Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves will join a growing list of TV shows and movies that portray Dungeons & Dragons as a “cool” game, subverting the typical role-playing game nerd trope. TV shows and movies have historically relied on RPGs like D&D to characterize two-dimensional geeky characters: they might ramble off D&D jargon, probably wear glasses, and definitely provide some comic relief. The notoriously unsuccessful D&D movie franchise hasn’t done much to help the game’s case. The original trilogy began with a poorly received first installment in 2000 and wrapped up with two direct-to-DVD movies in 2005 and 2012.

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However, TV shows and movies have increasingly been departing from the D&D nerd trope. Shows like Community and Freaks and Geeks have episodes centered around D&D campaigns that unite D&D lovers and otherwise alike. The pop culture phenomenon Stranger Things is famous for capturing the spirit of D&D, especially through season 4’s beloved Dungeon Master Eddie Munson. Stranger Things pays homage to classic D&D lore, representing the RPG as a complex game founded on creativity as opposed to a nondescript activity nerds partake in.

Related: What The Dungeons & Dragons Movie Could Learn From Stranger Things

The D&D movie franchise is being revived with the 2023 release Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, which promises to honor the D&D community. The movie’s trailer follows a dysfunctional group of adventurers on a dangerous quest to retrieve a mysterious relic. Along the way, the main characters must face some of Dungeons & Dragons’ wildest monsters. The trailer suggests Honor Among Thieves is the D&D representation audiences need. By balancing comedy with high stakes in an action-packed fantasy film, Honor Among Thieves allows nerdy lore to coexist with fun—the true essence of D&D. D&D players will appreciate that Honor Among Thieves clearly did its homework, and all audiences will surely warm up to RPGs being more than “silly” pastimes.

What Stranger Things' Eddie Munson and Honor Among Thieves Mean For The D&D Nerd Trope

Positive and accurate D&D representation like in mainstream works like Stranger Things and Honor Among Thieves suggests the D&D nerd trope is dying. While D&D is still portrayed as a geeky pastime, geekiness no longer always has a negative connotation (unlike in shows like The Big Bang Theory). In fact, Eddie and the Stranger Things kids’ extensive D&D knowledge is what makes them apt heroes. Similarly, Honor Among Thieves embraces the inherent nerdiness of being passionate about an area of interest like mythical roleplaying. Honor Among Thieves audience members will hopefully learn that D&D is a complex game played by complex people—not blueprints of a tired trope.

However, positive and accurate D&D representation in TV shows and movies doesn’t always land in reality. Big-budget productions like Stranger Things and Honor Among Thieves hire equally big names in acting, hair, and makeup to bring their visions to life. The former’s Eddie became a fan favorite because of his winning personality, but it doesn’t hurt that he’s also very handsome and has pretty hair. The latter’s cast includes the likes of Hugh Grant, king of the British rom-com, and Chris Pine and RegĂ©-Jean Page, both of whom have played literal royals (or royal adjacents). All three are famous for their good looks, and hair and makeup will only elevate their beauty. It’s easy to think D&D is cool when someone attractive promotes the game on screen, but audiences might not feel the same if these characters were played by the average person.

But, giving D&D the “Hollywood treatment” is an important trade-off: if mainstream, big-budget works like Honor Among Thieves can pay proper homage to D&D, then hopefully the overused D&D nerd trope can be retired once and for all. The D&D franchise appears to be on a roll—the Honor Among Thieves panel was a hit at SDCC and the game’s publisher announced a live-action TV series in early 2022—so change may very well be on the rise. If Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves receives positive reviews, then hopefully the rejuvenated franchise can continue subverting Dungeons & Dragons stereotypes.

Next: Dungeons & Dragons' Comedy Avoids The Biggest LOTR Problem 

Key Release Dates
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023)Release date: Sep 08, 2023
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