Forever War Trope...

Some wars last for months, some last for years, and then they are some that seem to go on forever.

The forever war trope is a trope that involves a war that has been going on for god knows how long and it seems like there is no end in sight. However, the reason for why the war started changes over time causing people to wonder what they are still even fighting for.

TV Tropes can explain it much better than I can.

I have story in mind that I plan to make use of this trope. Does anyone have a story or would like to have a story using this trope or not at all?

Anyway, what are your thoughts on this?
NOTE: This may overlap with another trope called Hopeless War.

Here is a link to that one.



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Classic Mega Man features a silly reason for war.
Mega Man X features a forever war that progressively worsens.
Mega Man Zero starts firmly within the nadir of a hopeless war.

This has been my spoiler-free application of tropes I didn’t know the name for before this thread.


One fantastic example of a “Forever War” I’ve seen is in Sabaa Tahir’s novel “Ember in the Ashes”, although I feel her use of it is a lot different as the technical “war” is over–like a group of people are subjugated–but there’s still rebellions and a relevant enough opposing force. Plus, her writing is fantastic.

As for reflecting this in novels, I feel the novels that do a ‘forever war’ best are the novels that take from real-life examples of war. Like, tactics they used, reasons they fought for, etc.


Again with the werewolves: forever war is what they do for territory. I’m just playing it as humans are too nosey, so territorial behavior is being forcibly educated out their system. Doesn’t stop all skirmishes, just makes them less frequent. And if it wasn’t against each other, it would be against us.

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The war will never end I see…

Well, each pack is itw own kingdom, clan, gang–whichever word best clicks. And they have an overturn rate of about 15-20 years, so you never know when a new fool is going to be in power. The only counterbalances to that are : exposure to humans, an Alpha of Alpha’s, a shadow group that terrifies even leaders into behaving, or a strict education on how much of their behavior is psychotic–things along these line. Of course you could just go outside the tropes, and write them as decent human beings with a bad need to shave, but then you’re not resolving the issues of the “fairytale”, you’re just outright throwing it away.

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I’ve looked up on this war trope a while back to figure out how long a war could go on and what happens in between when it does go on for years and years. Obviously, they’re not continuously fighting. There are these cold war periods where no actual fighting is happening, but things are still happening.

Especially, if you look at the real world, you can see it. It’s not like there’s gunshots every second of the day. There are these rest periods kind of like that stereotype cowboy standoff.

Especially, if it goes across generations. Maybe grandpa fought for one reason, dad fought because grandpa fought, but now you’re fighting only because dad and grandpa were fighting and you don’t have your own reason.

I can’t remember why I was looking this up, which means, I guess I solved my problem XD

Wait, I think it was…yes, Pinti’s story. Clans fighting. They’re not always going to have a battle. But because their conflict is never resolved even after a truce is called, it’s like the war is still continuing. Then because the conflict isn’t resolved, someone breaks the truce. Then maybe another battle is had.

So, the war is never over. There’s never a moment where one side bests the other to complete defeat, or where both sides come to an agreement.

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You bring up some interesting points.

That makes sense. I suppose even fighting enemies need some down time or something.

That’s like what if WW2 was still happening even with the down time and other mini wars happening to this very day?

Earth would be a horrid mess…

That is a scary yet confusing thought. LOL!

I am hoping my comment makes sense…

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I have used this! I am guilty! lol

Okay, its not a bad one but I have used this and it even is one of the center plot lines for the series I have been writing. I will add some description below, but my general thoughts on the trope is very dependent on the situation it is used in and what is preventing a truce or ceasefire from either side. Hollywood in general has a reputation for ignoring the finer details war causes. Resourced put into it, lives lost, frequency of replaceable soldiers, etc. Typically, these forever wars have worked best in cases like Underworld, where the Lycan and Vampire factions have just never gotten along since their uprising and have always been at each other’s throats. It is a war, but its only fought in skirmishes and they both do their best not to get humans involved. This is way more believable than two fully fledged civilizations locked in an eternal war or it drawing out so far that peace was never saught from either side. It really depends on the situation for me.

How I used the Forever War trope

When I ended up using this trope, it was done out of a need to bring some merit and meaning to something that was already present in my works; Balance. This is going to be lengthy so brace yourself but basically, when the universe was created, it was done by two Titans. Cosmic beings that controlled the balance of life and death. They used their power to give an otherwise blank universe life, forging suns, stars, planets, species, etc.

Life, however, is not perfect. Conflict, pain, strife… it was all inevitable. They knew this but they also knew that those kinds of emotions and events, mixed with magic, could have some… well… very unfriendly results. Magic, in this universe, has no light or dark side. Even some of the most barbaric forms of magic can be used to do a lot of good, should the user have the mind for it. However, magic is easily influenced by its surroundings. It can destabilize and weaken spells, or strengthen them. Likewise, a user able to use magic will find that their emotions and feelings are more intense. Sometimes to a point where the overwhelming power mixed with those feelings will utterly break someone completely and they will succumb to their darker desires.

This results in individuals who lean so far into being Too Good or Too Evil that they could not just be left to roam the world. Evil, or darkness, if it won, would utterly destroy all life and return the universe to a bare void. It’s not intended to. Those who are that corrupt aren’t meaning to do that kind of harm. But their power is so far unchecked and unbalanced it is the inevitable outcome they would cause.

Likewise, for those who are too good, if they were to win, life would cease to have any form of conflict and because of this, the meaning of life would fade. There would be no motivation or challenge to be better and life would become stale. Sure, they aren’t TRYING to make that happen. But again, left unchecked, it would be an inevitable result.

Knowing this, the titans created Angels; Celestial beings who were given a number of gifts, strengths, and a unique form of magic whose sole purpose was to watch over the universe and deal with these individuals. This is where the forever war comes in. Their role in the universe has been to safeguard a necessary balance, sometimes requiring them to do some fairly messed up things. But if they did not, they would be risking the complete destruction of the universe in one way or another. To really make this more interesting, I even included examples where the Angels lost faith in what their mission was and even chose not to deal with some situations. The results that came from it were so devastating, that they have had to absolutely obliterate worlds to keep it from spreading. This is their forever war. A war that has gone on since time began that the rest of the universe is mostly oblivious too. Some situations have risen where they had to rally and lead armies of mortals and other creatures against some of their targets. But they aren’t as frequent. Usually, they deal with individuals before they obtain that level of power.

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Yes, you’re making sense :wink:

We don’t need anything else to mess up Earth :stuck_out_tongue:

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Yeah, you are right about that!

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Enh, the planet is pretty good with self-repair. I’m reminded f that every time someone gets a wild hair to clean up the property. You have to stay on that or it’s reclaimed within a year, here. It’s our repeated interference that causes most issues.

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The Forever War is also a 1974 SciFi book that’s critically acclaimed.

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