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Jocelyn Hsu / Spoon

Finding Home in Fictional Worlds

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

From Hogwarts to the MCU to Percy Jackson and the Olympians, we all have our favourite fictional worlds and mediums. They’re a great source of entertainment and often serve as a way for us to be happy.

But why do we get so invested in fictional lives and stories? Why is it that we favor certain characters like Dean Winchester or watch the same sitcom over and over again without an ounce of boredom?

For one thing, there’s escapism. Let’s be honest: reality sucks a lot of the time. We’d all rather be in Gravity Falls than in this world, especially considering the state it’s in. Not only that, but our world doesn’t have magic or superheroes — enter all our favourite fantasies and web-slingers. Binge-watching a TV show or spending all day getting through a novel transports us to a new world, one that’s probably more exciting or more enjoyable than our own. Whether we wish to be taken to the cozy comfort of Central Perk or the harrowing streets of Ketterdam, fiction is a grand portal that can take us anywhere we wish through the press of a button or the flip of a page.

Shadow And Bone GIF by NETFLIX - Find & Share on GIPHY

More than anything, fictional worlds and stories give us comfort. We all have our own comfort characters and TV shows; things we turn to whenever, as the name suggests, we need comfort.

We don’t really choose our comfort characters — not intentionally, at least. They’re typically just “assigned” that role because we identify with them or have the impossible desire to hang out with them in real life. I don’t know about you, but I’d love to be Peter Parker’s best friend — the witty banter would be unmatched. Plus, I think I’d make a great sidekick or even woman-in-the-chair.

For me, turning to a comfort TV show or movie is a great relief from stress — I just put on an episode of How I Met Your Mother and let the familiarity and humor make me feel better. Lying back on the couch with your favourite show on in the background while scrolling mindlessly through Instagram; isn’t that what we’d all rather be doing right now?

How I Met Your Mother Cheers GIF by WGN America - Find & Share on GIPHY

Finally, there’s that almost inexplicable bond between us and our favourite characters. Maybe it exists because we relate to the situation the character is in, or maybe simply because we love their personality. Some feel like our best friends, others feel like us reincarnate. Whatever the reason, there’s a connection similar to what we feel with real people — like we know them. They make us feel seen. They make us feel better about our flaws — we share the imperfections, but because we love the characters so much and see the good in them, the flaws don’t seem so bad. It’s a pretty reassuring feeling.

Unfortunately for us, we’re still stuck here on a magic-less earth without daring quests or sarcastic chosen ones. So, if you don’t mind, I’m going to reread Heroes of Olympus for the fourth time and live out my dream adventures through my favourite characters—close enough, right?

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Sariya Adnan

Ryerson '24

Sariya Adnan is currently an English student at Ryerson University. She's been writing her whole life and hopes to use words to create a positive impact on others and the world around her.
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