, and the taxes of the people are lighter than anywhere else in the world.


"Let teachers and priests and philosophers brood over questions of reality and illusion. I know this: if life is an illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and I am content."

  • The High Queen: In A Witch Shall Be Born, Queen Taramis is beloved by her people for being a kind, compassionate, and virtuous ruler.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard
  • Honey Trap
  • Horny Vikings: The Vanir and Aesir, who use horned helms (unlike their real-world descendants). Conan wears one himself in some stories.
  • Hot Amazon: Valeria. And the rest of them, including at least one who was an actual Amazon in Conan The Buccaneer.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen
  • Hulk Speak: In the books, Conan has a much bigger vocabulary than the average reader—much less the stereotypical barbarian. But in the films, some of the barbarian side-characters get this treatment.

"Sit -- here. Sit HERE!"

    • Could be justified by a subtle translation convention going on. "Sit here!" may have been some of the only words of Cimmerian the man knew, and he was effectively talking to a child in the body of an adult. Most other conversations occur after Conan's education, when he might actually be expected to speak the more common languages.
  • Human Sacrifice: Often.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate
  • If I Can't Have You
  • I Gave My Word
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Pay attention to the giant soup pot and red-lit antechamber in Thulsa Doom's Den of Iniquity to see what the caterers are cooking up. Meep.
    • Mocked on the Director's commentary: "Split-pea-and-hand soup."
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...: The last words said by Valeria in the first movie.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: spoilers
  • Inelegant Blubbering
  • Informed Ability: Sorcerers like Xaltotun and Yah Chieng, who were powerful enough to wipe out armies with quakes and plagues fail to find a proper spell to deal with Conan himself and end up toasted.
  • In Harm's Way: Conan takes over Aquilonia, gets bored ruling it and then jumps at the chance for excitement when rebels attempt to oust him from power.
  • In Name Only: The first Conan movie can be viewed so, for the most part. Besides some vague similarities (e.g. Conan is a warrior-thief who becomes king someday) a few specific elements like names and Mako's narration at the start, the movie doesn't have much in common with the prior books and comics. Conan's character is fundamentally altered since he becomes what he is all due to others (e.g. enslaved as a boy and devoting his life to revenge.) The Conan of the books was always master of his own fate, Walking the Earth because he felt like it.
  • Intoxication Ensues: In the original movie. "Black lotus. Stygian--the best!" Cut to Conan and Subotai stumbling through the streets, giggling.
  • Invincible Hero: More so in the later books. Conan rarely loses. When he does, he comes back and wins or just leaves. Howard himself seemed to be aware of Conan's sheer impressiveness might hurt the dramatic tension, since in many tales he adds a secondary protagonist to function as the dramatic foil/romantic lead, then he finds a clever way to scoot Conan out of the story for a time.
    • He also tends to prevail for polar reasons: if his opponent is a skilled fighter or a soldier or something, he wins thanks to his "wild spirit and upbringing". If he's confronted by strong savages or monsters he wins because of his skills.
  • It's a Small World After All
  • Jerkass Gods: Crom's not particularly merciful or caring toward his worshipers, although bravado apparently amuses him.
  • Kaleidoscope Eyes
  • Katanas Are Just Better: The first movie has Conan being trained in swordsmanship by the War Masters of the East, basically making him a samurai. He's seen performing a kata with a katana (or nodachi?).
    • Though he's never actually seen fighting with one, instead favoring the broadsword.
  • Kangaroo Court
  • Klingon Promotion
  • The Lady's Favour
  • The Lancer: Subotai from the 1982 film adaptation. He teaches Conan how to be a thief, saves him from the Tree of Woe, and stands by him during the Battle of the Mounds.
  • Large Ham: There's nobody in the movies that isn't a large ham. Despite the acting often being at odds with the very subtle direction and music, for some reason it works.
  • Leave Your Quest Test: "Hour of the Dragon".
  • Leonine Contract: A slave taunts Conan with the prospect of one in "The Scarlet Citadel"
  • Lightning Bruiser: Conan is repeatedly described as very fast and agile despite his size, as in "Xuthal of the Dusk":

"He was never motionless or in the same place an instant; springing, side-stepping, whirling, twisting, he offered a constantly shifting target for their swords, while his own curved blade sang death about their ears."

