The exploits of mighty-thewed, sword-wielding heroes and their thiefly, wizardly and/or priestly companions, as they spend their days smiting evil, fighting monsters, recovering treasures and quaffing ale.
Tends to be distinguishable from High Fantasy by its scale—the problems are generally those of the hero, not the world—and moral standards—absolute evil and absolute good make fewer appearances. (Well, absolute good makes fewer. Absolute evil, in the form of a Religion of Evil or the like, makes a convenient foe.) Also by its tendency to be an endless series of adventures, partly because the smaller scale makes it more plausible, and partly because the heroes are very prone to love being In Harm's Way.
Sometimes set in a world that looks an awful lot like medieval Europe, although it can range all the way back to a "forgotten prehistory" such as in Conan the Barbarian, or even the "classical" period (ancient Greece, Mesopotamia, etc.), as found in Xena: Warrior Princess (this variant is sometimes called "Sword and Sandal" and more burly versions are called "Thud and Blunder"). May involve Mythopoeia.
Also known as "Sword and Sorcery", a term coined by Fritz Leiber, one of the genre’s Trope Codifiers, in reply to a letter by Michael Moorcock. There is much debate of the definition of these genres; unkind souls have even described Heroic Fantasy as nothing but an upmarket term for Sword and Sorcery.
Good live-action film and television heroic fantasies can be counted on the fingers of one hand (generally starting with the Conan the Barbarian movie). Dying is easy. Fantasy is hard! On the other hand, roughly half of all RPGs ever written fall under this genre, if not more. The odd tendency for Anime to use settings with an obvious European flavor is noted.
Heroic and epic Fantasy of Chinese cultural origin is known as Wuxia.
Anime & Manga
- Crimson Spell combines Heroic Fantasy with the Boys Love.
- Arguably Berserk goes from Low Fantasy to Heroic Fantasy at the end of the Golden Age arc where all the demons start coming out and become the main source of conflict.
- Or it was Heroic Fantasy all along without the characters noticing. After all Zodd the Immortal didn't exactly keep his existence a secret.
- Rune Soldier is a comedic Heroic Fantasy spin-off of the high fantasy Record of Lodoss War.
- The first Fullmetal Alchemist anime was Heroic Fantasy, as opposed to the manga and second anime series, which quickly veered into High Fantasy territory.
- The Adventures of Sinbad
- The Beastmaster (only the movie, not the Science Fiction books it was based on.)
- Conan the Barbarian and Conan the Destroyer
- Technically, the original Star Wars trilogy is Heroic Fantasy In Space. The prequels tend more towards High Fantasy In Space.
- Clash of the Titans
- Prince of Persia the Sands of Time
- Kull The Conqueror
- Red Sonja
- Alison Croggon's Books of Pellinor
- Lynn Flewelling's Nightrunner
- David Gemmell's books are a prime example.
- Robert E Howard's Conan the Barbarian—although it bounces between "not very realistic" and "really really unrealistic" depending on the iteration. Also Kull and Bran Mak Morn. To a large extent Howard invented the modern incarnation of this trope.
- Patrick Rothfuss's The Kingkiller Chronicle (although the protagonist is leaning toward Anti-Hero territory and may get worse in the upcoming book 3).
- Norman Spinrad's The Iron Dream (a Deconstruction)
- The Bahzell series by David Weber.
- Michael Moorcock's The Elric Saga (another Deconstruction).
- Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser
- Karl Edward Wanger's Kane.
- C.L. Moore's Jirel of Joiry, the first major female character in Heroic Fantasy.
- Charles R. Saunders's Imaro.
- The Black Company
- The Malazan Book of the Fallen, especially during Karsa Orlong's storylines.
- Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon is either a Darker and Edgier or Deconstructed Trope version (or possibly Distaff Counterpart) of the King Arthur story.
- The Shadowleague trilogy
- The Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks.
- The Codex Alera (quasi-Ancient Rome + Elemental Powers)
- Lord Dunsany's "The Sword of Welleran" and "The Fortress Unvanquishable, Save For Sacnoth", as well as a few other short stories here and there.
- Everything by David Eddings.
Live Action TV
- Our Little Adventure, if you only factor in Julie and her gang's adventures.