  • Literary Agent Hypothesis: Not exactly; though Howard wrote in a 1936 letter to a friend, "I've always felt less as creating [the stories] than as if I were simply chronicling his adventures as he told them to me," he also wrote a disclaimer in "The Hyborian Age", published that same year: "[This article] is simply a fictional background for a series of fiction-stories."
  • Living Shadow: The nightmarish monster from Xuthal of the Dusk, Thog.
  • Loin Cloth: In many adaptations and some of the original stories although Howard more often has him dressing as appropriate to the culture and circumstances he finds himself in.
  • Loose Canon: According to L. Sprague de Camp, Conan's backstory in Conan the Barbarian (being a child slave and gladiator, etc.) is an alternative account of his early years, though of uncertain validity Still, it's depicted with Broad Strokes (no Thulsa Doom or Riddle of Steel).
  • Lost in Imitation: Howard's Conan in the live-action TV series, which was influenced by the movies in several aspects. Conan is played by a German actor, is outfitted in Loin Cloth and headband like Conan the Destroyer, and has a similar Wheel of Pain backstory and Atlantean sword. Still, the series was even further from the original stories than was Destroyer, with Conan becoming Crom's Chosen One fighting the Evil Empire.
  • Lotus Eater Machine: All the inhabitants of Xuthal are heavily drugged by Black Lotus.
  • Lunacy
  • MacGuffin Guardian: More than once.
  • Made a Slave: Plenty of instances in the original works, just not applying to Conan until the first movie.
  • Made of Iron: Conan often survives wounds that would kill a small army. The apotheosis of this is the crucifixion scene in "A Witch Shall Be Born".
    • He actually came really close to the very end in the story Xuthal of the Dusk after defeating Thog.
  • Magic Is Evil: Except the High priest of Asura. Pelias in the original stories was on Conan's side and nevertheless managed to creep him out so badly that Conan felt no friendship for him after, a circumstance so odd that Conan muses on it.
  • Manly Tears: When finding his son Conn after he was kidnapped by a witch.
  • Mars Needs Women
  • Master Swordsman: Played straight and subverted. Unlike in the Arnold films, the original Conan does not receive formal training in swordsmanship, being a barbarian. But he is able to defeat certified Master Swordsmen because he is a barbarian. Spelled out in the story "The Pool of the Black One":

"Zaporavo was the veteran of a thousand fights by sea and by land. There was no man in the world more deeply and thoroughly versed than he in the lore of swordcraft. But he had never been pitted against a blade wielded by thews bred in the wild lands beyond the borders of civilization. Against his fighting-craft was matched blinding speed and strength impossible to a civilized man. Conan's manner of fighting was unorthodox, but instinctive and natural as that of a timber wolf. The intricacies of the sword were as useless against his primitive fury as a human boxer's skill against the onslaughts of a panther."

  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane
  • Memento MacGuffin
  • The Men First
  • Mighty Whitey: Played with. A few of the stories are about black people getting defeated by a quasi-Celtic white guy, who is pretty savage. He also recurrently fights against the Picts, described as having white skin but not considered white by their neighbors for being painted, cannibalistic savages. Many of his longer-term enemies were also Stygian (Egyptian equivalent), not least Thoth-Ammon, with more than a handful of clashes against white Hyboreans to even the scales. And the lily-white Vanir are the Cimmerians' worst blood enemy, whom they'd gladly cross a glacier to kill, though Conan eventually becomes more tolerant of a few of them.
  • Mineral MacGuffin
  • Mistaken for Granite: In Conan the Buccaneer, the shrine of Tsathoggua the Toad God contains a stone statue of the god, watching over the treasure. If someone step around the temple, the statue comes back to life (still remaining stone) and chase them.
  • Modest Royalty: As King of Aquilonia, Conan doesn't dress in the ostentation of various other kings of the land.
  • More Than Mind Control: Thulsa Doom uses this on Conan's mom in the original film. He tries it on Conan too, but it doesn't work.
  • Moses in the Bulrushes
  • Murder the Hypotenuse
  • Music Magic


  • Necromancer
  • The Need for Mead
  • Nemean Skinning: happened in the Marvel comics, and the original movie.
  • Ninja: The followers of Louhi are Hyperborean wearing form-fitting black suits, blank masks and wielding platinum-tipped sticks. Yeah, that's right, Finnish Ninjas.... Finnjas.
  • Noble Savage: Conan himself certainly fits the bill, although other uncivilized types like the Picts are portrayed as Exclusively Evil. Quite forcefully averted in the original stories, however. In Howard's own words, "I have no idyllic view of barbarism - as near as I can learn it's a grim, bloody, ferocious and loveless condition. I have no patience with the depiction of the barbarian of any race as a stately, god-like child of Nature, endowed with strange wisdom and speaking in measured and sonorous phrases." Conan is simply far too busy enjoying his life of bloody adventure to bother with such high-minded nonsense.
  • Noblewoman's Laugh: In one case, it came from the lips of a gelatinous, tentacled, toad headed monstrosity.
  • Not Quite Dead
  • Obfuscating Disability: In "A Witch Shall Be Born", Salome tossed the head of a murdered man to a deaf beggar — who proves to be Valerius, who heard that the true queen is prisoner there.
  • Off with His Head
  • Old Master: The Asian swordmaster in the first movie was actually played by the movie's swordmaster.
  • Only Sane Man
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: Averted by Atala, who's human sized. Her brothers though are very large.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Akivasha in Hour of the Dragon.
  • Outside Context Villain: A truly epic introduction of the villain in this fashion, as the Riders of Doom descend upon Conan's village out of the blue in the 1980 Conan film.

The ashes were trampled into the Earth, and the blood became as snow! Who knows what they came for... weapons of steel? or murder? It was never known, for their leader rode to the south, while the children went north with the Vanir. No one would ever know that my lord's people had lived at all. His was a tale of sorrow.

  • Outlived Its Creator
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Poor Valerius... he risk a lot and fight like a lion to save his beloved queen, slays the evil witch, escape from a giant toad demon.. and the Conan arrives with The Cavalry, orders them to shot down the beast and gets all the thanks of the queen (who totally ignores Valerius).
    • This was corrected in the Marvel Comics adaptation, where Conan took a more active role.
  • Panthera Awesome
  • Papa Wolf: He really loves his family. He goes against the four most powerful magicians of his time in order to rescue his son.
  • People of Hair Color: Most notably the northern barbarians. The Vanir are uniformly red-haired, the Aesir blond-haired, and the Cimmerians black-haired.
  • Physical God: In Olivia's dream in "Shadows in the Moonlight."
  • Pirate: Conan has been a pirate more than once in his career, in many different organizations, including the Red Brotherhood, the Zingaran Freebooters, and the infamous Black Corsairs.
  • Pirate Girl: One of his greatest loves, Belit, the Queen of the Black Coast, was the most feared pirate of the Hyborian Age—at least, until the legend of Amra. Valeria was also one of these.
  • Planet of Hats: In many istances: almost every Stygian is an evil sorcerer/priest worshipping Set, all Picts are wild, bloodthirsty barbarians and woodsmen, Zamorians are sniveling thieves, Aesir and Vanir are viking-like Boisterous Bruiser warriors, Khitans and Eastern people are enigmatic fatalists, Zuagirs are noble sand raiders with a strict code of honor and Hyperboreans are skinny, evil people worshipping a sorceress. Furthermore, all those "isolated and decadent" type of people living in remote cities tends to be depraved and decadent psychos.
  • Plot Armor: In "A Witch Shall be Born" he is hung on a cross in the middle of a desert, which the villain of the tale supposed would be enough to kill him—luckily, he is rescued. When an assassination attempt is made on him in a later story, "The Phoenix on the Sword" the would-be assassins fail only because a wizard finds a ring that he has lost for almost a hundred years by total accident (though since it's a magic ring, one wonders if it was an accident at all). Talk about luck.
  • Poke the Poodle: Conan punching camels in the film Conan the Barbarian.
  • Polly Wants a Microphone: The ancient talking parrot in Iron Shadows in the Moon.
  • The Power of Trust
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The first movie wasn't based on any one particular story (and indeed, changed plenty of things) but was sufficiently well constructed to be considered a fine film on its own merits.
  • Precursors
  • The Promise
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Whenever we see Conan, he's acting honourably towards people he knows. Offscreen, as a barbarian, mercenary and pirate, he has no qualms at all about pillaging peaceful villages and merchant shipping.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy
  • Pulling Themselves Together: Tsotha-lanti.
  • Purple Prose: Robert E. Howard probably reached for his thesaurus more times in a paragraph than most writers do in writing a whole novel. This results in a kind of epic cheesiness that is the written equivalent of the Frank Frazetta painting on the cover.
  • Race Lift: Conan is best known as being portrayed by a Caucasian (Austrian) actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. In the 2011 film, however, he is played by Jason Momoa, a multiracial actor of Native Hawaiian, German, Irish and Native American descent.
    • According to Howard's "The Hyborian Age", the Irish and Scottish are direct descendants of the Cimmerians, while the Germanic peoples are of mixed Aesir, Vanir and Cimmerian descent. Make of that what you will.
  • Random Events Plot
  • Rape Discretion Shot: Queen Taramis' rape by Constantius in "A Witch Shall Be Born."
  • Rated "M" for Manly: But of course.
  • Real After All: In The Frost Giant's Daughter and The Phoenix on the Sword there are people who initially disbelieve Conan's stories about clashes with supernatural beings. But then Conan produces physical proof of his encounter, immediately silencing the disbelievers.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Conan gives one of these to Constantius in "A Witch Shall Be Born" while the latter is hanging on a cross.

"Seven months ago, Constantius," said Conan, "it was I who hung there, and you who sat here."
"You are more fit to inflict torture than to endure it," said Conan tranquilly. "I hung there on a cross as you are hanging, and I lived, thanks to circumstances and a stamina peculiar to barbarians. But you civilized men are soft; your lives are not nailed to your spines as are ours. Your fortitude consists mainly in inflicting torment, not in enduring it. You will be dead before sundown. And so, Falcon of the desert, I leave you to the companionship of another bird of the desert."

    • Thulsa Doom gives Conan one of these in the movie before sending him away to be crucified.

Look at the strength in your body... the desire in your heart! *I* gave you this. Such a waste. Contemplate this on the Tree of Woe.

  • Reincarnation: Howard implied more than once that Conan was the reincarnation of Kull. In "People of the Black Circle" the Master of Yimsha forces Yasmina to relive the humiliations of her past lives as punishment for defying him. "A Witch Shall Be Born" centres around a witch who keeps being reincarnated in the same family.
  • Religion of Evil: Played straight with the followers of Set. Subverted with the followers of Asura, a mysterious and shadowy cult feared by the followers of Mitra, who turn out to be decent folks.
  • Religious Russian Roulette: "To hell with you! (Crom) I'll do it myself!"
    • Not a very dramatic example as Crom never helps his people or answers prayers anyway and never offers any kind of heaven.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Sometimes it seems that Howard's notion of otherworldly, terrifying evil began and ended with "giant snake."
  • Rescue Sex: When Conan saves Princess Yasmela from an evil wizard at the end of Black Colossus, she immediately insists that he ravish her atop the very alter that she going to be sacrificed on.
  • Retired Badass: Conan's grandfather, who did some Walking the Earth of his own before settling down with Conan's tribe. His stories of the outside world inspired Conan's wanderlust.
  • Revenge:
    • The first film features Conan's quest for vengeance after his family and people are slain by Thulsa Doom. Nothing of the sort happens or is even implied in Howard's texts.
    • In "A Witch Shall Be Born", Conan is crucified after he realizes the Evil Twin of a queen he's serving has taken her place. He survives to lead an invasion against the impostor, while the queen is rescued by a secondary protagonist.
    • In "Iron Shadows in the Moon", a fugitive Conan comes by chance upon a warlord who had recently slaughtered a mercenary band he served in (about to rape the Girl of the Story) - and, with a Pre Asskicking Monologue, kills him in turn.

..."Oh, I've dreamed of such a meeting as this, while I crawled on my belly through the brambles, or lay under rocks while the ants gnawed my flesh, or crouched in the mire up to my mouth - I dreamed, but never hoped it would come to pass. Oh, gods of Hell, how I have yearned for this!"
..."Shah Amurath, the great Lord of Akif! Oh, damn you, how I love the sight of you - you, who fed my comrades to the vultures, who tore them between wild horses, blinded and maimed and mutilated them all, you dog, you filthy dog!" His voice rose to a maddened scream, and he charged.

  • The Rival
  • Slipping a Mickey: In the newspaper comic, Conan's ale is drugged by the tavern wench Renea, who then sells Conan to slavers while he is unconscious.
  • The Sneaky Guy: Malak the cowardly thief in the film Conan the Destroyer.


  • Take Over the World:
    • Yezdigerd, king of Turan, he managed to convert his empire into the biggest one of the Hyborian Age, his foreign policy seems to be directed ultimately to this.
    • Also the ultimate plan of Thoth-Amon and his council of sorcerers and worshipers of Set.
    • Virata, one of the lords of the Flame Knife cult may have had this as its main plans.
  • Revenge by Proxy
  • Royal Blood
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: After becoming king, Conan embodies this trope. When Aquilonia goes to war, you can be sure that Conan will personally be leading his army into battle (something that he most certainly enjoys, considering his love of combat and the fact that he occasionally complains about how boring sitting on a throne is).
  • Rule of Cool: The famously awesome opening sequence in which Conan's father forges the sword that will become his son's has exactly nothing in common with real swordsmithing, but even actual swordsmiths consider it to be a magnificent piece of film-making.
  • Run or Die: Yes, Conan himself when up against some Eldritch Abominations
  • Scaled Up: Giant. Snakes.
  • Scary Black Man: The villain in the original movie was called 'Thulsa Doom' and was played by James Earl Jones. He could never be anything but this.
  • Scenery Porn: Many people have credited the revival of the Conan series to the use of Frank Frazetta's artwork on the covers. The Conan the Barbarian movie tried to copy Frazetta's paintings as much as possible for the scenery and art direction.
  • Science Destroys Magic: According to the good sorcerer Pelias, Conan's kingdom brought forth an age of logic and science which is slowly destroying the magic.
  • Science Marches On: The concept of continental drift was new and little-understood at the time Howard was writing, so the idea that the European landmass could have been vastly different merely thousands of years ago wasn't as unlikely as it seems to today's reader. We also know a great deal more today about anthropology and ancestry than what was incorporated into the stories.
  • Scream Discretion Shot: The rape of Queen Taramis in "A Witch Shall Be Born."
  • Sealed Evil in a Can
  • Seen It All: He's traveled from Asgard and Vanaheim (Scandinavia) in the north to the tribal lands south of Kush(central Africa), from West of the Baracha Isles (Azores or Canary Islands) to Vendhya (India) in the east (and in other authors' work to Khitai (China)). He's been a mercenary, a thief, a pirate, a bandit, a tribal chieftain in four distinct geographical areas, a Captain of the Guard, a wilderness scout , a General and finally a king. He's fought men, beasts (especially snakes) and demons. He's discovered lost civilizations and the ruins of lost civilizations. This was lampshaded by Thulsa Doom in one of the later Savage Sword of Conan stories, when Conan recounts his experiences. Thulsa Doom calls Conan a liar, stating that no one could have lived through so many adventures over the thirty-odd years that Conan had been alive.
  • Sex Bot: In Conan the Fearless, a witch whom no man can satisfy tries to make one. The only missing component is a really brave man's heart...
  • Sex Slave: Conan's rescued a few of these in his day, including Olivia from "Iron Shadows in the Moon."
    • Arguably he himself is bought as one for the Amazon Queen.
    • Conan himself is rescued by one of these in The Hour of the Dragon. Her name is Zenobia and she is a slave in the King of Nemedia's harem, although she admits that the King of Nemedia has never touched her (probably due to the fact that his harem contains dozens, if not hundreds of girls). After she helps Conan escape the royal palace of Nemedia, he rewards Zenobia by marrying her and making her the queen of Aquilonia.
  • Self-Made Man: "King by his own hand."
  • Shrouded in Myth
  • Silver Has Mystic Powers: And is the only thing other than fire that can hurt demons.
  • Simple Staff: Zula in Conan the Destroyer's Weapon of Choice.
  • Sinister Scimitar: Both played straight by Conan's many enemies and subverted by Conan himself, who often used scimitars and sabers in battle.
  • Sorcerous Overlord: Conan made the Barbarian Hero and Sorcerous Overlord go together like a sword and a scabbard (and yes, the sorcerer is the scabbard).
  • Space Jews: The folowers of Asura, a secretive group, persecuted by the followers of Mitra but protected by Conan because no one can prove any of the accusations against them (and who aid him in Hour of the Dragon) might be this.
    • Asura being ancient demigods of India, Hyborian Asura-followers would seem to be proto-Hindus. They speak of their ancestors as coming from Vendhya (India). This may be an example of History Marches On. Howard didn't know it, probably just pulled the name "Asura" from an encyclopedia; but it is now known that the historical Asura deities began as good guys who developed a bad reputation, just as the Hyborian ones did.
  • Spin-Off: Red Sonja.
  • The Stoic: Movie Conan was this. At Valeria's funeral pyre, Subotai poignantly pointed out: "He is Conan, Cimmerian. He Will Not Cry, So I Cry for Him".
    • Howard's Conan, too, to a degree.
  • A Storm Is Coming
  • Stop Worshipping Me!: Crom is said to send doom, not fortune, to those who receive his attention.
  • Succession Crisis
  • Synchronization: Zogar Sag and his demonic half-brother in "Beyond The Black River"
  • Taken for Granite: The Medusa like vampire and the water in the pool of the "Black People".
  • Taking You with Me: Conan, without hesitation, pretty much every time he thinks he'll die. It's a defining characteristic.
  • Talking in Your Dreams
  • Taught By Experience
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Conan does this to great effect in Black Colossus.
  • Thunderbolt Iron: Starmetal swords (in some adaptations.)
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore
  • Too Kinky to Torture: Andrew J. Offut's Isparana, implied.
  • Trick Arrow: Thulsa Doom in the movie fires snake-arrows - arrows that are originally snakes, are pulled out and magically made into arrows, then fired, then they turn back into snakes. Fortunately, this is too awesome to be laughed at.
  • The Magic Goes Away: Pelias informed Conan that due his actions the world is entering in a new age of reason and logic and without magic.
  • Turncoat
  • Ubermensch: Possibly. The trope definition is complex and Conan ticks some boxes and misses others. He has the right kind of primal charisma. He works to his own rules. He is very strong—in flesh and in spirit. He is a larger than life character. But he is religious and he is sociable, two things an ubermensch is not. Also, he does not want to set up a new society—whereas the Ubermensch often does.
    • Conan wasn't religious in the original Howard stories, though. In fact, one can say that's one of his defining characteristics - a distinct lack of faith in anything but himself.
      • Conan never lacks for faith in Crom. It's just that Crom is a god who doesn't give a crap about faith and doesn't give you anything for believing in him. Basically, he's the perfect god for deists.
      • In truth, its not that Crom dislikes faith and much as simply dislikes prayer, as he apparently feels he already answered their prayers when he gave them life and the 'the power to strive and slay'. However, he does occasionally grant Conan some divine aid. In one story he saved Conan from an dishonourable death because he would he would rather him dying a death that involves 'mountains of corpses and rivers of blood'. Normal Cimmerians also tend to swear oaths in Crom's name.
  • Ungrateful Bastard
  • Unknown Rival: In the Howard stories Conan and Thoth-amon never actually meet or even knowingly act against each other. In Sword On the Phoenix Thoth-amon sends a demon not after King Conan but after his former master who is trying to assassinate Conan, thus inadvertantly saving his life, although since Thoth-amon also told the demon to kill everyone with his master he also inadvertantly puts him in danger again. In The God In the Bowl Conan just happens to be robbing the museum where a deadly gift intended for a rival of Thoth-amon's is being stored and gets loose. In The Black Stranger the object of Thoth-amon's wrath is one of several parties including Conan after a pirate's treasure treasure. Once again, Conan just happens to get in the way. In Hour of the Dragon Thoth-amon is merely mentioned by a group of Stygian priests looking for a weapon to use against him since his return to Stygia that Conan happens to encounter.
  • The Vamp: Appears several times in Howard's Conan stories. There's Thalis the Stygian from Xuthal of the Dusk, Belit from The Queen of the Black Coast, Tascela from Red Nails, Atali from The Frost Giant's Daughter, and Akivasha from The Hour of the Dragon who is a vamp in the most literal sense (i.e. the blood-sucking undead kind)
  • Victory Is Boring: Conan discovers this after becoming King of Aquilonia. He takes any opportunity to visit new countries, and travelled far as king, though happily (for him) the political turmoil of the Hyborian nations meant his kingship wasn't exactly quiet. The movies also briefly touch on it.
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend: Belit from The Queen of the Black Coast. Also Valeria from the 1982 film (who paraphrases Belit's oath to defend Conan even after her own death).

Belit: "...My love is stronger than any death! I have lain in your arms, panting with the violence of our love; you have held and crushed and conquered me, drawing my soul to your lips with the fierceness of your bruising kisses. My heart is welded to your heart, my soul is part of your soul! Were I still in death and you fighting for life, I would come back from the abyss to aid you--aye, whether my spirit floated with the purple sails on the crystal sea of paradise, or writhed in the molten flames of hell! I am yours, and all the gods and all their eternities shall not sever us!"

    • And the fact that she really does come back from the afterlife to aid Conan shows that she wasn't kidding.
  • Virgin Sacrifice: Tsotha-lanti promises Seth five hundred if he'll defeat Conan.
    • In The Hour of the Dragon Xaltotun carries a virgin to an alter with the intent to sacrifice her, but he is stopped by an old witch and a Priest of Ashura who are allied with Conan.
  • Wait Here
  • Walking the Earth
  • Weapon of Choice: Conan most commonly uses swords in all media, and is described as "sword in hand" right away in his very first appearance. But in contrast to his film and TV versions (which had the Atlantean and Starmetal swords), the original Conan used nondescript swords - not magical, let alone named - and he's not particularly attached to them. He's also just as comfortable with other weapons like spears and axes.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Famous producer Dino De Laurentiis initially insisted on an Eighties pop soundtrack for Conan The Barbarian, but director John Milius insisted on hiring his then-unknown school buddy Basil Poledouris instead. Basil proceeded to write one of the most famous classical music soundtracks ever made.
      • If Oliver Stone had his way, the original Conan film was also going to be a Continuity Reboot set in the far future, with Conan battling mutants in lieu of or in addition to ape-men. Milius insisted on setting it in the Hyborian age.
    • As mentioned above, the classic Frank Frazetta covers adorned L Sprague De Camp's semi-canonical Conan stories. De Camp, not known as a continuity zealot, objected to the clearly inaccurate but thoroughly memetic depictions of Conan as a long-haired, loincloth-wearing savage, and wanted Frazetta fired... in which case the famous image of Conan would have never come to light.
    • Besides Jason Momoa, the other two main contenders for the lead in the Conan reboot were Kellan Lutz and Jared Padalecki.
    • Around 2001 and 2002, John Milius (the man who wrote and directed the 1982 film) wrote a script titled King Conan: Crown of Iron that was intended to be a true sequel to the original film (as opposed to Conan the Destroyer, which was considered a disappointment to most fans of the original). The film entered the pre-production stages and Schwarzenegger was set to star in it. However, when Schwarzenegger was elected Governer of California in 2003 the project was put on indefinite hiatus and eventually canceled.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?
  • What Year Is This?
  • Wheel of Pain: The film is the Trope Namer.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Magic, even White Magic, is a definite corruptive force in Conan's world. Use it at your peril.
  • World Half Empty: Let's see: the civilizations are decadent empires that don't give a damn about their people, anybody living in a city with a sorcerer in residence is at risk of being kidnapped and taken to their secret tower and never seen again. Barbarians are crazy savages who want to destroy civilization, some of them are cannibals as well. The only thing that keeps Conan at his "hero" rather than "Blood Knight" status is that he's usually fighting some of the most hideously evil people of his time—and that's mainly just because they have the best loot.
  • A World Half Full: Thanks to... Conan, sure, he is not The Messiah, but he sees this as a world full of adventures and treasures and inspires those under his command encouraging them to triumph over impossible odds, he eliminated many tyrants allowing more benevolent governors to ascend to the thrones of many countries, after ascended to the throne of Aquilonia he becomes a good and righteous monarch ensuring the prosperity and justice to the Aquilonian Empire, bringing hope to his people and defending even the weakest of them, also he saves the world from the machinations of evil sorcerers and their dark gods ensuring an age where Black Magic is vanquished. In his last adventure, he overthrows the evil priests ruling the Antillian Isles, and then navigates to the continent of Mayapan (America) where he becomes Kukulcan/Quetzalcoatl, the god who gave the mesoamericans the knowledge to cultivate corn, make books and calendars.
  • World of Ham: The films manage to achieve this with conservative amounts of dialogue; See Large Ham.
  • Wizard Duel: Pelias had some of these when he was younger, and helped Conan to deal with Tsotha-Lanti.
  • The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Actually, Conan might knock down a woman and would certainly slap her behind, but he tries to avoid killing them. A woman who betrayed him to the police on one occasion was simply dropped into a cesspit as punishment, while Conan disembowelled her new boyfriend without a second thought.
  • Wretched Hive: Tortage, the pirate city of the Barachan Islands. The MMO based on the series, Age of Conan, allows you to join a Resistance that overthrows a brutal dictator ruling Tortage, and your character is able to leave Tortage a little better than he found it. Also the thieves' quarter of Shadizar, capital of Zamora, known as The Maul. Arguably Shadizar itself since it's frequently referred to as "Shadizar the Wicked".
  • You Can't Fight Fate
  • You Imagined It: Conan gets this a lot when he encounters supernatural things, which not many other people believe in. See The Phoenix On The Sword and The Frost Giant's Daughter. Usually the protagonist does have some physical evidence that proves him right, like the title mark on his broken sword or a scrap of cloth from the title character's clothing.

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